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Homegrown Plus Premiere: Ali Doğan Gönültas Quartet

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We’re continuing the Homegrown Plus Premiere series with Ali Doğan Gönültas and Friends. This year, Homegrown is presenting a combination of live concerts here at the Library of Congress and video premieres of prerecorded concerts from around the world. The prerecorded concerts premiere here on the blog, and videos of the live concerts will be placed here a few weeks after they happen, so keep watching the blog for more great concerts all season!  This is one of our prerecorded video concerts, shot on video in Istanbul and presented here for the first time! As is usual for the series, this blog post includes an embedded concert video, an interview video, and a set of related links to explore!

Ali Doğan Gönültas is a Kurdish musician born in Turkey. A graduate of Kocaeli University in both archaeology and communications, he started his professional music career by founding the band Ze Tijê; the group has since released two albums and has performed hundreds of concerts in Turkey.


Ali’s oral history and field research, which he began in 2007, led him to record and release the 2022 album “Kiğı,” and to record this concert. Kiğı is a personal look at the 150-year musical process of the village of Kiğı, Ali’s birthplace. It consists of works in the regional languages of Kurmancî, Kırdaskî, Armenian and Turkish, as well as Zazakî, Ali’s mother tongue. Themes and styles such as govend (traditional Kurdish dance), laments, work songs, and prayer forms are conveyed with the modal characteristics of the region.

Ali recorded most of the concert in Gazi Mahallesi, his neighborhood in Istanbul. An ethnically mixed neighborhood with a reputation for being a microcosm of Anatolia, Gazi Mahallesi has many people from Kiğı and the region around it, who are of Kurdish heritage and Alevi religion, including Ali and his friends. It also has a reputation for political activism, and for being a tough urban neighborhood with many of the usual trials and challenges of the inner city. Ali wanted to give us a sense of place of this neighborhood, as well as of his more rural origins, all in a brief concert video. So without further ado, watch it in the player below!

In the interview, Ali told us a little about his life and career. We spoke about his first exposure to music, and how he learned from family and friends. We spoke about his training in archaeology and film, and how that affected his music making. He explained the connections between his hometown of Kiğı and his current neighborhood of Gazi Mahallesi. He filled us in on his process of collecting songs and stories from the different communities of Kiğı, and told us how in former times Armenians, Kurds, and other residents understood one another’s feelings through music. See our wide-ranging conversation in the player below!

After the premiere, you’ll be able to find both these videos with more bibliographic information at this link on the Library of Congress website. You’ll also find them on the Library of Congress YouTube Channel.

Collection Connections

If you enjoyed the concert and interview, check out the Collection Connections below. You’ll find links to archival collections, guides, and other materials related to Turkish, Armenian, and Kurdish music and culture.

Connect with Ali Doğan Gönültas

Collections Guides

Field Collections Online

The collections guides above link to our collections with items from Turkish, Kurdish, and Armenian communities. The collections below are the ones with significant materials online.

California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties Collected by Sidney Robertson Cowell

Ethnic Heritage and Language Schools in America Project


Selected Videos

Until Next Time…

Thanks for watching, listening, and reading! The American Folklife Center’s Homegrown Concert Series brings music, dance, and spoken arts from across the country, and some from further afield, to the Library of Congress. For several years, we’ve been presenting the concerts here on the blog with related interviews and links, in the series Homegrown Plus. (Find the whole series here!) For information on current concerts, and videos of past concerts, visit the Folklife Concerts page at Concerts from the Library of Congress.

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