The artist maintains his/her own homepage: www.mahmoudturkmani.com
New project: YA SHARR MOUT
Ya Sharr Mout (video stream)
Ya Sharr Mout - Live in Beirut (video stream)
Born in 1964 in Halba in Northern Lebanon, Mahmoud Turkmani worked in his home country as a guitar soloist and performed with various bands (among them his own group "Rabija" and the folk band "Willada"). As the civil war made it impossible for him to study music in Lebanon, he went to Moscow where he graduated from State Academy of Arts in 1989. He completed his studies with Oscar Ghiglia (1989/90, Basle Conservatory), Juan Carmona (1991/92, flamenco program, Andalusia) and especially Prof. Stephan Schmidt (1994-1997, Berne Conservatory) who encouraged Turkmani to develop his own musical language out of his multi-cultural background. While studying in Berne (Switzerland), Turkmani also performed in several Swiss cities and in 1993 formed the guitar quartet "Ludus".
After the sudden death of his brother who had lived in France, Turkmani came to discover his ability to express himself as a composer. He says: "I couldn't talk about my pain verbally. But after a year of sorrow, the music helped me and suddenly was bubbling out of me. I began to free myself by playing and writing which was some kind of self-therapy for me and not intended for the public. My friendship with Mansour Rahbany, one of Lebanon's great musicians and poets, inspired me to search for my Lebanese roots and transform them into a global language, thus making them accessible for a wider audience. Besides solo pieces, I wrote many quartets and also a concerto for guitar and thus developed this new language ever further."
Turkmani's debut CD "Nuqta" (1999) presents both the innovative composer and the guitar virtuoso who easily (and boldly) changes between classical guitar tradition and his own novel techniques that are tightly connected with his compositional language. Especially in his quartet pieces ("Point"), he daringly melts polyphonic styles and traces of renaissance music with the melodic basics of Arab folk traditions. In the solo pieces, extraordinary neo-classical textures meet with oriental expression and deeply moving moods. Composer Abdallah El-Masri (who dedicated his own "Piece for Guitar Quartet" to Mahmoud Turkmani) judges: "For all lovers of guitar playing and all passionate fans of modern composition, this CD is one of the most enjoyable recordings."
In the beginning Turkmani used the guitar only (as a solo instrument and with his guitar quartet) but from 1998 also pieces for oud, the Arabic lute, followed. The oud, the "queen of the Arabic instruments", led Turkmani to basic questions of his own musical identity. He has grown up in two divergent musical systems, the oriental and the occidental. His deepened knowledge in both systems made it possible for him to check touchpoints between them without using superficial fusion techniques. How can the Maqamat world of sound with its richness of modi be combined with the western tone system? How can complex Arab rhythms constitute a work of new music without getting stuck in shallow "Arabisms"?
Turkmani's second CD "Fayka" (2002) is a fascinating document of his present way of writing - a unique mixture of phenomenal instrumental technique and advanced compositional structures. It comprises eight works from the years 1999 to 2001: two solo pieces (for guitar respectively oud) as well as six duets. Although of very diverse origins, his duet partners share highest artistic quality and a wide musical openness. Turkmani wrote three of the duets for himself and Persian percussion player Keyvan Chemirani. A son of master drummer Djamchid Chemirani, Keyvan plays the tub-formed tombak (in Arab: zarb) and the big frame drum dāf. In the other duet tracks Turkmani combines his instruments with the double bass. For these tunes, he says, he was looking for a musician who is not only a virtuoso master of his instrument but also adds his own personality and creativity to the music. He found his ideal partner in Barry Guy, doubtlessly one of the most innovative European bassists and composers who is an active force in new chamber and orchestra music as well as improvised music and jazz and the founder of the phenomenal London Jazz Composers Orchestra. Radiating dazzling beauty and intensity, Turkmani's music sometimes rises to heavy rhythmic drive and violent outbursts in which his guitar or oud serves as a percussion instrument.