a music lesson

August 20, 2013

It was 5 am. I got mad at myself for a second. Once more I end up at the wee hours, no sleep… I went for a lesson… I never know what is going to happen. Every meeting has been its own new adventure. This time I met my teacher at Galata Tower and and we rode in the car, down a precipitous hill then across the Golden horn and up another hill to the grand Bazar. My stomach is not good. I have not gone to rehearsal for the Sunday show with Pery, I’m feeling weak and dizzy. I don’t know if I can do the show but that’s another topic…


He walks me through the market, we get cornered into a carpet salesman tiny cubicle… They are incredible salesmen… don’t show any interest or you will not be able to escape…


Out of one of the market doors, outside, we go through an arch, cross the street and he tells me that this arch, is a lover’s arch. A man had been in love with one of the Sultan’s girls. He was to die for this at this very place. He died saying that he would be remembered through the ages and he was right. The lover’s arch..


Up the road, he shows me this ancient tower. Put there by Romans, the stones are so worn out by time, thousands of years… How to imagine such a thing? I put my hands on the stones but somehow I don’t feel much… the structure is impressive. One earth quake and it will be down in a dust pile… but there it is girded by metal loops to keep the top parts together.


Then we walk towards the sunset, the light is amazing. There are hundreds of tombs on our right with Arabic script. This is so old… I think of the remains and imagine there musn’t be much left in this tired earth. They are so close together… some are topped by types of stone hats and turbans. The person’s status in living life. Children’s graves. Royal children… all that went by, all those lives that we recall because of old worn out stones. We keep walking.


Into another structure near the university. He tells me of the students who were machine gunned down by the army in the 70’s… They died hugging each other as the soldiers obeyed orders. How does one live on after such a thing? The history is deep. The blood is thick. All these factions still fight and my heart aches.


We get to the university’s plaza. The place has an incredible energy. There are people sitting everywhere around there. I can see why.


We head back to the car. He plays music, explains some of it, indicates various voice techniques, we drive around and I look. “I want you to see how the people live.” I look around, all around. It is another world. In the car the feeling is one similar to watching TV. We stop by a grocery store. I look and look… the rhythm. I am so outside all of this. Can I get inside? He wants me to see this in order to understand the music. I am only seeing the broad strokes with a few touches of color here and there. The broad lines. But do I understand them? I don’t know. Will I see more as I penetrate deeper into this world?


This voyage has put me time and time again in front of the fact that I don’t know anything. Even what I thought I knew, I don’t know anything. It seems that so much of what I’ve done has been barely skimming the surface of the topic. Besides my own artistic explorations, I don’t know anything about anything. Besides my connection with a motorcycle I don’t know anything of the engines of them. I am a particle floating, always have been, maybe that explains how quickly my viewpoint becomes one of a short lens, with the past blurring quickly away. So to only be in this very instant.


We get to his place, he gives me something for my upset stomach, two pills… I hesitate, I don’t ever take pills of any kind then I decide to trust. He brings a bağlama and shows me a right hand technique. I try and I sound so pitifully like a beginner. I am a beginner. I cannot pretend anything else. He makes menemen, a concoction of tomatoes, eggs and pepper. It is delicious. Then we start watching videos of various bağlama players… I am taken. I have not had a chance to do this, I actually did more of this when I was in California. There they go, one musician after another. He then shows me another technique for the right hand, explains the rhythms…


The night turned into morning. He drives me back. I got home surrounded by the sound of morning prayer bouncing off every hill from multiple mosques. It is surreal. The city still sleeps. A black cat runs nervously down a hill in the yellow light of the lampadaires.




3 Responses to “a music lesson”

  1. connie pryor Says:

    Ausome story sounds great on a day like today for me. Some of that I can relate yo. The feelings. Oh god the feelings.nobody knows what another person feels deep inside. God bless you danielle. Safe travels!!!

  2. connie pryor Says:

    Went back to read your story again. They are some very old buildings.danielle, you are ausome. You have talent & bravery that most people do not.bring on more of that beautiful music & pics. Wow!!! Its great!!!!

  3. Danielle Liard Says:

    I beg to differ honey, you do so know things. You may not know that specific culture, but you are immersed in it for only a short time and were not born to it. The grand tour he gave you sounds like a great introduction. Don’t be afraid of sharing your own knowledge with him when the time comes.

    Love to you.


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