A well documented and deep glance at some pivotal aspects of Turkish music is what the DEM TRIO proposes in The Fountain. Formed by the multi instrumentalists Okan Murat Öztürk, Murat Salim Tokaç and Cenk Güray, the trio has conducted some important researches in Anatolia and at the same time has studied and reworked pieces composed by the real maestros of the classical tradition as for example Cemil Bey (1871-1916).
The structure of every piece is subject to some peculiar compositional rules, which as a whole they are known as makan and they provide the basis to create themes and melodies. The creative part of the process are the improvisations (taksim), which have a special importance and determine the value of the executed piece. Generally, they provide a sort of prelude to a suite or they “stop” it once in a while. As you will notice listening closely to The Fountain, what the DEM TRIO does here is what, in occidental terms, we call “chamber music”, with each of the soloists proposing in turn an elaboration of the melody and of the rhythms, and then proceeding at will with their own improvisations.
Also the use of particular instruments characterizes the music presented by the DEM TRIO. Specifically, we must notice how both the tanbur ( the symbolic instrument of the art music once played at court and at nobles' palaces) and the tanbura (folk music instrument) are used at the same time, with the intent to find a common origin for the two souls of Turkish music. They are both string instruments, close to the family of the lutes, but which must not be confused with the Arab oud, even if they all come from a common Middle-Eastern stock. Other string instruments employed here are the baglama, the lavta and the cümbüs (which has a soundbox covered with skin), while among the reeds we find the ney, whose evocative tone recalls that of the Armenian duduk.
Thanks to the discoveries to which we are introduced by the DEM TRIO, we can get in touch with the ancient Ottoman culture, presented to us in a contemporary interpretation, strongly underlying the relationship betweeen the Turkish musical patrimony and that of the neighbouring regions (Greece, the Balkans, the Middle-East area).