Emin Efendi – Hale Makame

Some of the loudest instruments known to man are double-reed folk instruments in the woodwind family. There’s the dulzaina in Spain, the nadaswaram in India, the bombarde in France, the suona in China, among others. They are classically difficult to play – without continuous practice, a player’s mouth can get tired in a very brief period of time, due to the immense amount of air pressure needed to make a single sound, much less sustain a note. Some even demand circular breathing. Double-reed instruments developed over centuries, beginning in the Middle Ages, as instruments to be used primarily outdoors.

The zurna is the Turkish, or more precisely the Anatolian, double-reed folk instrument, in the shawm group of double-reeds. Similar variations of the zurna exist throughout the Near East. The word itself derives from the Persian “Surnay” – “Sur” meaning “wedding” or “festival”, and “nay” meaning reed or flute. It has 5-7 wide finger holes and can be as small as 14 inches long. It’s an important instrument in Turkish folk music, and I have to say it was interesting to read how writers in the past have tried to grapple with describing its sound. “…A wide-mouthed clarinet, emitting strident, nasal sounds” was how Ottoman scholar Robert Mantran described it. “A kind of shrill pipe” was how H. C. Hony’s 1957 Turkish-English dictionary defined it. It may have been simply noise to those poor souls, but I find it a terrific combination of jarring and captivating.

Today’s post is an exceptional, scorching workout on the zurna with accompaniment on oud and percussion (not the usual davul drum); a sparkling recording made in 1930 by the German Polydor company, and also released on a next-to-unknown Turkish series on the American Brunswick label. Interestingly, this recording was bootlegged in the late 40s/early 50s on a small label called Kurdophone, which was part of a family of labels I’ve discussed in other entries (Dictaphone, Perfectaphone, etc.). That is not to say it is common, I’m afraid! As to whether or not it’s definitively Kurdish, I cannot say. My hunch is that it is not, though perhaps some experts can comment. I could find nothing concrete about the soloist, Emin Efendi, except that he was considered a great, along with another zurna master who recorded later for Columbia, Sabahattin Tanınmış. I believe “Hale” in the title refers to halay, the traditional dance. Please see more information on this track from the always helpful volkan, in the comments section.

Emin Efendi – Hale Makame

I would also recommend the Bo’Weavil release of zurna melodies by Zadik Zecharia.

Technical Notes
Label: Brunswick
Issue Number: 45011
Matrix Number: 1106 BN (Polydor matrix)

14 thoughts on “Emin Efendi – Hale Makame

  1. Thanks for the record.

    Whether this song is Kurdish or not is debatable. Most probably, this song bootlegged by Kurdophone because halay dance belongs to eastern-southeastern Anatolia and may attract Kurdish listeners even if the song is not Kurdish. And I agree with you that the word hale is used for halay.

    This record is interesting in two respects. First, Emin Efendi is known as a represantative of Ottoman İstanbul’s music. He plays taksims, peşrevs and çiftetellis. But halay is not accepted “elegant” as taksims or peşrevs are.

    Other interesting thing is the accompanying ud. Since the playing style and shouts are totally rustic, the ud seems irrelevant. And I think the accompanying percussion is not a davul, since it is not played with a stick.

    And some of the shouts:

    38”-40” : “Hadi Memo Memo Memo Memo” (come on Memo) Memo is both a abbreviation for the name Mehmet, and a famous song’s name. But obviously the name is meant here, since the zurna player did not switch to the song Memo. Probably someone is calling Mehmet to join the dance.

    41” : “Yoşşa Hamido yaşo” (yaşa Hamit yaşa – long live Hamit, long live) It is understood that one of the dancers, Hamit, dances well.

    at the end: “Yoşa kurban” (yaşa kurban – long live my friend) And this sentence must be directed to the zurna player.

    A native Turkish speaker can immediately tell that this utterances are uttered by someone from the eastern Anatolia. Also he can think that while some people dancing halay, this record was made.

    Thanks again for this confusing record. Maybe the back side of the record may give us some other information.

  2. Thanks so much, Volkan! Your insights and thoughts are greatly appreciated. I will post an addendum with the information on the second side tomorrow – it is by an entirely different artist and from a different year.

  3. Amazingly clear recording. I do wonder if it isn’t an oud but a cümbüş (oud set-up), not only by the tone quality but by the context, just as Volkan wonders.

  4. There’s another excellent zurna track available on Rounder’s mostly ignored “Masters of Turkish Music” collection that Dick Spottswood oversaw in 1990. It’s Kurdaphone 501, for those who may care. It also kicks considerable ass!

  5. Good point, brooos – all three volumes of the Masters of Turkish Music series are well worth getting, (Is that collection mostly ignored? It’s managed to thankfully remain in print for well over a decade!)

