Content Creation, Digital Docu-Series

Digital content is in high demand right now. With many brands looking to create consistent video content, standing out and producing enriching videos worth watching means more than ever.

We created a digital docu-series for İş Sanat, the art foundation of the largest and first truly national bank of the Turkish Republic, exploring the instruments behind the sounds of Turkey’s rich and historic music culture.

From researching and selecting the instruments to be featured, to tracking down their luthiers and visiting each location to film on-site, I Mean It Creative took on the entire production of the series from start to finish.

While putting everything together in post-production to create the docu-series, we also produced a title sequence-like intro to be used as the opening of each video. This opening sequence can also be utilized as a teaser on social media channels or as a promotional trailer in any needed capacity.

Celebrating a rich cultural heritage, the docu-series offers a behind-the-scenes look at the birth of special instruments like the Ud, and the craftsmen that bring them to life with an astounding amount of care and love. Sometimes taking months to build a single instrument, these luthiers demonstrate what it truly means for one to be dedicated to his or her craft.

“I forget about all the stress and struggle it takes to make a single instrument, as soon as I hear my customer play its first note”, says Burhan Çeşni, who has been making The ‘Ud’ for more than 35 years, still with the same amount of attention and excitement.

At the axis of many cultures, Turkey has a cultural variety so rich on its own that it comes as no surprise how deeply rooted in heritage and lineage the craftsmanship of these instruments are.

‘The kabak kemane (gourd violin) is my other half’ says Irfan Alkur, who has been making the instrument since he was 12, ‘I feel it understands me’.

During our interviews, we listened to the luthiers about their personal connections to the instruments and interesting stories about how they are made. We discovered not only the instruments’ rich histories but also how their sounds have influenced contemporary music—Did you know that David Gilmour is a big fan of the Cümbüş?

Among the classic Turkish instruments is the Tanbur, a special kind of ‘saz’ with many different forms and unique characteristics like a cover on its back that opens and closes, enhancing the instrument’s internal resonance.

Luthier Hüseyin Fırat notes that making this particular instrument requires a lot of time and meticulous craftsmanship, as he shares his technique with us from the Tanbur’s very first mould to its last paint, and finally, the moment of handing the instrument over to its awaiting musician. ‘They are excited, but I am more excited’ he says, ‘because I hear its sound and tone for the first time, and I can leave my workshop at peace and head home’.

The story of the ‘Yaren’ is told by Evren Temel, daughter of Turkish folk music icon Özay Gönlüm. Considered among the masters of Turkish Folk Music, Gönlüm was the original creator of this authentic instrument.

Experimenting with different tones and styles, Gönlüm wanted to create something that would defy cultural limits and surpass Turkish borders. After lengthy research and experimentation, he developed a design by combining two types of baglamas (The ‘Cura Bağlama’ and ‘Divan Sazı’) and the Tanbur. Merging these three different instruments, each with their own distinct tones, sizes and styles, Gönlüm created a unique form carved from a single tree, and gave life to a brand new instrument that would later be dubbed ‘The Yaren’.

When he debuted this new instrument on a live TV Show, Gönlüm had no response to the host who asked for the name of the instrument. So, they posed this question to the audience and Gönlüm asked for name suggestions from the public. After receiving thousands of submissions and different names from every corner of the country, the name ‘Yaren’ was decided upon, which means friend or beloved companion.

A truly beloved cultural figure, Gönlüm dedicated his whole life to expanding the resonance of Turkish Folk Music across the world, and invited the public to take part in this journey with him.

‘I think that’s why people of all walks of life, of all ages in our country love my dad so much’ says Evren Temel, ‘he is very much one of them’.

Luthier Rıfat Varol, who has been making neys for 16 years, emphasizes how the instrument is associated with world-renowned Sufie poet, Rumi or ‘Mevlana’. Known as the first neyzen, Rumi opens his ‘Masnavi’ with ‘bişnev ez ney’, meaning ‘listen to the ney’.

Starting with selecting the perfect cane or straw, which generally means finding one or two among thousands, Varol explains how the meticulous process of making a ney also requires a drying phase that takes about a year, after which its green color turns to yellow.

The sound of the kemenche is closest to the sound of the human voice’ says Mehmet Yalgın, who speaks of the kemenche as his close friend of 30 years.