Ahmed Djewdet – Taxim Hicaz

December 16, 2007

djewdet.jpgA taxim (taksim, taqsim, takssim), in Turkish classical music, is an improvisation played on a single instrument – but, an improvisation within the strict guidelines of a given makam (maqam), or melodic mode. You will find taxims played on the oud, the kanun, the kemençe, the ney flute, the tanbur, and other instruments including the keman – the western violin – which is featured in this week’s post. Turkish instrumentation and improvisations are very interesting to my ears, and I have been lucky to find some stellar examples.

This elegant taxim, in the Hicaz mode (Hijaz in Arabic), was probably recorded in the late 1920s by Polydor, most likely in Istanbul, then Constantinople. It starts off being played on a single string, then to two strings, then back to one. Interestingly, it’s also over 3 minutes and 40 seconds long, which is about as much sound as you could possibly cram onto one side of a 10″ 78rpm record.

Unfortunately, I could find nothing on Ahmed Djewdet, except that he appeared on several other Polydor releases from the same time period.

Ahmed Djewdet – Taxim Hicaz

If you’re interested in other taxims by Turkish classical artists in the early 20th century, I would recommend the masterful works by Tanburi Cemil Bey available on several CDs on the Traditional Crossroads label.

Yup, this label is the same that I used for the CD cover on November 2nd. Why does it haunt me?

Technical Notes
Label: Polydor
Issue Number: V 43163
Matrix Number: 243 Bn

14 Responses to “Ahmed Djewdet – Taxim Hicaz”

  1. Ian Nagoski said

    total dreamboat.

  2. Ian Nagoski said

    this Polygram label was designed by holograms, who in turn were designed by robots, who in turn were designed by giant apes, specifically for the purpose of messing with the minds of the likes of you and I. It is, they regret to inform us, our self-portrait. Whopeee!

  3. JW said

    I just laughed out loud.

    I knew it was those giant apes!!! Apes of the future. Apes-Ma.

  4. picturesclerk said

    it only seems a lonely romance: two instruments together as one, then apart, then together again.

    this is so beautiful and, as you say, elegant. i loved playing it here in cairo, it resonated throughout the apartment, drowning out the car horns and children yelling outside.

  5. Dax said

    Even more Turkish 78 reissues over at http://www.kalan.com

  6. JW said

    To the Pictures Clerk: beautiful!

    Dax: thanks for the tip on Kalan. If anyone has any of their discs and can comment on their restoration and sound, please comment.

  7. Adrian said

    Just discovered your blog. I’m a big fan of Secret Museum of Mankind and this is amazing, especially the Latin tracks. Keep up the good work!

  8. sroden said

    yeeeowza! what a gosh darned beautiful disc! thanks mucho for posting… (funny, i once bought a totally f-ed up melted japanese disc because of that polydor logo… it’s a mind control thing…)

  9. Dax said

    I haven’t bought any of the Kalan CDs yet, but there are sound samples on the site and they’re pretty good. You have to really dig through the whole catalog to find the 78 reissue CDs, which I’ve suggested they put in a separate category.

  10. David Houser said

    Damn I love this blog! Great stuff, I hope you keep it up.

  11. volkan said

    The player may be Ahmet Cevdet Çağla, who was born in 1900, and worked as a violinist in Radio of İstanbul and radio of Ankara. But i cannot find any evidence that he made some recordings in 78rpm.

  12. JW said

    Many thanks, Volkan! That sounds correct – I have seen other recordings by the same person (same spelling of his last name) also on Polydor…

  13. volkan said

    an old advertisement of polydor on a turkish music magazine in 1928

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