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Čalgija | Üçayak

In 1981, Dutch musician and ethnomusicologist Wouter Swets (1930–2016) took his ensemble Čalgija to the studio to record their second album. The re­cordings were completed, but the liner notes took much more time than anticipated (probably because Swets was working on his lecture series and book on Ottoman art music at the same time). Meanwhile, Čalgija’s line-up changed to the extent that the material and performance were no longer considered representative. The project was shelved and eventually forgotten, and Swets went back to the studio in 1983 for a second attempt. While the 1981 master tapes were lost, a cassette copy turned up in the estate of Wouter Swets in 2020. Out of twelve tracks, three were redone and released on other albums. The remaining nine have been supplemented with eight live tracks from 1978.

> Straight to the liner notes >
(info, music and downloads below)   

Album information

Tracks / total playing time 58:20

  1. Nji ditë diele
  2. Trakijsko pajduško
  3. Üçayak
  4. Aman doktor
  5. Esir-i zülfünüm ey yüzü mâhım
  6. Žeravnenska răčenica
  7. Ti kles, kaimeni Maria
  8. Në Shkodër
  9. Selim Bey
  10. Sardisale lešočkiot manastir – Live
  11. Kopanica – Live
  12. Pia skyla mana – Live
  13. Kadıoğlu zeybeği – Live
  14. Kars’ın önü – Live
  15. Răčenica – Live
  16. Në Shkodër – Live
  17. Dy të bukurat – Live

30-sec. track samples on Soundcloud.


Folk music from the Balkans (Albania, North Macedonia, Greece, Bulgaria) and Anatolia; one Ottoman classical composition by Şevki Bey (1860–1891).

Liner notes

Read all about the rediscovery of these recordings, Čalgija in the 1980s, and the individual tracks.


Wouter Swets (musical director) – accordion, kanun
Tjarko ten Have – gajda, bağlama saz, ney, def, tapan
Jan Hofmeijer – clarinet, santur, vocals

Thijs de MelkerMacedonian tambura, laouto, divan saz, oud
Crispijn Oomesviolin, gădulka, cura saz
Roelof Rosendal – darabuka, oud, tapan, def, gajda
Roel Sluis – vocals, kaval, sopranino recorder, davul

All repertoire is traditional, and has been arran­g­ed by Wouter Swets. Tracks 1–9 were recorded, mixed and master­ed in 1981 by Wil Hesen of Farmsound Studio (Heel­sum, Netherlands), who also digitised the material in 2021. Tracks 10-16 were recorded live in 1978 at Theater aan de Haven (The Ha­gue, Nether­lands) on a Teac 34-2 tape re­cor­der by Frenk van Mee­teren and Jørn Plas for Pan Records, and digiti­sed in 2019 by Wil Hesen. Track 17 was recorded in the same year and same venue, and digitised in 2021 by Jan van Rhenen (Leiden, Netherlands). The material was denoised and mast­ered by Vangelis Apostolou at Studio Vasmaris (Herak­lion, Greece) in 2019 (10–16) and 2021 (1–9, 17).

Production, artwork and liner notesMichiel van der Meulen

Cengiz Arslanpay, Martijn Busink, Dominy Clements, Ross Daly, Bernard Kleikamp, Nikos Kokolakis, Thijs de Melker, Crispijn Oomes, Vassilis Philippou, Joost Rekveld, Magnus Robb, Yaşar Saka, Roel Sluis, Albana Shala, Hugo Strötbaum and Martine van der Meulen are thanked for input and advice.

TouMilou #5 / EAN 8714835141112
Tracks 10–17 licensed from Pan Records ℗ 1978, 2021
© 2021 TouMilou Music

Get the album

  • Üçayak is streamed on all major platforms
  • Use the contact form below to order a CD directly from TouMilou: € 10.00
  • A CD can be purchased online from the distributor Xango Music

Čalgija CD sale revenues are transferred to the estate of Wouter Swets and used to cover the expenses of a continued effort to safeguard his musical legacy. TouMilou Music contributes to this effort on a pro bono basis.


Üçayak album art (1000 x 1000 px jpg)

Album art / 1000 x 1000 px jpg

About the album artwork
This album is named after its third track. The Turkish word üçayak means tripod or, especially in the context of dance, three-step. It is also the name of the ruins of a Byzantine church in the Kırşehir province of Central Anatolia, which is featured in the album artwork. The full name, Üçayak Kilisesi (Three-legged Church), refers to the state of the ruins, of which the main remaining wall, which features two arched openings, resembles three legs. The church was reportedly built in the 10th or 11th century, in an isolated location with no nearby resources of water or signs of habitation. The album artwork features modifications of a photo by Hajo-Muc (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Other releases by Čalgija

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