Monday, March 19, 2012

Dance Music: Kiss Kiss

Tarkan: Kiss Kiss

After our travels overseas last week to Ireland, maybe I can take you a little farther east? In my corner of the world (Istanbul, Turkey), it doesnt take much to get us up and dancing. Where a "western" concert audience would remain seated as they appreciate a lively, up-tempo song (maybe discretely tapping their feet or fingers), here, the audience breaks into spontaneous clapping in time with the song. All we need is a decent rhythm to get us going.

Several of the traditional Turkish instruments of folk music are well suited to bringing a crowd to their feet: the stringed "saz", the hand-held "darbuka" drum and the woodwind "zurna" among them. Many produce a raucus sound that is best appreciated when you yourself are on your feet.

Unfortunately, there arent many Turkish musicians who have made much of an impact on the US music scene. Ahmet Ertegun, who founded Atlantic records doesnt count: he wasnt known for his musical chops; rather, he discovered some of the best dance music of the 60s in the US.

One Turkish musician who has made some inroads in the US music scene is Tarkan. And in fact, at one point in Tarkan's career, Ahmet Ertegun recognized his potential and invited him to New York to sign with Atlantic records. "Kiss Kiss" may even be vaguely familiar to you (also named "Simarik" - although I have westernized several of the characters in this spelling so you can actually see them - in TR: Şımarık). Compared to classical Turkish folk music, his songs are much more highly engineered/produced. They do however retain many of the essential elements of Turkish music: the drum rhythm is authentic, the use of strings is true to the culture, as are the vocal gymnastics that include touches of the eastern pentatonic scale/wail.

While this may not be your type of music, I think you'll have to admit that it is hard to listen and sit still.  That's exactly what the lyrics say. A liberal translation could be "Hold still, girl/Don't dance (snap, snap). Man you're something else..." Tip: as you dance., raise your hands a-la-"Zorba". (We're not Greeks, but we're related).

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