Uzun Hava

Osman Kivrak (Composed: 1997)

Bela Bartok, who made extensive use of folk music elements when composing, visited Turkey in 1936 and collected a number of songs and dances. This collection was published subsequently and presented in a book titled "Turkish Folk Music From Asia Minor".  In this book, Bartok describes an experience he encountered in his trip to a rural part of Turkey:

"...but what a dance it was! And the music was astounding. One of the musicians was playing an instrument that looked like an oboe and the other was playing a bass drum that was tied to his belly. Four men were dancing and the two musicians, drummer, and the oboist were from time to time taking part in the dance. After a short while, the music and dance came to a sudden halt and one of the dancers started a song as if he was exploding. There was a distant and passionate expression in his face. He started the song at a very high tenor voice, and gradually winding down, he came down to a normal register."

The singer who "exploded" into a song was singing an uzun hava. Uzun hava is the name of one of the two main categories of Turkish folk music. (The other category is called kirik hava which is dance music that is fast, rhythmic and lively). Uzun hava consists of broad, descending melodic lines and they are improvisatory, unmeasured, and performed freely with no particular rhythm, sometimes unaccompanied and sometimes to the accompaniment of a steady drone in the background.  In this piece, I have tried to create the improvisational effect of an Uzun Hava.

CRITICS ACCOLADES: Kivrak compositions

“ . . . a welcome burst of sunshine. Growing from a hypnotic drone into a wild dervish dance. . .”
Joe Banno, Washington Post

“ . . . lovely, intertwining melodies that were at once beautiful yet dark. . .”
Alex Arcone, Alexandria Gazette

“ . . . infused the audience with joy and moved them to the verge of dance.”|
Dennis Forney, Cape Gazette