Sabancı Üniversitesi


History Seminar: Martin Greve (Orient-Institut Istanbul)



The Sound of Dersim: Musical Tradition and Revival in an Eastern Anatolian Province





MARCH 4, 2019   15:30-17:30

FASS 2034

In many aspects the Dersim (Tunceli) region in East Anatolia differs from its neighboring provinces: until the mid-20th century, only a small minority spoke Turkish, while the main languages were Zaza and Kurmancı, and until 1915, also Armenian. Moreover, it is the only province of Turkey with an Alevi majority. Its previously rich musical traditions, however, including songs, extended laments, and Alevi hymns barely survived the terrors of the 20th century. In 1937/38 Dersim suffered a military operation ending up in massacres of the population and forced resettlement to western Turkey. Later, violent operations of the PKK and of the Turkish army against them led to massive migration to the western parts of Turkey and Europe. The lecture aims to describe the difficult conditions of research within a traumatized and politicized society, as well as the efforts of Europe- and Istanbul-based musicians such as Metin and Kemal Kahraman, Ahmet Aslan, Mikail Aslan or Yılmaz Çelik, to revitalize the ruins of musical culture in Dersim.

Martin Greve is a German ethnomusicologist based in Istanbul, Turkey. His doctoral thesis deals with the history of Turkish art music in the 20th century, and his habilitation thesis is a study of Turkish music in Germany. From 2005 to 2011, he was the coordinator of the Study Program of Turkish Music at the Rotterdam World Music Academy; between 2007 and 2011, he served as advisor to the Berlin Philharmonic concert hall for the concert program entitled Alla Turca. Since 2011 he has been a research associate at the German Orient-Institut Istanbul. His monograph Makamsız: Individualization of Traditional Music on the Eve of Kemalist Turkey was published in 2018; and his latest book Yeni Dersim Soundunun Oluşumu: Anlatılamazı İfade Etmek (Expressing the Unspeakable: The Emergence of the New Sound of Dersim), coauthored with Özay Şahin, is about to be published 2019.