Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Istanbul 2011

Greetings from Istanbul!

I’m back in the “Land of Antraman” and so far this is the best year yet! I have never been so in love with a city before. I wake up every morning with a huge smile on my face, so happy to be here in this beautiful exotic city that is home to the greatest dumbek players on earth and the sweetest people!

This year I came with two of my friends/ student, Sam and Euphrates.

Sam Tynker is an ADORABLE guy from New Mexico who makes his living as a circus performer. Some of you may have seen him at Pensic.

Euphrates was one of the students in my university dumbek class in Cairo, Egypt. She is an incredible fire spinner who just finished college. What a welcome into the real world, coming to Istanbul for the winter to practice dumbek!

We are renting two rooms at Studio Fabrica a music studio in the heart of the music discrict. I've been here for two weeks and have not had to take a single form of transportation other than walking. Everything is within walking distance - every music store, every music venue, all the great master musicians have their studios right around here. The building is full of music studios so we hear music all day long. Everyone practicing all day.

The studio is run by two brothers, Hakan and Vulkan (thats another thing I love about Istanbul. Everyone has names from Star Treck!) Hakan is a great darbuka player and Vulkan plays Turkish clarinet. There are musicians coming in and out of the studio all day long.

Here is a typical day for us
We wake up at noon, read some yoga sutras and sit in group meditation.

Then we go out for our morning excursion. First we have some pamogranate juice at a table outside facing the Galata Tower. Then we sit in a coffee place on a windy cobblestone street and study Turkish and then go to Emin Percussion the famous drum store/ drummer to hangout and practice with whoever happens to be there. Serdar works there. He used to study with Misirli Ahmet and he's very fun to practice with. He and I like to listen to Indian tabla rhythms and adapt them for dumbek.

Then we come back to the studio and practice. Euphrates and I begin by working on our Mongolian Throat Singing. Our friends here don't quite know what to make of it.

Bunyamin arrives every day at around 4. For those of you who don't know, Bunyamin is my teacher. I've been studying with him for two years now. I can't really describe the experience of seeing this man play in words other than "miraculous". I can't believe I get to sit and practice with this gifted being every day. Sometimes Euphrates and Sam have lessons with him but most often Bunyamin and I practice together. Lately he has been channeling so many incredible new ideas which I'm trying to organize into a new duet for us to perform. His ideas are flowing so fast I can barely keep up writing them all down!

Every evening there is a stunning sunset which I can see from my window overlooking the Galata Bridge. I just never get tired of watching the sun set behind the mosques with seagulls flying around.

I've shown Sam and Euphrates my secret Turkish Split Hand Technique Drill Series. They are obsessed and so the drills for hours every day.

A few times a week we go out to hear live music. There is incredible live music almost every night of the week, within walking distance from our place. Our more popular hang out is a place called "Araf" that has great Turkish bands.

We end each day with a late night yoga session starting at around 2am. Bedtime is around 4.

I'm finding more and more options for great vegan food. There's really some delicious veggis here! My latest discovery is "mercemek kofte" - these delicious balls made of lentils made to look like meatballs. And the salads are gorgeous. I'm still obsessed with simits, the Turkish style bagels.

As if it wasn't enough having two dumbek masters Bunyamin and Hakan practicing in our house every day, the virtuoso Suat Borazan has taken a liking to our place and also comes here to practice with us! We often end up all playing together trading off solos. What a humbling experience! But I'm happy to see that all the practicing has paid off - I can keep up much better that I could in the last trip.

Also, Hamdi Akatay, one of the fathers of the Turkish Split Hand Technique, has his group class right across the hall from us once a week, so we get to jam with him and his students!

Misirli Ahmet's studio is a five minute walk from my place. He's not accepting new students into his school now but he did promise me that he and I will practice together Friday at 6! Wish me luck!

So basically we are right in the heart of the Istanbul dumbek scene. I'm so grateful to be here and I can't believe the incredible opportunities we are having!

How amazing! One day soon I will join you there....
By the way, izzie is Karen the Cavegirl!
Raquy, Thanks for posting this blog. Since Sam is so busy I haven't heard anything from him. It's nice to know that that everything is working out so remarkably. Great pics too.
Tell Sam I say Hi.
Rebekah Tynker
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