MY VIEWS ON BEING A MUSICIAN

Making music is like speaking; it is a language. One needs to know certain things to be able to talk about them. Not everyone who speaks a language is a man of letters; he cannot write a book. Everyone who has a mouth can speak unless s/he has a "hearing" problem; however, not everyone can express themselves adequately or speak in the same language. If you ask someone who is not interested in literature the difference between Yasar Kemal and Orhan Pamuk, you can't get an answer to your question. This is the case for music, too. One needs to be interested in music to be able to answer some questions. One needs to think. One needs to know…

As for the situation today, like all branches of art, music has degenerated due to political reasons. We have been presented with "English" as the language of today, "cloths produced by the same companies under different brands" as the clothing of today, "pop" as the music of today, "the Hollywood cinema" as the cinema of today. Other branches of art have not been dwelled on much as they do not attract the interest of the public much, but they have also had their share. As for the place of art in politics, I see that art is used as a tool to entertain the public, keep its morale high and distract it.

When we take a look at history, this is how the development art stated; however, the human being and aesthetics have also changed with the nature within the course of time. For example, the pleasure one took from a concert that s/he dreamed about for days and had to travel tens of kilometers and took great pains to see in the past must be different from the pleasure taken from the 'fast foodish' music that is presented to us without giving a chance to dream of it. I think this is a world policy that involves and affects such third class developing countries as Turkey (just like today's chickens developing in factories in an improper fashion with hormones). We are being made to forget the taste we get from foods and the pleasure we take from art. We consume hormone-injected foodstuff and hormone-injected music. We are taught what to like.

While the greatest empire was ruling a hundred million people two centuries ago, a handful of people want to rule six billion people. Therefore, people are deprived of their thinking skill, their fates are sealed and even their freedom is restricted. And they will cut of the head of a cock that crows untimely. I don't know whether they will still cut off its head even if the cock crows beautifully but this is how the saying goes. And I believe this situation will continue unless the human model that searches thinks and can express himself / herself increases in number.

If you ask me why I make music today, I would say I do because I don't take the same pleasure in anything else. Very few other jobs involve taking pleasure, being satisfied and being able to see the admiration in the eyes of those people listening to you. I think making music is a profession; it is like being a servant. While learning to make music, you also learn serving. You serve art itself, those who listen to you and sometimes you serve yourself. In this respect, we can liken musicians to geishas; another characteristic these two separate life styles have in common is that both musicians and geishas have very big egos. After developing yourself and your outlook on life for years, if you can musical comments, if you have a story to narrate and if people listen to your story envyingly, you may find it difficult to satisfy your egos after a while.

You undergo a lengthy training to be able to perform your profession and then you learn how to both take pleasure and satisfy yourself and also how to please others; that is, you have an enjoyable profession. You might have to opt for only one of these two: you will either satisfy yourself, which might not satisfy others sometimes, or you will act according to others, which is not for you sometimes; that is to say, music can occasionally be an unpleasant profession too. Self-satisfaction has partly to do with knowing oneself and while this is a situation which can change any moment for some, it may continue the same during a life time for others. I think knowing oneself, knowing life and knowing music are things that develop parallel to one another. Since these don't have a limit, everybody can interpret them according to their own opinions and some people can sometimes get lost. However, it is a fact that everybody tells something about himself / herself when playing. Just like our body language tells what we really want to say no matter what we are talking about, the music we make tells about us. Music is a means of communication and is also a language that it hard to learn; being understood is even a luxury. Just like our mimics do not only express happiness or sorrow when we talk, music does not only involve happiness and sorrow but tens of feelings and states. It may be that, intentionally or unintentionally, you don't reflect your state of mind at that certain moment each time you make music. Sometimes you play according to the feelings of other people even if you feel differently, you might have to satisfy the listeners, which people usually do for fame or money. If being a musician is a profession that is similar to being a geisha, we can call those who are interested only in this aspect of music the prostitutes of this profession (selling your body for money is probably not as serious as selling your sour for money).

Isn't this what life consists of anyway? We live sometimes for ourselves and sometimes for others but we can't decide no matter how hard we try. We save up the pluses and minuses life has to offer in our backpack; sometimes the pluses outweigh the minuses and we are happy and sometimes it is vice versa and we are sad;
however, I believe we must manage to keep a balance in life under any circumstances. Everybody's balance can be different just like everyone has his/her inner voice, soul. Therefore, we should avoid patterning ourselves on anyone and imitating them but we must benefit from their life experience and we must establish our lives as we get to know ourselves better. Those following the voice of others may get lost and forget what they want from life and what they are looking for; this is the case for music as well. If intelligence is a favour, cleverness is a virtue; being clever is being able to use your intelligence.

Bilal KARAMAN. 2006/

Translated from Turkish by Cenk Atayeter