Ney making

click for large imageNo respectable ney player in those days would buy a ney from a music store. A student would receive a ney from a teacher, and a professional would make his own. Most of my ney-s were given to me by Aka. He was also an excellent maker of tanbur and kanun (long-necked fretted lute and zither) plectra from tortoise shell, and a graphic artist—an example of his art is seen left [click for larger image]—among many talents. He told me that he traveled once a year to the Hatay region in the south of Turkey to harvest reeds. Bringing back a large bundle of reeds (demonstrating with both arms making a circle), he cured them for many months before selecting and making ney-s. The Kız ney (~710 mm) and the Mansur ney (~780 cm) that he gave me were quite respectable but probably not good enough for his professional use.

One day at Istanbul Radio, I brought in a fine historical Şah ney (~860 cm) with silver bindings (right) given to me by a Turkish friend. Although Aka was tallish, he was not one of the rare ney players with hands large enough to reach all the finger-holes and thumb-hole of the long Shah ney. To try it out, he asked me to reach over and close the thumb-hole while he played, giving a quick nod of the head when he wanted the thumb-hole opened.

Because of my large hands and his delight in low notes, he later went one step further, crafting the very largest size for me, the Davud ney (~910 cm), carving the name "Aka" near the bottom, and the year, "1972." I had never seen a Davud and only knew it from books. Alas, the quality was not quite as good as the others, but the Davud was a keepsake for our time together.

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last revised 21 September 2008