PROJECTS Calgija’s mystery album - Music from the Balkans and Anatolia #1½ If you are Dutch and enjoy Balkan, Turkish, Arabic and/or Central Asian music, then you are bound to know the famous ensemble Čalgija. Even if you are not Dutch and don’t particularly like Turkish, Arabic and Central Asian music, you might know them because their music features in a song by Kate Bush (Sensual World) and was covered by Andy Irvine and Davy Spillane. I have played with Čalgija veterans since my early youth, and always enjoyed the stories about its founder and leader Wouter Swets, who’s talent was only matched by his eccentricity. Čalgija released two albums: Music from the Balkans and Anatolia #1 (LP, 1978) and Music from the Balkans and Anatolia #2 (CD, 1991). Especially the first stands out as a monument, I consider it one  of the best records produced in that genre in the Netherlands. The track list of Čalgija’s number 2 has two subsets. As indicated in the liner notes, tracks 3, 4, 8, 12, 13, 15, 16 and 18 were recorded between December 1983 and May 1984 (indicated bold below), and the other tracks in 1990. If you listen closely, you’ll here that there is a difference and mooreover, on the later tracks, Swets uses a synthesizer that he didn’t possess in the early 1980s. I was much intrigued to hear, not too long ago, that the first recordings are actually the results of a stranded album project. Producing the album notes took so long that the project was abandoned, to considerable frustration of all parties involved. My curiosity was arisen when I heard that not all material of the 1980s session was used on Music from the Balkans and Anatolia #2. There was more!   1. Aide mor’ milia 11. Turnalar   2. Güvercin 12. Ispaiče   3. Dali znaeš pomniš li 13. Acem kızı   4. Krivo horo 14. Naz bar   5. Dağlar, dağlar 15. Baş bar   6. Potamia 16. Alexandra   7. Derde derman 17. Suite of Armenian dance tunes   8. Razložko kalajdžijsko horo 18. Beratçe   9. Të kan dasgtë dhe të du 19. Köşküm var 10. To aidhoni 20. Posednica I felt not only intrigued but also challenged, and decided to investigate, which involved persuading a group of elderly gentlement to dig into their memory or archives. The album was originally going to be released by Münich Records  label, which went bankrupt in 2012 to be taken over by V2 records, which, according to two sources had discarded the 1980s master tape they inherited. Later on, however, I found out that Pan Records has kept the master. I also contacted the recording studio, that still has the equipment used at that time. Music from the Balkans and Anatolia #1 had a total playing time of 0:41:27 at an average track length of 0:03:27. The 1980s recordings on #2 have a length of 0:27:40 at an average track lenght of 0:03:28. I expect to discover four unpub- lished track on the recovered masters. Step 1: get to the studio and see what’s left it, and take it from there. ~MJvdM, 7 April 2019 In search of a Laterna (Greek barrel piano) The instrument on the green stamp is a laterna (λατέρνα) a small barrel piano that was once hugely popular in Greece. It could be considered the Greek equivalent of the Dutch street organ that to me, when I first heard one, presented two major advantages: the type of music it produces, and the fact that it is a stringed instrument that doesn’t hurt your ears. Once during a modal composition seminar I committed a mortal sin by secretly writing a piano piece entitled ‘Chasapiko Burlesque’ (obviously without Ross Daly knowing:-). It is cheerful and nostalgic at the same time, it is full of clichés but somehow nice. I never knew what to do with it, but a squeaky midi version + melody recently made me think of a laterna. Two weeks ago I sent the piece to Manolis Kanakakis, with whom I was recording, and who is not only an exceptional kanun player but also an excellent pianist. The next day he got back to me saying he liked it but considered it laterna music rather than piano music. Without knowing we had both been spending night time searching for options to get the piece played on a laterna. This however is not a trivial thing. Access to the instrument set apart: ‘programming’ a street organ requires you to punch a hole per note in paper, and for a laterna you must hammer as many nails in a large wooden cylinder. So what I am thinking of is to create a laterna VST instrument and make a single. First contacts have been established. ~MJvdM 11 February
©2019 M.J. van der Meulen
Music from the Balkansand Anatolia #2  (Calgija)