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the project

After two volumes of vocal music drawn largely from the sacred/classical tradition, The Music of Armenia, Volume Three may seem like a complete departure. This is after all, a collection devoted to traditional/folk music for the wind instrument known as duduk. But as is so often the case with Armenian music, there are long–standing connections between these apparently distinct styles. Not only are the traditions of Armenian classical and folk music intertwined, with their common roots in ancient bardic and epic songs, but some songs from the medieval sacred repertoire have recently made their way into the duduk players' arsenal as well, like Vasn mero perkutian (track 15), in part due to the playing of Gevorg Dabagian. And the duduk's soft, reedy sound has an almost vocal quality that makes it nearly as songful and soulful as the voices heard in the first two volumes.

Of all the instruments played in Armenia, the duduk is perhaps the most truly Armenian. Other traditional instruments can all be traced back to ancestoral instruments from the Arabic world, but the duduk appears to be specific to Armenia. Small wonder, then, that many Armenians consider the duduk to be the instrument that most eloquently expresses the warmth, the joy, and the tragedy of Armenia.

Many of these pieces are simply instrumental transcriptions of what were originally vocal works. Others are old melodies that have come to be associated with the duduk; if they had words originally, they have long been lost. And some of the pieces come from one of Armenia's most unusual sources of music: the troubadour/poets known as ashugh.

the artists

Gevorg Dabagian is among the most important duduk players in Armenia today. Not only a great virtuoso player, he is also one of the first to perform excerpts from the Divine Liturgy of the Armenian church on the duduk, a double–reed wind instrument developed nearly 1,500 years ago. Its signature tone is plagent, mournful, and slightly nasal, but it is also capable of tender lyricism and genuine, if somewhat subdued energy. Dabagian is especially famous for his interpretations of the works of Sayat Nova, and his performances of traditional Armenian folk music are considered by purists to be free of foreign influence. He studied at the Yerevan State Conservatory, where he now teaches; in addition, he is the leader of the Shoghaken Folk Ensemble.

Gevorg Dabagian is the soloist, but the duduk is never played alone. A second duduk (or even a small group of duduk players) will always accompany the lead player with a drone, creating a musical environment for the lead duduk's melody. The duduk dam, or drone accompaniment, is provided by Girgor Takushian and Eduard Harutunian. Kamo Khachaturian, one of Armenia's most sought–after percussionists, plays the dhol two-headed drum.

tracklist

1 Hovern enkan (A cool breeze is blowing.) 4'35"
2 Amen aravot (Every morning.) 3'41"
3 Akh im champen (Ah, my road.) 3'42"
4 Es gisher, lusnak gisher (Tonight the moon is full.) 3'36"
5 Kali yerg (Harvest song.) 5'36"
6 Kamantcha 3'01"
7 Kezanits mas chunem (I miss you.) 4'54"
8 Dle yaman 4'16"
9 Tui tui 2'40"
10 Yes mi tsar em tsirani & tsirani bar mi tar (The apricot tree medley.) 4'36"
11 Vorskan akhper (Brother hunter.) 4'55"
12 Ashkhares mi panjara ye (The world is a window.) 2'59"
13 Tsarere tsahgum en (The trees are in bloom.) 4'20"
14 Pailun arusiak (Shining Arusiak.) 3'00"
15 Vasn mero perkutian (For us to be saved.) 2'31"
16 Chachaneh tsaghadzoreh 2'50"
17 Me khosk unim (I have a word for you.) 4'24"
18 Alashkerti cochari 3'53"
  Total Time: 71'35"