Hasan Saltık, the founder and owner of Kalan Music, has passed away due to a heart attack on the evening of the 2nd of June 2021. Saltık left an unfillable hole in our hearts as one of the most important representatives of Turkish music and culture. As the Turquazz family, we recognisehim as the pioneer of culture and music in Turkey and appreciate the invaluable work he has done as the owner of Kalan Music; a label whose social value is immeasurable. We respect and cherish his memory from London as we give our condolences to all his loved ones. He left us too soon and left a big gap behind him.
Hasan Saltık was born in Tunceli in 1964 and then moved to Istanbul during his high school years. He had to quit studying the oboe at Istanbul State Conservatory in order to take jobs at the age of 19. He founded Kalan Music in 1991 after working at his cousin Rahmi Saltuk’s record company for 4 years. Saltık’s aim was to preserve the music of Anatolia while founding this company. He collected and released important works with ethnomusicological value from Turkey and its neighbouring regions under his label. Most of these came from collectors’ dusty archives, families of old musicians, and Saltık’s own recordings. Many specialists and musicologists were involved in the process.
Kalan Music was the first music label in Turkey to clean up and re-release 78 rpm records of late Ottoman music, the legendary voices of Armenian and Greek minority singers, and of old great recordings of rebetika and klezmer music. The company’s biggest goal has always been to preserve the music and culture of Anatolia, especially those that belong to minority groups in Turkey. Kalan Music was named after Saltık’s natal town’s old name, but at the same time the Turkish word “Kalan” means “what’s left remaining/surviving”. This name seems to allude to the mission of the company in amplifying the voices of ethnic and religious minority groups in Turkey, who have had to assimilate in order to survive and lost some of their traditions while doing so. In this sense, Kalan Music’s mission and vision are especially important in providinganthropological and historical reference points to preserve these cultures. It was important for Saltık, who stated that “Minorities are our biggest cultural asset; we should be protecting them and promoting them. […] I see it as my duty”, to ensure that these people and their identities are not forgotten, but instead are celebrated.
Kalan Music’s projects included recordings of Kurdish folk songs, Armenian chants, Turkish ballads, Judeo-Spanish tunes, authentic village ceremonial music, Romani melodies from Thrace, polyphonic Laz music from Northeast Turkey, Zaza songs from Tunceli, the music of Pomaks (Slavonic Muslims originating from Bulgaria), Alevi Bektashi religious songs, and the music of traditional rituals from all parts of the region. However, the company received some backlash and government opposition for amplifying the voices of minority groups, especially after the 1980 Turkish coup d’état that banned the use of minority languages. Saltık never stopped fighting in order to release the music of these groups. In time, Kalan Music’s relationship with the government was normalized, and Saltık’s efforts came to be officially appreciated to the point of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism handing out Kalan CDs to visiting dignitaries.
Saltık’s work with Kalan Music made him a laureate of Netherlands’ International Prince Claus Awards on the theme “The survival and innovation of Crafts” in 2003 for having “played a central role in the rescue, rediscovery, and documentation of the cultural diversity of Turkish music”. The following year in 2004, Time Magazine published a feature article about Saltık, calling him “a rebel at heart” and “The Anthropologist of Folk Music”.
Kalan Music made it their mission to promote and introduce musicians and genres of all origins as they related to the Anatolian geography. In addition to their dedication to preserving old traditions and values, the company also recognised the importance of providing contemporary music of ethnomusicological value with equal opportunity. Their historically and anthropologically monumental catalogue features archival reissues of folk/rural artists(Muharrem Ertaş, Âşık Veysel), urban/art musicians (Safiye Ayla, Yorgo Bacanos, Tamburi Cemil Bey, Udi Hrant, Münir Nurettin Selçuk), contemporary urban art musicians in Turkey (Yansımalar, Necdet Yaşar), contemporary folk music performers (Neşet Ertaş, Erkan Oğur), Alevi musicians, Anatolian ethnic music (Kardeş Türküler, Aynur Doğan) and protest and political music (Grup Yorum, Fikret Kızılok).
As emphasized earlier, the catalogue of Kalan Music paid special attention to and focused on ethnic and religious minorities under these categories. The company embraced musicians and languages from all over the Anatolian region, from singers who sing in their native languages like Aynur Doğan (Nûpel and Keçe Kurdan) and Maral Ayvaz (Maral Gibi) to compilations of ethnic music in local languages (Köprü-Adığe-Abaza Ezgileri), from religious music in various languages (Luys/Işık by Lida Köseoğlu) to music from neighbouring regions (Kardeş by Divanhana and Suzan Kardeş).
Kalan Music brought people from all over Anatolia and beyond together in the loving and accepting embrace of music under Hasan Saltık’s vision and goals. Music is one of the few universal constants that bring each and every one of us together during unfortunate times when race, ethnicity, religion, and language can so easily divide us. If you would like to listen to more music like this and learn more about different cultures, you can listen to Turquazz’s “Kalan Music Playlist” and follow Kalan Müzik on social media.