Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Tag: “Mediterranean Music Institute”

“Mediterranean Music Institute”

Berklee in Valencia – Study Abroad

Alper Tuzcu is a 3rd semester student at Berklee. He is from Istanbul, Turkey. He plays guitar and is a Contemporary Writing and Production major. 


It’s the finals week in Valencia, and it is extremely hard to concentrate on school work when the weather is constantly sunny, 80+ degrees. Having the knowledge that there is a beach 15 minutes with the blue waters of the Mediterranean is not really helping either. This is where the “Berklee beach” satire comes into life, minus the joke.


It is pretty common to start a day with a quick swim on the beach before classes. Moreover, on the days where there are no classes half of the day is spent on the beach, maybe other half is spent at the school for the work. It is an unusual way of spending finals week, but with the right combination this works out pretty well. It is definitely a great start to the day and the lack of stress increases productivity much more than you would imagine.


This is also a time where I’m spending a lot of time in the studios, especially due to the MTI minor classes I am pursuing. Recording Skills for Music Production and Mixing for Musicians are two classes from this minor, which is only offered in the Valencia campus, that I have been taking this semester. We have been assigned to do a Singer Songwriter Project and a Sound Alike project through out the semester, where we create multi-track demos using the state of art studios and amazing facilities here at Valencia.


The sound alike project is basically taking a song of our choice and recording and mixing by trying to get close to the original recording. The aim is to copy all instruments and effects being used in the track. Through this process you actually start to learn to pay attention to the various details in the song you might not hear as a normal listener, but crucial effects that might contribute to the final outcome of the song to a great extent. Sound alike project is definitely a harder process than the singer songwriter project, because you are trying to do a song that is other than yours and consequently you are much less flexible. For this project, I have been spending a lot of time in the studios lately, but it seems that the final result will be worth it.


For this week, this is more or less what is going on at Valencia. Next week will be our last week here and it is not going to be easy to leave here, what is home for all of us at this point.

Study Abroad in Valencia – In the Studio, Out on the Mountains

Alper Tuzcu is a 3rd semester student at Berklee. He is from Istanbul, Turkey. He plays guitar and is a Contemporary Writing and Production major. 
Finally I get to use the amazing studios at Valencia. For my Music Technology Innovation (MTI)  Recording/Mixing classes we have to recording a singer songwriter project. As I am the songwriter in this case, I recorded a song with a brilliant vocalist I met on the campus. It took me a while to write the song, but I wanted to write something specific in Valencia. 

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Study Abroad in Valencia – Donde estoy?/Where Am I?

Alper Tuzcu is a 3rd semester student at Berklee. He is from Istanbul, Turkey. He plays guitar and is a Contemporary Writing and Production major. 

Where am I?/ Donde estoy?

As we are walking the small cobblestone streets of the El Carmen neighborhood, it is already nighttime in Valencia. We are on our way to see our friends in the Master’s program, who are going to play some music at one of the best local jazz venues in town. We are speaking English and kind of being “loud tourists” around the relatively quite neighborhood. As we walk in to the venue, we hear a familiar tune, Summertime, with the groove mixed with Indian melodies. The next song is a flamenco song, with more microtonal and Indian melodies over and around it. We hear a jazz song with Mediterranean grooves on the rhythm section. 

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Study Abroad in Valencia – Yes, it is actually 75 degrees here right now.

Alper Tuzcu is a 3rd semester student at Berklee. He is from Istanbul, Turkey. He plays guitar and is a Contemporary Writing and Production major. 

Life in Valencia is quite different from Boston in many different ways. For me, the biggest difference is transportation around the town. At Valencia, majority of people bike around the town everyday. The student residence is a little far from the campus, but you can get to the school in almost 20 minutes by biking. There are a lot of cars, but there are specific bike lanes almost everywhere and in our experience the lanes were respected at all times. I

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Middle Eastern Festival – A Journey to the Mediterranean Crossroads of Cultures by Ziga Pirnat

Last Monday, the Middle Eastern Festival took place at the BPC, joining artists from the Mediterranean region with students from all over the world performing music from their homelands.Those who attended the concert experienced an audible insight into a world of rich and diverse history, and took part in an incredible meeting of the sound of numerous civilizations that have lived and contributed to the unique cultural heritage of the Mediterranean.

Coming from a country on the Mediterranean, I have always felt a bewitching attraction to the music from the region. Listening to the Berklee Balkan choir and their throat singing pieces made last Monday a special experience, as I heard something that sounded so close to home.

However, I had never paid much attention to the intercultural connections and links between styles and musical traditions from the region that is culturally so colorful. I guess I had always thought that they were just too diverse and with just too many different influences to be compared and combined together. Therefore I was a bit skeptical at first about the Middle Eastern festival exploring connections between Flamenco, Arabic, Mediterranean, and Balkan music, also reflecting the journey Gypsies took from India to the Mediterranean. I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

The artistic director of Berklee in Valencia‘s Mediterranean Music Institute, Javier Limón, and the Middle Eastern Festival founder, Christiane Karam, did a great job. The primarily flamenco-themed festival titled “Flamenco Today: A Journey Through Andalusia” successfully incorporated and combined sounds from all across the Mediterranean into a beautiful and sound whole. It was at this point that I realized how interconnected this music was. After a mesmerizing three-hour ride through Siguiriya, Andalusian Wasla, Balkan Suite, Mediterranean Soundscape, Tango Flamenco, Peroche and Buleria, it became obvious to me how much all these musical styles have in common.

To think about it, it is really not that surprising. The Mediterranean has always been a place where many civilizations met, a place of migrations, wars, prosperity, large empires and – rich trade. The Greeks had colonies all around the Mediterranean; Alexander the Great established an enormous empire, as well as Romans. Since the destruction of the First Temple, Jewish people have been present all around the region and have left an indispensable contribution in its culture. Arabs dominated the Iberian Peninsula for centuries and their cultural influence was only reduced after the Reconquista, but never ceased to exist, which was also the case with the legacy of the Sephardim after their expulsion in 1492. For centuries, the Ottoman Empire stretched far north into the Balkans, bringing its own cultural contribution and also serving as an intermediary of Arab culture. Gypsies brought their own sound from India and by migrating, they dispersed it through the entire area. The Mediterranean was indeed a crossroads of cultures, where many civilizations have lived or travelled through and each left unique tracks behind them.

The unmatched cultural diversity and heritage of this place makes another argument, why it is so important for Berklee to be present in the region. The words of Sissy Castrogiovanni, a current student of Global Studies at the Berklee Valencia campus, illustrate that vividly: “a great place. Beautiful music, beautiful people.” Simply said, but true. (public domain image)

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