  6. Thanks so much for the track! I just stumbled across your site, and I can’t stop listening to this. Now I’m gonna have to look up other zurna recordings…

  7. Great Record thanks for posting,in regards to another comment by broos i found Kurdaphone 501 on 78 in a stack of over a 150 turkish 78`s last year,and i agree with kurd 501 is a master piece and kicks ass

  8. M. Robertson and/or broos – If you could, please list the title/artist of Kurdaphone 501 and perhaps some of us could figure out the original label the track appeared on, as surely it was dubbed from another source, possibly quite earlier, as is the case with the Emin Efendi track.

  9. HI JW here`s the info on the Kurdaphone 501,it does look like it`s a dub,but has very good sound,i wrote down the info as it apeers on the 78,

    side B
    Oyun Havase
    Davol ve Zourna

    Side A
    oyun havase
    kurd muziki

    on the ronder cd that i also have they give credit to Zurnaci halil and credit and title the song as hallay dance but it`s the same recording on side b on the kurdaphone 501,

    i can send you scan of the 78 if that would be any help,

  10. Thanks! This is great. That information yet again confirms something that I’ve experienced: the folks who made the Dictaphone/Kurdaphone/Perfectaphone/Armenophone records often did not have the titles correct, or deliberately altered them to avoid any problems. The recording on the Rounder CD is probably from the original release.

    They were dubs, indeed, all of them. Dubs in the sense that they may have come from reel-to-reel tape, even. Otherwise, you’d see an imprint of the original matrix number in the dead wax (for this example above, you see Polydor mx. numbers clearly). But yes, their dubs were really quite well made! I believe many of the records found on Dictaphone/Armenophone were dubs from the CCCP/USSR label.

  11. After listening more of Zurnacı Emin and other zurna-players of İstanbul, I want to add a couple of information:

    The zurna tradition of İstanbul is somewhat different than Anatolia. In Anatolia, the only accompanying instrument to zurna is davul (drum). But in İstanbul the davul was not used, instead nakkare was preferred. And sometimes an ud accompanied to the zurna and nakkare.

    Also, the sound of zurna is different in İstanbul. It is not as sharp as the Anatolian zurna.

    Now, the track ‘hale makame’:

    The track is the imitation of the Eastern Kurdish dance music by an Istanbulite zurna-player. The name of the track must be something like ‘halay havası’ in Turkish, and the spelling of ‘hale makame’ must be the Kurdish spelling. (Unfortunately I could not find such a record of Zurnacı Emin in the catalogues of Cemal Ünlü and Turkish National Library. The most close record title is ‘oyun havası’, which simply means ‘dance music’ and can be everything.)

    I am pretty sure that the accompanying stringed instrument is ud, but I doubt that nakkare is also used. It sounds more like a darbuka.

    In Turkish folk music records of that time, it was usual that some people in the studio uttered some words to elate the performer. In the utterances, I hear two different male voices: One is only saying ‘haydi Memo Memo Memo’ two times (one at the beginning and one at the end), and the other is always speaking during the record. From the accent, it is obvious that the first speaker is -like Emin Efendi- also Istanbulite, and imitates some ‘rustic’ shouts. The other speaker speaks Kurdish (sometimes using Turkish words).

    I don’t know that if it was possible with the recording technique of that day but it seems to me that the Kurdish shouts were added later to the original record. Or another -and I think far fetched- possibility is that the recording company found some Kurdish man to shout like this in order to make the record more familiar to the Kurdish ear (because the style of the zurna may be irrelevant for a Kurdish dance music). But then there is another question: Was there a sizable Kurdish record buyer that it would be worth for a company to try such marketing tricks?

  12. It would be interesting to see what the title of this disc was on Polydor. From my perspective, this disc being released in America in the 1930s by Brunswick, it’s being marketed to Armenians, and that is probably where the strange spelling of the title comes from. The primary market of Eastern Anatolian music (whether or not it’s an imitation) in America was the Armenian community. Among the Armenians the word “halay” generally morphs into “Hale” which as far as I understand is a Harput-Armenian dialect form of the word “Halay”.

    Generally the Armenians considered Hale a specific dance type which is a bit different than the Turkish word “Halay” which as I understand it can mean any circle dance. And, as for the term “Hale Makame” this is also unusual but there was a recording on Columbia in 1927 by Armenian violin player Stepan Simonian from Worcester, MA, who was born in Harput-Mezire (i.e. Elazig), and he titled his record “Hale Makame” as well. In fact Stepan titled all his dance tunes with the label “Makame” rather than “Havasi”. I am not sure why he did this. But I would guess that this spelling inspired Brunswick to release Zurnazan Emin’s recording in America with the same spelling.

    As for the Kurdaphone label this was owned by an Armenian record store owner named H.M. Tashjian who produced numerous bootlegs for the Armenian and Middle Eastern community in America on his various labels (Perfectaphone, Armenaphone, Kurdaphone, Popular, etc.)

    1. Dear Harry – thanks so much for your comment. As you can see, this post is about 12 years old now…and an update is sorely needed. I had hoped to come back to it to discuss this track further (the Tashjian saga I also know very well), because I do in fact have the original Turkish Polydor of this disc. And your theory is correct regarding “Makame” and “Havasi,” as the original title on Polydor is “Kürt Oyun Havası.”

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