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