Library of
Design, Art and Idea

Raif Kara Interview

25.02.2015
Vol. 4

When Edison invented the phonograph in 1877, and Emile Berliner devised the gramophone in 1887, the pleasure of listening to music started to become what the public, too, enjoys besides the aristocracy. In early 1900s, primarily in England, and then in France, America, Italy and many other countries, gramophones were started to be made, and the highest quality of all those was the British gramophone “His Master’s Voice” which was made properly and designed to be lasting for a lifetime. The sound of a gramophone is said to be the closest one to the ears of humankind.

The first musical instrument of humankind was its own voice. Humankind later made musical instruments such as a whistle in order to raise its voice and make sure that it can reach far places. Meanwhile, humankind invented “percussion instruments” so as to enhance the rhythm that it reflected by hand clapping and foot tapping. Hearing the sounds from the canes in the reeds because of the winds that blow, humankind managed to make a voice by blowing into the canes and invented “wind instruments”. Out of the voice coming from the bow while shooting an arrow, humankind got to the idea of “string instruments”... All these impressions, searches and inventions show that humankind has needed music in every period and always. Therefore,we say“Music is the food for the soul.” For our newborn babies we first sing a lullaby... We listen to music when we get sorrowful... We listen to music when we want to have fun... Music has been and will be always with us at any kind of ceremonies; at weddings, at festivals, at funerals. And humankind has also invented a device that allows it to record the voices of many musical instruments and listen to them later; a device that makes one feel as if the voices are being sung or played alive thanks to its visual aesthetic and sound quality. Gramophone When Edison invented the phonograph in 1877, and Emile Berliner devised the gramophone in 1887, the pleasure of listening to music started to become what the public, too, enjoys besides the aristocracy. In early 1900s, primarily in England, and then in France, America, Italy and many other countries, gramophones were started to be made, and the highest quality of all those was the British gramophone “His Master’s Voice” which was made properly and designed to be lasting for a lifetime. The sound of a gramophone is said to be the closest one to the ears of humankind. There is no one that listens to it and does not get impressed as a result. It allows us to hear each other by vibrations, as well as feel human voice directly in those vibrations and it is as if every voice coming out of the gramophone is singing live for who listens to it at the time. Today we will chat with a gramophone-lover and also a collector in love with the gramophone’s aesthetic appearance and matchless sound, a very dear man Raif KARA (Gramophone and Gramophone Record Collector) about his collection. Raif KARA is a businessman born in Ankara in 1962. He graduated from the Department of Librarianship at the Faculty of Language History and Geography at Ankara University, and is a father to three children named Irmak, Yagmur, and Umay. Mr. Raif, we wanted to take a journey to your collection for the readers of the “Box in a Box Idea”. How did your story begin? I had an interest in collection of old things. First, I started with collecting old things in the immediate vicinity. The following years my communication continuing with junk dealers and antiquaries enabled me to meet with the gramophone in 1984. I can say that when I saw the gramophone giving me a different pleasure than any other old things did, the rare gramophones and gramophone records that I have collected over the past 28 years have made me one of the most famous and comprehensive collectors in that regard in Turkey of the most known collectors in Turkey. I suppose your collection is not limited to gramophones only? Yes, it is not. Now there are 2 pieces of LATERNA which were music devices in the period before there was ever a voice record, and 4 pieces of PHONOGRAPH with which the first voice record was made by Edison in the world in 1877. In addition to approximately 100 vinyls cylinder records of foreign artists, there are also 24 Ottoman cylinder records of these phonographs in this collection and these records are made of wax in 1895 and so precious to Turkish music history. In my Gramophone and Gramophone Records Collection there are 116 original and working gramophones of world-famous brands such as “Victor”, “His Master’s Voice”, “Columbia”, “Pathe”, “Polyphone”, and “Electrola”. What draws attention is that among those gramophones is the world’s smallest gramophone “Mikiphone”, as well as a “HIS MASTER’S VOICE” brand gramophone which was specially made in golden cover for the Ottoman, and each one of them is more valuable than one another which have horns, woodworks, and are rare. There are 4 gramophones for children besides the above mentioned ones.
What would you say about your gramophone records and musics recorded on them? There are about 30 special records for children’s gramophones. There are also the first records of many music artists including Hafiz Burhan, Safiye Ayla, Deniz Kizi Eftelya, Münir Nurettin Selçuk, Yesari Asim Arsoy, Muzeyyen Senar, Hamiyet Yüceses, Zeki Muren and Abdullah Yuce, as well as many valuable records including the 10th Year Speech with the voice of Ataturk, the composed and non-composed versions of the Turkish National Anthem, and many other precious records such as the call for prayer in Turkish by Hafiz Saadettin (KAYNAK)’s voice, and 16 pictured records that are rarely found. Approximately 4.500 gramophone records, most of which belong to esteemed hafizes and artists from Turkish Art Music, about 350.000 gramophone needles, as well as related affiches, brochures, souvenirs and many record sleeves are included in his collection. Well, Mr. Raif, what is the difference between gramophone records and pick-up records? Gramophone records fall into a different category. In other words, they are records of the ’78 Period. They can normally be played only by gramophones. Besides gramophones, they can be played also by special production pick-ups and those pick-ups that have an option for the ’78 Period records. However, the sound quality of a gramophone record played by a pick-up is lost by approximately 40% compared to being played by a gramophone. Because, the needle has to change each time you want to listen to a new record by a gramophone due to its technological nature. That needle is made of steel. As for pick-ups, however, they have an electronic system and only one needle can play thousands of records when external factors are excluded. So the ’78 Period records are gramophone records. 33’ records named “Long Play” and small records named 45’ are pick-up records and can be played only by pick-ups. (They cannot be played by a gramophone.) Quite a rich collection, well, do you exhibit and share this property of yours? Absolutely, for example, in April 2009 I held an exhibition named “THE VOICE COMING FROM THE PAST” at a shopping center called CEPA for 17 days for those who love gramophones and gramophone records. It was my first exhibition; however, on the other hand it has been the second exhibition of the Republic of Turkey in that regard. How was the people’s interest in the exhibition? I can say the exhibition drew great attention. During the exhibition every day at noon times and evenings live gramophone records were played, and 100.000 people visited the exhibition for 17 days the exhibition was open, and 4320 of the visitors wrote their thoughts and feelings in the exhibition notebook. After that we moved the exhibition to Kahramanmaras for a second exhibition. And there, too, we got very happy to know that 5000 people visited the exhibition in 10 days. Well, how the visitors’ profile in those exhibitions? Those who visit such collection exhibitions are likely to be people in their middle age or later. However, we very clearly saw that gramophones and gramophone records do not attract the attention of only the middle-aged and older people, unlike supposed to be so. When the visitors’ age distribution was analyzed, we saw that the number of the young people, including the elementary school children, was very close to that of the middle-aged and older people. Thank you very much, Mr. Raif, for the information you have shared... Let the music be always with you... Raif Kara opened www.gramofonkoleksiyoncusu.com his collection online to the visitation of those who are interested.
Vol. 4
What is Graffiti? Can Başdoğan Interview