In one of my many wanders around Spotify, I came across Ahmet Faik Şener, who is a Turkish harmonica player also known as Balarısı Ahmet—which literally translates to Ahmet the Honeybee. The story of this name dates back to his early years in music while he was just a student in law school. Ahmet and his friends created an ensemble called the Honeybees and the name stayed with him after that. He is a musician that almost lived through a century (1925-2022) that was dedicated only to his passion: music. What is so unique about Balarısı Ahmet is the fact that he introduced a new genre to the Turkish entertainment and music scene: musical fantasy.
After searching about him more, it came as a surprise to me that this “gentle” musician was in fact a comedian on the stage as well. He introduced a new form of entertainment by combining music and comedy on stage with the duos he had over the years with Engin Bozok and Ahmet Özdemir. This is the genre mentioned above, musical fantasy: the genre of combining music and comedy elements on stage in gazinos.
The comedy elements he added to music was from politics, celebrities, daily life etc.
With Ahmet Faik Şener’s own words, he is “the person that introduced a comedy duo accompanied by music” to Turkey. Balarıları were the first ones to use the style of “Tornistan” which is essentially using a well-known melody and creating lyrics for that melody to perform it.
They sometimes used known jokes on stage and sometimes completely made-up dialogues.
After Balarıları paved the way to this new genre, there came a lot more musical comedy duos like Ateşböcekleri, Şen Bahriyeliler, Antenler, Uğur Böcekleri, Eksik Etekler, Alabanda 2…
Surprisingly, Balarısı Ahmet was never professionally educated in the field of music except for the solfege and harmony lessons he had from Raşit El Abed which only lasted for a year. It is safe to say that the love and passion he had for music were his tutors.
Of course like everything good in life, his comedy duo days came to an end. But he did not stop his musical career. Instead, he became the harmonica virtuoso that we know him as today. His music ranged from classical music to Turkish folk music—all with the harmonica he carried around with him everywhere.
The genre of musical fantasy disappeared, harmonica is almost completely faded and Balarısı Ahmet himself passed away a couple of years after he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the 25th Jazz Festival of IKSV. From a law student to a Honeybee on stage that is fed from his love to harmonica, Ahmet Faik Şener is one of the many musicians that deserve more than they have received.