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Trio Tzane interprets Balkan music in neo-traditional way July 5, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey.
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Trio Tzane interprets Balkan music in neo-traditional way – What happens if a Bulgarian, a Greek and a Turk come together to make music? United under the motto “Balkan polyphonies and other vocal stories,” Trio Tzane is itself a story of a meeting of three women from three countries, three nationalities.
What happens if a Bulgarian, a Greek and a Turk come together to make music? United under the motto “Balkan polyphonies and other vocal stories,” Trio Tzane is itself a story of a meeting of three women from three countries, three nationalities.

Xanthoula Dakovanou from Greece, Sandrine Monlezun from Bulgaria and Gül Hacer Toruk from Turkey met each other in Paris and decided to join their voices in polyphony. Even though they seem to be from different cultures, they in fact have much in common. They sing in Greek, Turkish, Bulgarian, Serbian, Macedonian, telling Balkan stories in their own way, mixing vocal improvisations with compositions by young talent. Trio Tzane, as a vocal project, comes to life in this way, with three different but harmonic voices.

The trio released their first album, “Gaitani,” on April 27 in France. It will be released in Turkey in October on the A.K. Müzik label.

A story of meeting: Tzane

The story of the three musicians’ meeting is a musical story that meanders from Macedonia to the Black Sea region. “It was founded in Paris about three years ago by the three of us,” says Dakovanou in an interview with Today’s Zaman. “We already had a Turkish-Greek song group, Hacer and I. One day we invited Sandrine to a concert, and we realized that we had a lot in common.”

“Xanthoula had come to Paris in order to live there,” says Toruk, “and I was born in Turkey but grew up in France. Despite this, I grew up listening to Turkish songs. And Sandrine has lived in Bulgaria for many years; she learned Bulgarian language and songs there. So, I teach them Turkish songs, Sandrine teaches us Bulgarian songs and Xanthoula teaches Greek songs. The three of us share all we know with each other.”

The name of the group is a word which has traveled a long way throughout history, like their music. The word “Tzane” comes from “jaan,” a Persian word that traveled from Iran to Turkey and then to Greece and Bulgaria. “Tzane means ‘soul’, and it’s used in Turkish, in Bulgarian and Greek, which have the same meaning,” says Dakovanou, explaining the origin of their group name. “We also had a song like that, we were inspired from that and we took this name.”

Music as a way of expression

“We choose the songs that we love and that we want to share,” says Dakovanou, explaining what their music means to them. “To try to live your culture in a foreign country is important because it’s always in your heart, and you want to express it, but it’s not enough. We are today’s people, so our traditions change with us and the places we go and they become ours. It is more interesting for us that the tradition becomes ours and then we express it in a personal way.”

“We express ourselves with this music,” confirms Toruk. “These are our own stories, our own acquisitions and knowledge. We are reinterpreting the folkloric songs with our own style.”

Of course, in this process, there are many sources from which the trio is nurtured. “There are many groups that we like,” says Toruk. “There are lots of choruses in Bulgaria that influence us. From Turkey, we sing the song ‘Siyah Perçemlerin’ (Your Black Tufts) by Erkan Oğur, but we are singing it in three voices. There are not many trio vocal works in Turkey, thus there isn’t a specific name that we are influenced by. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t forget Muammer Ketencioğlu if we’re talking about Balkan music.”

“Balkan music is a very large concept; it’s everything and nothing,” said Dakovanou, pointing to the abundance of works made under the umbrella of “Balkan music.” “Every country is very rich in their traditional songs. We try to respect these traditions, but at the same time, we’re trying to add something from ourselves because we’re coming from three different countries and we’re three different personalities. It couldn’t be purely traditional music because we’re not only Turkish or only Greek musicians.”

This is how the trio actually defines itself. “We’re not totally traditional, but neo-traditional,” says Dakovanou.

“However, we never thought of what kind of a symbol we could reflect or what people would think about us,” expresses Toruk. “We don’t see ourselves as symbols, but all in all, we are expressing something. For us, there are no boundaries for music, and hence for humanity. We have so much in common!”

“To reflect something, it’s not a goal,” says Dakovanou, in terms of reflecting a certain musical stance. “For us, everything was so natural, so we just did it.”

Maybe this is the reason why the trio has been receiving positive reactions from audiences both in France and in countries they’ve visited on their album tour, including Turkey. “We have had great reactions, especially in France,” says Toruk, “because music like ours is being made in France and there are various vocal groups reinterpreting world music. But I think people understand our intimacy and authenticity, that’s why they like it so much.”

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