Music Forum: “Village – Environment – Studio: ‘Doga için Çal’ and the Cartographies of Modern Turkey”

Date(s) - 03/11/2016
2:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Rm. 3491 (Large Seminar Rm.), Graduate Center

Music Forum Topic: “Village – Environment – Studio: ‘Doga için Çal’ and the Cartographies of Modern Turkey”

Guest Speaker: Eliot Bates (Lecturer in Ethnomusicology and Popular Music Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK)

About the Topic:

Doga için Çal, literally ‘play for nature’, is a video series featuring hundreds of amateur and professional musicians ostensibly playing or singing for environmentalism. This highly acclaimed, corporate sponsored series initially aired online in2009 and went viral in 2011. Part of the wide appeal of the series is its open and flexible conceptualization of nature, which contrasts with a much longer history of musical environmentalism which often targets specific, local environmental issues (e.g. Gezi Park, the Sinop nuclear power plant, or the HES network of hydroelectric dams). But the specific political valences of the project are unclear, and in many regards Doga için Çal, with its uncontroversial folksong repertoire and absence of ethnic language songs, can be read as quite socially conservative.

I argue that the series is perfectly ‘natural’ with regards to Turkey’s nearly ninety-year history of state-driven national folklore projects. Rather than a radical departure, Doga için Çal serves to‘remap’ both Turkish nationalized folklore and the practices and spaces of the recording studio onto the Turkish Republic and Turkish diaspora – and in doing so heralds the ‘death of the village’ and underscores the asymmetrical economic development of different regions. My talk uses these videos to explore the audible aspects of how maps and mapping practices come to make space more sensible.

About the Speaker:

Dr Eliot Bates is a scholar specializing in the emergence and development of digital music technologies, and the transformations to instrumental performance practice that accompanied the adoption of computer-based recording techniques. An ethnomusicologist by training, he has conducted over three years of field research in Turkey, and is the author of Music in Turkey: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture (OUP, 2011) and articles on acoustic instruments, aesthetics, studio architecture, and the emergence of an industry for Anatolian minority language popular musics. His newest monograph, entitled Digital Tradition: Arranging and Engineering Traditional Music in Turkey, will be published by Oxford University Press in 2016. Eliot is a Lecturer in Ethnomusicology and Popular Music Studies at the University of Birmingham (UK), and following his PhD studies at UC Berkeley he was an ACLS New Faculty Fellow at Cornell and taught at the University of Maryland, College Park. In addition to his scholarly interests, for twenty years Eliot has been a performer andrecording artist on the oud. Most recently, his duo The Big Bumble Bees (with organist Baby Dee) released their debut album (on yellow vinyl) through TinAngel Records.



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