SACRED JOURNEY TO SUFI MUSIC
A few weeks ago, we have written about Nefes Helsinki music band.
One of the Nefes Helsinki band´s member is Robert John Miller from New Zeeland. He has very very interesting journey from New Zeeland to Konya (Turkey) and from there to Finland. Here is his journey in a nutshell.
I first heard Sufi music from Turkey in a meditation/movement class in New Zealand in the mid-1980s.
After the class he asked the teacher where the music came from, and filed Turkey in the back of his mind as a country he must visit. Some years later, in the beginning of the 90s, I was living from street music, and used to spend the winter in interesting countries, staying in the cheapest possible hostels and hotels, or in my tent. One winter was spent in Turkey, during which I travelled to Konya for the annual Mevlevi Ceremony. At the ceremony, I got talking to a man called Hussein, who turned out to be a member of the local Dervish community, a somewhat underground collection of mostly middle-class highly devoted Muslims, with their practice of Sufism being an extension of that faith.
It was very pious and proper,
but I was, true to form, staying at the cheapest hotel, which was anything but pious and proper… I sat with this group several times, doing Zikr, although there was some concern expressed by one or two of the local Sufis that I was not a Muslim, and in fact did not adhere to any faith-based religion (this didnt seem to worry the teacher, but the context was very conservative), although I practiced Buddhist-influenced meditation regularly, which was probably also disturbing to a few of the locals.
Despite this, the time in Konya was very beneficial and experientially rich.
My original contact Hussein was also a salesman, which was probably one reason I was approached in the first place, dealing with old carpets, but mostly talking with fellow Sufis about matters of the spirit in his small room at the back of a larger more commercial carpet shop. I, being nomadic, was not interested in carpets, but noticed some rather touristy ney flutes one day in Husseins shop. I bought one of them, and started teaching myself how to play, a learning process that continues to this day.
A year or two later,
I was playing on my favorite bridge in Salo, Finland, when two Turks, employees of Nokia, stopped by and started talking. I mentioned my love of Sufi music and their country, and they mentioned that they knew of a Turkish band, Nefes, in Helsinki. I did nothing about this, realizing that my Ney technique was nowhere good enough to play in a band, but one day, playing (clarinet) on Aleksanterinkatu in Helsinki, his two friends from Salo walked by with another Turkish woman, Yonca from Nefes.
Yonca no doubt noticed that I played the clarinet, which is a useful instrument in Turkish folk and Romani music. She invited me to meet Nefes, and I ended up playing in their next gig in Atabar restaurant. The rest, as they say, is history (in the making!).