Who Will Hear Sơn Mỹ's Song?


The next generation, who used maqam music through the processing of Anatolian melodic traditions in order to create a national language in polyphonic music writing in the first period of the Republic, on the contrary, turned to avant-garde techniques and styles of 20th century music. The works designed by second generation composers such as Ertuğrul Oğuz Fırat, Ferit Tüzün, İlhan Mimaroğlu, Bülent Arel by processing contemporary texts and often by feeding from other fields of art; 20th Century with an interest in atonality, serialism, elements of jazz and improvisation, the impressionist and primitive styles of composers such as Claude Debussy and Igor Stravinski, minimalism, electronic music, deconstruction by Erik Satie and John Cage, collage, abstract expression and direct political discourse. has characteristics parallel to the current reality of his music.

İlhan is a composer who still remains inconsistent among the second generation Turkish composers in terms of his versatile artist identity, style and political attitude, and devoted his life to composing, producing, publishing, distributing and performing the most important works in the fields of electronic and avant-garde music, especially between the years 1960-80. Mimaroglu. He is also one of the most ardent immigrants of the second generation of radical avant-garde art based in New York, which was intertwined with anti-system political movements/protests in the first quarter of the 20th century.

In 1971, when Mimaroğlu started working as a producer for Atlatic Records, which produced the most important popular artistic music works of the period in America, he founded his own record label, Finnadar Records, within Atlantic, in order to “bring justice to music”. Mimaroğlu, whose work in electronic music became increasingly politicized and turned into a cinematographic-auditory protest within the radical avant-garde movement, was greatly influenced by minimalist music and jazz derivatives with similar contradictions. While recording his own albums, as a producer at Atlantic and as a producer who is fully involved in the production in Finnadar, avant-garde music such as Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, Freddie Hubbard, John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Edgar Varese, Henry Cowell, Frederic Rzewski He recorded and published the works of giants.

In addition, with the Finnadar label, which existed until 1989, nine albums of İdil Biret's recordings, in which he interpreted the works of composers who were difficult to both perform and listen to, such as Alban Berg, Sergey Prokofiev, Hector Berlioz, Alexander N. Skriyabin, were released. One of these albums had a special place: 20's New Line Piano, which is very special both for İdil Biret's repertoire, for Mimaroğlu's avant-garde music/expression, and for 1978th century political-avant-garde music production.

New Line Piano: 1. İlhan Mimaroglu – Session 2. Niccolo Castiglioni – Cangianti 3. André Boucourechliev – Archipel IV 4. Leo Brouwer – Sonata “Pian E Forte”.

In Session, the text written by Mimaroğlu, which includes the questions of Karl Marx, is processed.

Collaborating with Freddie Hubbard, one of the most important trumpet players of modern jazz in terms of timbre, harmonic approach and technique, in post-bop in the year Finnadar was founded; Sing Me a Song of Songmy, the most important anti-war avant-garde protest music of the 20th century, was recorded, depicting a nightmare of terrifying truth, woven with anger, chaos and sadness.

The painting of Massacre in Korea, painted by Pablo Picasso to protest the killing machine soldiers in the US Korean War, Sing Me a Song of Songmy, used as the cover of the album; It has turned into a protest of this hell and making the facts visible in the Vietnam War, which America brutally attacked.

Songmy is one of the villages where mass murder of South Vietnamese civilians took place.

During the 1968 Vietnam War, the Mỹ Lai massacre, in which 347 to 504 men, women, children and infant civilians were sacrificed, their bodies were mutilated, burned, and some of the women were gang raped, is one of the greatest atrocities ever seen in human history. Mimaroğlu, who wanted to portray the reality in his music by protesting the American policy that tries to cover up this causeless racist brutality with his manipulative warmongering, transferred all his possibilities to Sing Me a Song of Songmy the year he founded Finnadar.

For one of the most important examples of radical avant-garde music of the second half of the 20th century, for a trans-genre production in which different genres combine and turn into a musical fusion bomb; It is surprising that there was no experimentation to evoke Songmy in their previous music, so Mimaroğlu wanted to work with Freddie Hubbard with tremendous foresight. In addition to Hubbard and his quintet; strings, organ, electronic music of Mimaroğlu, choir, poems of Fazıl Hüsnü Dağlarca are fictionalized together with other texts.

As a concept album, the piece tells the story of the massacre from beginning to end. The opening piece is the inner voices of young soldiers who set out on a mission to brutally slaughter defenseless and innocent Vietnamese. Afterwards, in each episode, the brutality, chaos, ruthlessness, indescribability of the massacre, the extinction of hope/humanity, the collapse of all beliefs/concepts and the anger and curse felt by a person who hears Sơn Mỹ against all these are animated in a cinematographic way with the integrity of the music and text. Towards the end of the narration, And yet There Could Be Love reminds us of Nazım Hikmet's poem The Girl Child. A female voice, similar to the voice of a little girl whose ashes were blown up in Hiroshima. Her body is castrated, raped, dismembered, she asks; “Is there a possibility for love?” The next is darkness, brutality, death. Rather than turning to a utopian hope, Mimaroğlu ends the work with Hubbard's solo, with a question mark that extends into the silence of the masses, who have fallen into the darkness of reality and are spectating the brutality of the war. Although this preference of Mimaroğlu is an individual view, it carries the spirit of its time; shouting the cruelty of the soldiers who chose to be the subject of brutality at one end of the world against all the lies that are being marketed!

A utopian hopeful ending can cast a shadow over reality.

English translation readings of poems from Fazıl Hüsnü Dağlarca's books Our Vietnam War and Let's Go were used in the album. The cry of African-Americans is intertwined with the narrative as Hubbard reads the poem Black Skins. Songmy's music; From jazz/post-bop to musique concrete with Hubbard quintet, Mimaroğlu's text processing, use of chorus, sound effects, electronic and non-musical sounds, collages, Stravinsky-like atonal primitive expressionist arrangements to Hubbard's chaotic free improvisations. The example of fusion is an auditory cinematograph, a radical avant-garde protest that recreates the massacre in different dimensions.

Today, the main problem of experimental art, which is mostly limited to galleries, and contemporary music that cannot be experimental and protest, is that it comes out of an artificial pretending that has turned its back on reality. As long as brutality, dominations, wars and weapons continue to exist, the need for radical avant-garde productions will continue to be inevitable. And to explain this inevitable need in terms of the existence problematic of art; There's no better example than Songmy.

Sing Me a Song of Songmy; It is the monumental cry of peoples whose identities and historical existence have been castrated together with their defenseless bodies, reaching into eternity.

Sing Me a Song of Songmy; They are the voices of shame directed at ordinary people who continue their daily lives by unquestioningly accepting the "heroic story" of the subjects/structures that inherited from the powers that perpetrated the massacres and ensured the operability of the post-real age.

Have you heard the song of Sơn Mỹs? “There is blood underneath all the words!”**

Anyone hear?

* Acousmatic/avant-garde/experimental composing technique in which acoustic sounds and electronic sounds are processed together, and montage and sound sources are deliberately manipulated independently of each other.

** A poem by Cemal Süreya, dated 1973.


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