top of page

A Tribute to Ali Ufki

Album cover by Gökhan Güneş

I’m thrilled to announce that my third album has now been released. This album is a musicological work and focuses on 17th century Ottoman music. When I was working on my master’s thesis on Ali Ufki’s manuscript, I came across 2 folk songs which caught my attention. I felt that both the melodies and lyrics were beautifully simplistic with a pure energy. After doing some quick research I concluded that these songs are sadly not known by the musical community today. It looks like they were played in the past but somehow, they have been forgotten. So, I decided to record these folk pieces and bring them back to life again.

Let me tell you about Ali Ufki who is one of the most important people in Turkish music history. Ali Ufki was a Polish individual who was captured by Tatars during raids in Europe. As he was a polygot and talented musician Tatars brought him to the palace in Istanbul where he served the Sultan for around 20 years. He worked as an interpreter and music teacher. His original name was Wojciech Bobowski and he converted to Islam and changed his name to “Ali Ufki”.

At this time Turks were using the meşk system which required repetition with the master. This system had pros and cons. The obvious disadvantage was the risk of forgetting the compositions since most of them were not written on a paper. Ali Ufki transcribed more than 500 compositions by using European notation system and thanks to him we have a large amount of corpus from 17th century Ottoman Istanbul.

Elçin, S. (1976). Ali UFKÎ Hayatı ve Eserleri ve Mecmûa-I sâz ü söz (Tıpkıbasım). Millî Eğitim Basımevi. (Page 81)

I would like to thank Ahmet Polat who sang the pieces and also played oud & bendir. Miase Örümlü contributed significantly with her distinct ney timber. She is one of the prominent ney players today. Eleonora Atalay did great work audio mastering, as she did in my previous album. The album cover that Gökhan created shows that he's interested not only in drawing but also in the cultural aspect of the subject. They shared the same enthusiasm in bringing these folk songs back to life.

I hope today’s musicians will add these two folk songs to their repertoire. I’m sure Ali Ufki will be listening to them.


bottom of page