Jan 6, 2012

Mercan Dede: Turkish Sufism in World Music with Electronic and Trance


mercan-dede-eastern-sufi-music-with-electronic-musicMercan Dede, also known as DJ Arkin Allen is musician who is a DJ, composer, Nay and Bendir performer. He is highly appreciated musician that he connects east and west, he combines new and old. If you have never heard Mercan Dede, read this article carefully, and get to know how eastern music fascinates people with the western elements. Mercan Dede is a Turkish world music performer that he performs Sufism oriented Turkish music with electronic music elements. It is not a kind of electronic music that contains some DJ absurdity for dance. His music is polyphonic, instrumental based, and trance rhythm oriented music influenced by Sufism. Although Sufism is a specific and local concept, his music carries the concept to global stage of world music. You could listen to his songs’ previews from his official website. You could find link at the end of the article.

Sufism could be described as mystical dimension of Islam and a methodology to reach God. Mercan Dede uses Sufism’s visual and acoustic elements in his music influenced by one of the most famous representative of Sufism Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi who lived in Turkey in 13th century. You could find a quote from Mevlana end of the article to understand his philosophy better. Nay and bendir is base of Turkish Sufism music. Sufi music is also supported by some stringed traditional instruments. One of the most important items of Sufism in Turkey is Sufi Dance called as Sama Dance. It could be called as Dervish Whirling as well. Sufi’s are called as Dervish in Turkey, Anatolia. You could check out more information about Sufism and Dervish Whirling Dance from Google, if you are interested in mysticism.

Some readers could say that it is a specific concept. Although it’s specific and esoteric, Mercan Dede put this concept in world music to share the philosophy. He started to his musical journey by making his own nay from plastic water pipe because of his financial situation. He moved to Canada in 1988, and he involved in many musical projects in Canada with some artists and performers like Azam Ali, Peter Murphy, Natacha Atlas and many famous Turkish and Canadian performers. He also joined many of festivals like Montreal Jazz Festival and performs his music and shows Dervish Whirling Dance. He was nominated BBC Radio 3 awards for world music in two categories. The album stayed at number one for two months in Europe world music charts. The album 800 has been chosen as the best world music album of 2008 by Womex.


Mercan Dede has many albums in different music projects. He had albums in Techno, Electronic Music, and Sufi music styles with Mercan Dede and DJ Arkin Allen identities. We will review his albums in Mercan Dede identity. He found his own group Mercan Dede Ensemble in 1997. It is a big musical band contains 7-16 musicians and 5-40 whirling Sufi dancers. Sometimes guest performers also involved in Mercan Dede Ensemble. They had countless music and whirling dance shows in many famous festivals and organizations.

Discography of Mercan Dede and some explanations about albums given below;

  • mercan-dede-world-music-artistSufi Dreams (1998) is one of my favorite albums that he combined old and new with east and west elements. It is extremely recommended album. It could be good for beginning. There is a nice Hederlezi Balkan traditional song cover in Sufi way.
  • Journeys of a Dervish (1999)
  • Seyahatname (2001)
  • Nar (2002) is really good album that you will be fascinated.
  • Su (2003) is an awarded album. It is highly suggested.
  • Sufi Traveler (2004)
  • Nefes (2007)
  • 800 (2007) is the best world music album in 2008. 2007 was notified as World Mevlana Year by UNESCO. This album dedicated to Mevlana and the best album of Mercan Dede. It is extremely suggested album that the song named in Bilinmezin Elcileri makes you go into trance.

Mercan Dede is an appreciated world music performer. He gives east mysticism and melodies in the form of contemporary music elements. If you like world music, don’t lose this musical treasure. You could find his official website to listen to his songs’ previews, and get to know more about him.


Finally, Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi says that

mercan-dede-800-albumCome, come, whoever you are,
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving,
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Even if you have broken your vows a thousand times
It doesn’t matter
Come, come yet again, come

If you are interested in Jazz, please find my article about Turkish Jazz band Hijazz performs Sufi music and Turkish Classical Music with Jazz elements. Click here to read.

Bye for now!



Discovery Journeys India said...

I am speechless.Fantastic info about Sufi music festival.


Kumbh Mela Dates 2013 | Indian Sufi Music

Anonymous said...

Mercan Dede is incredible! Belive me, you have never heard such a mesmerizing music!

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