Ab-I means ‘water.’ Mercan Dede shares insights behind the meanings of the songs and compositions on his album Su (Escondida Records).
1. Ab-I Ru
This means the surface of the water. It has a reflective quality like a mirror. You see yourself. The first track of the album is about forgetting about anything else. Just be with yourself; like a trance state. Look at the water to see what is it there.
2. Ab-I La’l
This means red water, which could refer to love or wine. Wine, in Sufism, relates to being in an ecstatic state with Ggod. It is a very spiritual term, like being drunk with Ggod. But in a physical sense this refers to blood; something inside your heart.
3. Ab-I Zen
This means very calm water. Far out in a sea, you look at the water and feel like it is not moving at all. Calmness is one of the most important qualities of water. This can also refer to someone who says kind words. This invokes how soft-spoken people make you feel calm.
4. Ab-I Tarab
This refers to an ecstatic state where you still keep your calmness. Like when you see Buddhist monks meditating. They are very ecstatic, but very calm;, not hyper or dancing. But it also means sunset. This recording was made during sunset, a very magical time.
Sunsets make you excited but you keep your calmness. The excitement is in your heart.
5. Ab-I Beka
This simply means, never-ending water. It always flows from one place to another. Infinity. This is another important quality of water.
Water always changes from gas, snow, liquid, or ice. It just changes from one shape to another. It never dies actually,; it lives forever.
Symbolically, this represents the soul. In Sufism, a soul changes from one person to another, but never dies.
6. Ab-I Hayat
This phrase comes from a Sufi text. It refers to a magical remedy; when you drink it you never die. But in reality this is not a physical thing; it symbolizes love. If you fall in love, the honest true sense of love, you never die. Your love will still be alive if you die.
7. Ab-I Cesm
Cesm means tears. This piece makes references to the Iraqi city of Karbala, the place where the Prophet Mohamed was killed. This was recorded at a time when there was a lot of violence between the US military and “Iraqi insurgents.” This song—dedicated to the people who died in Iraq—recognizes this city’s spiritual legacy and history of war.
8. Ab-I Nar
This can mean red ocean or red water. The phrase refers to how when the sun sets over the ocean, you see the whole ocean burning, like a fire. This song cross-references the Mercan Dede’s previous album Nar, using samples from that recording. Similarly to Indian music, where you perform certain ragas at certain times of the day, Turkish music we has similar maqams. This maqam is meant to be performed during sunsets.
9. Ab-I Beste
Beste refers to a composition or connectedness. This song alludes to the seeming disconnection of rivers, seas, and oceans, yet somehow they are connected. It also refers to the connections of every human being. We all need water; we are all made from water. Water connects us.
10. Ab-I Nafi
A complex emotion hard to explain in English.This means water of remedy. This healing quality is reflected in the rapping section of this song, which talks about personal and spiritual growth and progress.
11. Ab-I Hazan
Hazan is the season Fall. It also means sadness, but not in a negative way. Sad but content for that moment. This piece is about transformation; something new happening.
12. Ab-I VerdThis song title translates as rose water. This is the most religious Sufi and mystical oriented piece onf the album. The rose is the symbol of the Prophet Mohammed in Sufi literature, and this piece is dedicated to one of the greatest Turkish Sufi singers, Kani Karaca, who died last year. It talks about reaching into the ocean, about dying and transformation of the body. It is about reaching a point where you are no longer struggling. You are part of the water.
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