Black Earth was inspired by Kara Toprak , a popular song in Turkey. The composer of the song, Aşık Veysel (1891-1973), was one of the last great Turkish balladeers and the final link in a thousand-year tradition.
Veysel went blind during childhood following an attack of smallpox. He subsequently began to learn to play the Saz, a Turkish lute, and to study poetry, initially for his own amusement. He made acquaintance with a variety of folk poets, and, after 1928, also travelled from village to village with his songs. Through the years, he became a cultural symbol of the Turkish Republic.
In the song Kara Toprak , Veysel describes loneliness and loss. All that remains is the Black Earth , the colour of the landscape in his native town of Sivas.
Fazıl Say imitates the sound of the Saz through his selection of a muted effect in the Introduction and Epilogue of Black Earth - a meditation on the themes of a ballad. in contrast, folklore, Romantic piano style and jazz are entwined in the central sections to form a large-scale outburst. Fazıl Say performs this works in both concerts of classical music and a jazz festivals: particularly in the folkloristic sections, he employs the improvisatory freedom which is inherent to both folk music and jazz.