A 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 ca. 1928-1930 by Polydor, most likely in Istanbul, then Constantinople (Polydors of this vintage often have “Mechanical copyright” dates on them, however, this series does not). 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.
The performer is Ahmet Cevdet Çağla, who was a lead performer in the Dar’üt-Ta’lim-i Musiki group, who also recorded for Polydor (thank you to reader Cem Çoker).
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?
Issue Number: V 43163
Matrix Number: 243 Bn
16 thoughts on “Ahmed Djewdet – Taxim Hicaz”
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!
I just laughed out loud.
I knew it was those giant apes!!! Apes of the future. Apes-Ma.
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.
Even more Turkish 78 reissues over at http://www.kalan.com
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.
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!
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…)
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.
Damn I love this blog! Great stuff, I hope you keep it up.
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.
The player is Ahmet Cevdet Çağla. He was the first violin in the Dar’üt-Ta’lim-i Musiki ensemble, which performed in a large number of recordings for Polydor.
Thank you very much – that is a very old posting (15 years old!) and was in need of better detail. Thank you.
Many thanks, Volkan! That sounds correct – I have seen other recordings by the same person (same spelling of his last name) also on Polydor…
an old advertisement of polydor on a turkish music magazine in 1928
It blew my mind!