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Yüksek Yüksek Tepelere

Translates as “To the High High Hills”, is a Turkish Folk song that carries sentimental value in one of the many events prior to a traditional Turkish wedding due to its sense of longing for family and hometown.  

The song is traditionally performed on the Henna Night, also known as “Kina Gecesi,” one of the events and ceremonies happening in Turkish culture before a wedding takes place. Several events and ceremonies must occur prior to the actual wedding. The first of these is: “Kiz isteme,” which translates to “requesting the girl” when the groom and his family go to meet the family of the bride and ask the father of the soon to be bride for his approval of the marriage. Then the “Nişan” which is the engagement party usually organized by the bride family. After, the “Henna Night” and lastly, the wedding itself. 

On the Henna Night, usually a female only event, but not always, happening a day or two before the wedding, the bride wears a red dress and a cloak with gold embroidery. The bride goes into a room with other females from her family and friends and dance to Turkish music, later inviting all other females to dance as well. After the dancing, the bride sits in the middle of the group and is surrounded by the other ladies and the henna begins to be applied to her hands. A group of ladies begin to walk in a circle around the bride with candles on their hands and “Yüksek Yüksek Tepelere” is typically sung. A common aspect of this is making the bride to cry to show true sorrow for departing from her family and home. According to the tradition, the purpose of this is to make the bride move on from crying into laughing with her life. Therefore, the sad, emotional and sensible character of the piece.

The story behind the songs is about a 15-year-old girl, Zeynep. Ali, from a far away village saw her and fell in love with her immediately, love at first sight. They started the customs and asked his father permission to marry her and began to make arrangements with Zeynep’s family. At first, her family didn’t approve and disagreed to the marriage, but after a lot of effort on Ali’s part, they accepted the marriage. Over the years Ali began to mistreat and humiliate Zeynep. He became a drinker and stayed overnight in gaming houses. During this time Zeynep started singing the song Yüksek Yüksek Tepelere. People from her husband’s village called for family members she hasn’t seen in a long time to come and visit her. They came, but during the visit, Zeynep seriously ill, passed away.



Lyrics in English:

Don’t let them build home on high hills

Don’t let them give brides to far away lands

Don’t let them talk down to mothers’ precious


Let it be an omen to the flying birds, I miss my mother

Both, my mother and my father. I miss my village


If only my father had a horse so that he can come to me

If only my mother had a sail so that she can come to me

If only my siblings knew my roads so that they’d come to me


Let it be an omen to the flying birds, I miss my mother

Both, my mother and my father. I miss my village

Hear my performance of the piece in an amazing guitar arrangement by Rentko Dirks:

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