The use of this melody is both an example for the overcoming of ethnic barriers and the manifestation of nationalism (...) (Martha Hammerer)
The story of a song
It is a secret world hit with many names, a tune that can be traced all over South Eastern Europe and in some parts of the Mediterranean area, the Middle East, Caucasus, Central Asia, the Far East and North America. Nobody can prove exactly where it came from or when and by whom it was originally written. However, many people claim they know the definite truth. It has been said that the origins of the melody are either Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Greek, Iranian, Scottish, Sephardic (Ladino), Serbian or Turkish or that the song was brought by the Crusaders.
The first traceable recording is from the year 1900, performed in Turkish language by Avedis, a twelve year old Armenian boy. The record was made on wax cylinders by ethnologist, archaeologist and physician Felix von Luschan and his wife Emma in Zencirli, a village in the Turkish district Aintâb (today Gaziantep, South Eastern Turkey) of the Ottoman administrative division vilâyet and sancak Haleb (today Aleppo, Northern Syria) (cf. Klebe 2004, 87pp.).
The website http://sevdalinke.com (editor: Semir Vranić) suggests (based on findings of Šefćet Plana from 1979) that the tune is actually an adoption of a Scottish melody which might have been brought to Constantinople/Istanbul by a Scottish military band: “During the Crimean war (1853-1856) between Turkey (sic) and Russia, Turkey received aid from England, France and Sardinia so, among its other visitors, Istanbul’s military barracks also hosted a company of Scottish soldiers. The latter had unusual uniforms which, along with their military march which is played with pipes, drew the citizens to them. This march melody soon became the melody of a Turkish folk song (…)”. Because of the lack of original sources these references can hardly be investigated. (cf. Klebe 2004, 94)
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