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End-blown flute in the park of Kars

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We meet with some guys from the Conservatorium in the newly opened park of Kars. In the last days we got to know more about the situation and history of the kurdish people in Turkey. When writing these lines, Turkey is preparing again new elections – after the prokurdish HDP got for the first time ever 13 % of the votes in June which ended the majority of Erdogans AKP party. Since then, you can read in the media what sad things are happening there. But yet, we are some days before the national elections of June 2015 and luckily, we have no clue of the future…
We are about 15 people sitting on the grass in a circle, sharing grapes and cookies and delicious baklava. Baran and his friend are soon taking out their guitar and bilur. Bilur is the kurdish word for an end-blown flute, similar to Kaval and Nay, which is the traditional instrument of half-nomadic shepherds in the east Turkey. On the recordings you can hear the crows in the background of the park and people walking around, some stopping to listen to the music that evolves. The third song they play is a classical circle dance song for the Halay. Of course, this is tempting, and soon one starts a circle dance – and other people and kids from the park are joining in with us, turning and turning, laughing and singing. We are maybe 30 people turning around, holding each other on the little finger and dancing on and on and on.
Yilmaz tells us, that storytelling in kurdish culture is very strong and the Caval or Bilur, being instruments that accompany the singer and storyteller, became famous through that. Apparently, only in the last 25 years it developped from the folk instrument to a „professional“ instrument which nowadays is also teached in universities. However the story of these flutes is older than 1000 years. Its said, that the Nay, Bilur or Caval, made originally from reeds, were dicovered from people listening to the wind playing on the reeds: the melodies evelving being daugthers of the wind!
The songs are joyful and fit to the warm spring afternoon atmosphere. When we ask the guys to play us a lost song which really matters to them, they play us one about political prisoners in Turkey, composed in the 1980s.


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