December 27, 2008

Turkish Concert Surprise
Istanbul, Turkey

Neşe, our CouchSurfing hostess, was quite keen on taking us out to an evening market and then off to a live concert (strings and percussion) this evening. But I felt like skipping the cold, rainy outing.

Besides, if I stayed home then at least one of us could go and be assured a good time, rather than both of us going and possibly ending up in a situation that puts us all in a bad mood (taking care of Aidric for hours on end in situations we can't easily get out of is a risky, high-maintenance venture).

For me, the reward just wasn't there for the effort involved, so I was more than happy to let the girls go out for the evening whilst I did the babysitting thing at home.

It was closing in on midnight by the time Tatiana and Neşe got back. The two popped through the door, and Tatiana was absolutely glowing—totally gitty. I ask the pair what was up, and they told this entertaining story to me:

The (free) concert they ended up going to was packed—a couple hundred people in the audience—well over capacity, standing room in the back only. It was traditional Turkish music they were playing, but Tatiana had recognized a familiar item on stage amongst the others. It was an Afro-Peruvian instrument called the cajón (Spanish for 'crate', 'drawer', or 'box').

The cajón is the most widely used Afro-Peruvian musical instrument in the 20th century.

Slaves of West and Central African origin in the Americas, specifically Peru, are considered to be the source of the cajón drum; though the instrument is common in musical performance throughout the Americas, especially Cuba. In Cuba, the cajón is associated with the Afro-Cuban drum/song/dance style known as rumba, while in Peru it is associated with several Afro-Peruvian genres.

The cajón was most likely developed in coastal Peru during the early 1800s. The instrument reached a peak in popularity by 1850, and by the end of the 19th century cajón players were experimenting with the design of the instrument by bending some of the planks in the cajón's body to alter the instrument's patterns of sound vibration.

Knowing that the cajón comes from slave musicians in the Spanish colonial Americas, there are two complementary origin theories for the instrument. It is possible that the drum is a direct descendant of a number of boxlike musical instruments from west and central Africa, especially Angola, and the Antilles. These instruments were adapted by Peruvian slaves from the Spanish shipping crates at their disposal. Elsewhere, small dresser drawers became instruments.

Another theory posits that slaves simply used boxes as musical instruments to combat contemporary Spanish colonial bans on music in predominantly African areas. In this way, cajóns could easily be disguised as seats or stools, thus avoiding identification as musical instruments. In all likelihood it is a combination of these factors—African origins and Spanish suppression of slave music—that led to the cajón's creation.

During the intermission Tatiana and our hostess approached the stage and met some of the musicians. Tatiana shared her knowledge of the instrument with some of the band members, and then got blown away when the band later announced that they "had a very special guest from Peru in the audience tonight."

So they brought the girl up on stage during the second half of the performance and she played with band. (laughing) So wacky, you just can't make this stuff up!

So I suppose I should fill you in a bit on Tatiana's history with this instrument. Not only is this woman quite adept at languages and styles of dance, but she's got some damn fine skills with this old slave instrument—I've heard her play on the one she's got at home. She used to practice on the thing when she was younger until her fingers turned raw, in addition to taking classes from one of the most renowned female musicians to ever come out of Peru (…and I believe her).

Neşe said she did quite well, and managed to snap a pair of photos with Tatiana's camera of the experience:



Craig |

February 24th, 2009

I recently got put onto the 'Taksim Trio' by a friendly Turkish fellow.

Some great music by these three. Check out a clip:



February 24th, 2009

Nice pics!!!! no wonder she was so happy, she just loves the cajon!

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