Sense of humor
Istanbul people prize a sense of humor and Aka was well-known for his. One day in the radio recording studio for the weekly "Neylerle Saz Eserleri" (Instrumental works played by ney-s) program, I noticed that the drummer, poor fellow, was playing the usul backwards, reversing the downbeat with the offbeat. At the end of the take, Aka shouted "Eş'ol' eşek!" ("Donkey, son of a donkey," a common curse in Turkish) at the drummer. Aka and the drummer were longtime friends, so the crude insult was obviously meant quasi-humorously.
Early on in our relationship, Aka gave me a Turkish nickname, "Uzunhasan," a name known to every schoolchild as a tall, thin fifteenth century king of the Ak Koyunlu (White Sheep) Turkmen defeated by the Ottoman Turks in the 15th century. To this day, when I introduce myself to ney players, ney and ney mouthpiece craftsmen, and other musicians, they look puzzled at first at the name "Karl Signell," but they soon say with a smile, "Tamam. Siz Neyzen Uzunhasansιnιz" ("I see. You're Uzunhasan, the ney player").
last revised 21 September 2008