The 96-year-old Turkish composer İlhan Usmanbaş belongs to the second generation of prominent Turkish modern composers. Usmanbaş has made over 120 compositions to date, but despite his prolific and fearless work he remains surprisingly unknown to the general public in Turkey.
His work “Devr-i kebîr” (Great Rotation) for Percussion Sextet from 1974 alludes to one of the rhythmic patterns found in classical Ottoman music. The composition clearly demonstrates Usmanbaş’s contemporary musical approach through the transformation of the strict rhythmic pattern by the use of different tempi and indeterminacy artifices.
Usmanbaş has continuously engaged in a Universalist style of music throughout his career, while also being employed as a state composer inscribed in a National Republican program. Although Usmanbaş’s music does not undertake to be understood as a manifesto or as an act of resistance, the artist Mike Bode presents ”Devr-i Kebir” here, as a metonymic assertion of Turkey’s unfolding history.
With thanks to Mehmet Nemutlu.
Original recording by the Siegfried Fink Percussion Ensemble.