REPUBLIC OF TURKEY MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND TOURISM

Examination

EXAMINATION

At a convenient time for talking Atatürk said, turning to us.

-Let’s listen to one or two songs from the friends.

At once, we started to sing and play the songs he liked most. Atatürk was glad and listening with enthusiasm. He ordered me to sing a song but I was in the music group as a Ney player, besides there were friends with nice voices. I wonder if Atatürk didn’t care that I was a player and not a singer. My friends gave me the signal to sing, but I could not remember any song. I did not know what to do. One of my friends whispered in my ear “Cana rakibi handan edersin” (darling you make me unhappy).

Desperately, I started to sing only at the beginning of the second entrance.

- Stop. He said.

And asked.

- What is “Cana”?

I replied with half with the help of my friends and half from my own knowledge.

- The address sir.

- Why don’t you sing then determining the address.

Those times we would just play with all the power of our instruments and the singers would sing with all the strength of their larynx. We did not know anything about nuance, expression etc.

I sing as he desires me to, but he stops me again at the end of the line and one more warning “just read the lyrics of the song”.

I read. According to the pronunciation of those times we pronounced the word “edersin” as “idersin” and the word of “etme” as “itme”.

Atatürk:

- How do you say these words when you are speaking? Asked me.

I tell him.

- Why do you say than “idersin-itme” when you are singing?

No answer... thus I continue singing the song.

Atatürk likes to sing this song and he likes to sing the words of the song vigorously and strongly.

I finished the song half with help and half with effort but I had no more strength. After the song he asked questions about my family, my education, and me and made a polite joke concerning with my name that is same name with one of the shahzadahs (prince), thus I passed the first test.

This test had been done more or less to the the honour of the musicians honoured present.

Burhanettin Ökte, the ney player of the Fasıl Turkish music group, told me directly some of his memories and wrote some of them in music magazines.

Great Atatürk liked to listen to music two or three times a week when he was in Ankara but he liked to listen to music every night when he was in Istanbul. The Fasıl music group in Istanbul was appointed in full membership. But in Ankara a limited number of members were appointed.

On one night there were less guests than otherwise. We were there as a music group of four musicians. He also invited us to his table as a great politeness. By chance my seat was next to Mr. Ali Hikmet Pasha, the protector and lover of Turkish music.

Atatürk’s lifestyle in Çankaya villa was pleasurable but economically affordable. He let them prepare and arrange everything with great attention and fastidiously but without dissipating. We even saw meals brought from the house of Ali Cenani because of one or two extra guests. The preparing of the table and service at meals with garnishing on the plates and the way of serving were arranged to suit a president.

I was having trouble to adapt to such a custom that I was not used to.

Once, Atatürk asked the wishes of the guests. They wanted an entertainment song. We played. Ali Himmet Pasha then asked me to play a taksim.

I started the taksim entering softly, then started to sing in a strong voice. Everybody was listening. Now the roaring voice of Atatürk “Army! Your first target is the Mediterranean, rush ahead!” became harmonious music.

The impression was very nice but there was a special peculiarity that I did not recognise until that time. How beautifully Atatürk connected the words, harmony and melody and now he was illustrating the lyrics with gestures.

When the song ended, one of the guests kissed his hand. Another one of them wanted us to play a march that was being played very much. We started and when we reached the part about him, Atatürk stopped us.

- The victory is the work of the nation. I just did my duty like the other citizens, nothing else, he said.

It was far past midnight. The guests left his presence one by one after kissing his hands.