© 2019 by Volkan Efe

BIOGRAPHY

Originally from central Turkey, Volkan started playing oud as a teenager under his father's guidance, performing throughout high school and college. Volkan received his B.Sc degree in Electrical Engineering from Bilkent University, Turkey and a Masters degree in Engineering from University of Maryland, College Park. Since moving to the US in 2002, he has performed with various Turkish music ensembles in Washington DC, Chicago and Boston. Volkan has been studying and performing classical, folk and ceremonial forms of Ottoman-Turkish music as well as the healing aspects of the makam system of Ottoman-Turkish music. Besides oud, Volkan plays ney, tanbur and kemençe and performs regularly in and around Boston. 

I was born and raised in Kayseri, a midsize town in central Turkey, in a very musical family atmosphere. My journey in music started in this atmosphere with an old oud (plucked lute) played beautifully by my father during my childhood years. Sounds from the oud combined with my father’s voice, singing traditional Turkish classical pieces, shaped my musical brain at early ages. The rest of my brain developed in a different way, with lots of exposure to math and science and eventually made me into an electrical engineer.

 

As a fresh graduate from Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey Electrical Engineering department, I moved to Washington, D.C. in 2002 to design and develop antennas for wireless communication systems.

I knew that music and electromagnetics could be the only combination that would satisfy my interests. These two phenomena are apparently intertwined in a sense that they are both utilized to convey a message, to connect two or more people and create a medium where an exchange of feelings takes place. They both use wave frequencies such that only a capable transmitter and receiver pair can encrypt. In the context of music, a properly tuned instrument or an alluring human voice does the work whereas in electromagnetics it is the antennas. I was lucky to get myself involved with both.

After I moved to Boston in 2004, I had my first encounter with the sociological and cultural aspects of music. My road crossed with the Cambridge Musiki Cemiyeti, a music study group directed by Feridun Özgören, devoted to learning and preserving the traditions of Turkish music. A large portion of our rehearsals and studies was in sohbet (conversation) form around the interpretation of music by masters of the traditional Turkish music instruments. Being a part of this enriching group, I decided not to limit myself to one instrument and I started to look for different sounds that would resonate with me. I got my first ney (reed flute) to begin with and practiced long hours by myself looking for that magical sound. Then I explored the deep and dignified sound of the tanbur (long necked fretted string instrument) and finally challenged myself with the delicacy of the kemençe (pear shaped bowed instrument).

 

The next stop in my journey was a Boston based Turkish music study group called Orkestra Marhaba, directed by Fred Stubbs. Marhaba provided a wonderful environment for me and for other members to express ourselves in a musical language through classical pieces of Turkish music and lots of improvisations (taksim).

 

My journey in music continues with the addition of new projects with the goal of bringing community in and around Boston together around an unfamiliar genre of music. I have also started to make my own recordings in my home based studio in Belmont, MA where I live with my wife Ayşe and two boys, Selim and Emre.