Mustafa Copçuoğlu, born in the district of Pazar in Tokat, came to İstanbul after his high school education. Graduated from İstanbul Technical University (İTÜ) State Conservatory, Instrument Making Department, Copçuoğlu received his master’s degree in the field of Turkish Folk Dance at the same university. Leaving 35 years behind in the oud making, Mustafa Copçuoğlu has been working side by side with his son Burak Copçuoğlu for the last 1,5 years.
Recognized around the world
Mustafa Copçuoğlu said that his interest in music started during his childhood, and that he enjoyed singing and that his teachers advised him to enroll in a conservatory. Copçuoğlu stated that he did not have a special interest in instrument making until it was time to go to university, “I was going to enroll in İstanbul Technical University’s State Conservatory Instrument Making Department through a talent exam. I knew how to play the oud already. I had an interest in picking stringed instruments. I decided to specialize in making oud and lute. Our school was affiliated with the Ministry of Culture. But the conservatory became affiliated with İTÜ in 1982. So, my ÖSYM score was requested. I couldn’t enroll to get a bachelor’s degree because I didn’t take the test. Through a friend of mine, I learned that I could get in through their high school affiliation. My age was appropriate. So, I studied at the conservatory’s high school for 3 years. Then, I completed my undergraduate education at İstanbul Technical University State Conservatory Instrument Making Department. After completing my master’s degree in Turkish Folk Dance, I did a short term military service in 1994. Since August 1994, I have been practicing my profession in the Copçuoğlu Ud Atölyesi (Oud Workshop) in Kadıköy, İstanbul.” Copçuoglu’s signature ouds are being performed by musicians all over the world in countries such as Canada, the USA, Greece, France, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Kuwait, and Iraq.
Got students from Iran, Belgium, and the USA
Mustafa Copçuoğlu emphasized that foreign customers reach him by reference and said: “We have many customers who knocked on our door with the references of the local and foreign musicians who perform the ouds we had made. Foreign musicians are very conscious of it. If they want to buy an oud, they come to İstanbul already knowing whom to visit.” Expressing the hardship in supplying the necessary materials for oud making in the 1990s, Copçuoğlu tells that now this problem is solved and gives the following information about the tree species he prefers in oud making: “We use African and Brazilian rosewood, mahogany, padauk, walnut, plum, and tropical African trees in the construction of oud’s body. We prefer to use the dark Canadian spruce as well as the Artvin Borçka tree, which we call indigenous spruce, for the soundboard that is attached to the center. We use ebony and rosewood trees for the tuning pegs. We start making 3 or 4 ouds at the same time. 4 ouds per month are completed on average. I’ve been working with my son Burak for 1,5 years. He already knew how to play the oud when he began and now we are working together in this business. I’m training him in the best way possible. Since 1994, I have trained successful students in oud production. In addition to names such as Ramazan Calay and Murat Yerden, I had very successful students from Iran, Belgium, and the United States. My foreign students came with the reference of the oud player Necati Çelik.”
Trying to capture the best sound
Highlighting the changing amount of the expenses according to the materials used in the oud making, Mustafa Copçuoğlu summarized the steps in the oud making: “In oud construction, the body part is completed first. Then the body is cleaned inside and outside. Then the handle is prepared from the spruce tree. Then the soundboard is made and mounted on the body. This is followed by the keyboard phase. The plectrum part on the soundboard is attached. After sanding and polishing, upper and lower nuts and frets are installed. The pegs are installed. After the leveling of the handle, the strings of the oud are mounted. After the tuning process, the oud is ready.” Expressing his never ending excitement about his profession as an oud maker, Copçuoğlu said, “In every new work, I am very excited about how it will sound. I have been practicing this profession for 35 years and I am still pursuing different innovations. The sound system I captured came to a very good standing as a result of my research. I’m doing special research on how to transfer the soundboard to the body.”