Chahadé Saadé – Samaii Hijaz Kar Kurdi

odeon1.jpgWelcome. Finally, with a few minor trepidations, I’ve started an audio blog.

It’s been my philosophy that good music is best when it is shared. Of course, nothing beats that feeling, say, when you alone break open that box from Turkey or Indonesia, place the fragile platter on the turntable, only to feel your hair stand on end when the music begins. The feeling that you’ve never heard anything like this in your life; it transports you to a place where words are irrelevant. But part of that feeling is thinking how you’d want to share that with others, to have them feel exactly the same way.

Record collectors are eccentric people. I don’t even like the term “record collector.” They’ve been parodied far too many times. Accurately, I might add. But I could not live with myself as a “collector” without at least one person I could share sounds with. So, this blog is for my friends, and for you, stranger.

For the first installment, we have a beautiful oud solo which was recorded most likely in Syria, by the Lebanese oud player Saadé ca. 1926 or so. It appears on a 10.5” record, which a number of companies preferred during the acoustic era. I’m not sure when that format/size ended for Odeon, but I doubt it was any later than the early 30s. According to reader “pm,’ this is a recording of the “kurdilihicazkar saz semai of the late 19th century Istanbul Armenian composer Tatyos Efendi.”

For over a year, I believed this recording was made in Iran, due to the matrix number (etched into the ‘dead wax’) on the record, which was indicated in a major source as being used only in Iran. However, after digging through sources in the French language, I was able to determine that this player was indeed Lebanese, and made at least one recording for Polyphon around the same time. Syria, where the recording was most likely made, was a major recording hub – musicians from across the region would travel to record there.

Chahadé Saadé – Samaii Hijaz Kar Kurdi

Technical notes
Label: Odeon
Issue Number: X35285
Matrix Number: xES 381

11 thoughts on “Chahadé Saadé – Samaii Hijaz Kar Kurdi

  1. Listener Jimma wrote in:

    Hey-thanks so much for all the rarities! The song which you posted in April by Chahade Saade is a Kurdish tune. Although you may have bought it from Turkey, it’s origin is unquestionably either Iraq or Iran. The singer’s name and the title of the track are both Arabic. No materials were printed in Turkey in Arabic script after the Roman alphabet was adopted in 1925. The nature of the title indicates that it was probably pressed in Bagdad. This record is a rare find indeed, as posession of Kurdish recordings has been illegal in Turkey until 2003, and such material was also routinely confiscated and destroyed in Syria, Iraq, and Iran-all under the pretext of “fighting terrorism.” In five years of digging in Istanbul, I only found two Kurdish language 45’s, both printed in Cairo. Thanks for helping to keep this music alive!

    My response:

    Verrry interesting comments! I have done some sleuthing, thanks to your research.

    First off, thank you for getting in touch. This is the type of info I relish. I hope you continue to visit and enjoy the blog!

    Couple things, first off: you are right, it most likely was recorded in Persia! According to my sources, the Odeon X 35000 series, of which the Chaade Saade 78 is one, WAS recorded in Turkey. (It’s not surprising it turned up there.) However, looking closer, the matrix number for that 78 begins with the letters ES. That letter code does not jibe with the 78 being Turkish in origin. The ES matrix series was from Persia. This information, coupled with yours, would make it a strong bet to have been recorded in Persia/present-day Iran. No guarantees, but I’d place a strong bet on it. I will amend my original posting with an addendum. Many, many thanks for this.

    In other news…there’s no way the record was pressed in Baghdad. Essentially all 78s recorded in the Middle East from the dawn of recording, and through the 20s and early 30s were pressed in Europe. Masters were shipped back to pressing plants and then, in turn, back to the country of origin and into the local marketplace. This Odeon was pressed in Germany.

    Regarding the Arabic script: 1928 was the year Turkey adopted the Roman alphabet according to Britannica, not 1925. And indeed, I have a few post-1928 Turkish 78s which translate titles into both Arabic and Roman letters, too. They were for sale outside of Turkey (the American maroon Columbia export series does that, and a green Odeon A series as well). Not uncommon to see.

    Finally – yep, Kurdish records are seriously rare. They are out there, though. I’ve seen Iraqi Kurdish HMV’s and others. There was also a funky post-WWII American-based 78rpm company which had a Turkish 78 imprint (Perfectaphone), an imprint for Azerbaijan (and more?) (Dictaphone), and a Kurdish imprint (Kurdaphone).

    Thank you, again!

    1. This semai is not a Kurdish melody, its maqam is hijazkar kurdi and it was composed by an Armenian composer Tatyos Efendi in Istanbul. Also, semai is an instrumental form in Ottoman music tradition.

      1. I agree – perhaps the person who posted that comment many years ago (“Jimma”) will respond.

  2. someone turned me onto your blog just yesterday – amazing. music right up my street and balanced, intelligent and diligently-researched commentary. i could ask for no more, and i thank you profusely! yes, i am starting at the beginning and going right the way thru. so much for everything else i was going to do today..

  3. This just came up on shuffle play at exactly the right time to make my brain explode. Whether it was their intention or not, these musicians and recording engineers did an amazing job of communicating something of enduring resonance across time and space… and I guess you’re part of that chain, now, too. Congratulations! 😛

  4. Found arabic 78 on “Nouriphon” label. Cat.# Part 6275 ST.2417, R 21. Gold print on maroun background. Has a gold eagle with wings spread at top. Any idea of origin. Regards Bruce

  5. Found a “Nouriphon” 78 with arabic writing. Gold print on maroun background. Cat. Part. 6275 ST.2417. R 21. Any idea of origin. Regards

    1. Hi! My first guess is Egypt, but if you could send a photo of the label to excavatedshellac[at]yahoo[dot]com, I could tell you more.

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