The sharp strings of Goksel Baktagir’s qanun hit first. Then enter the dissonant sounds of gourds, djembes, a drum machine and a keyboard. The smoky voice of the youngest of the three Hakki brothers begins to undulate across the room, building space for a syncopated dance track to follow.
In Istanbul, where estimates of up to 25 million people live, some 25 people comprised mainly of Syrians and Turkish musicians, the audience and a camera crew squeezed into a small basement studio where deep blue lights reflected off ivory keys and matte black headphones. The gig on June 30 was the first live performance of In the Studio Project — an initiative led by Serkan Hakki, a young clarinet player originally from Aleppo — since the start of the pandemic. He is on a mission to use recording sessions to bond listeners with studio musicians.