“There isn’t a better introduction to traditional Armenian music.” The Chicago Reader
“The Shoghaken Ensemble does more than preserve fading rural artifacts – the band gives them eternal life through interpretations that are stunning in their drive, beauty and mystery.” The Boston Herald
A musical journey through historic Armenia showcasing traditional instruments such as duduk, kamancha, ud, kanun, kaval, d’hol and vocal styles of Armenian music. Armenia’s preeminent traditional folk group brings this music to life, performing troubadour love songs, urban ballads, shepherd’s tunes and traditional dances. Virtuosity not to be believed!
Gevorg Dabaghyan solo duduk, zurna
Hasmik Harutyunyan vocals
Aleksan Harutyunyan vocals, dap
Levon Tevanyan shvi ,blul, pku
Grigor Takushyan dham duduk
Karine Hovhannisyan kanon
Vardan Baghdasaryan kamancha
Aram Nikoghosyan ud
Kamo Khatchaturian dhol
1. Unabi/Marali dance of shushi
2. Angin Yars -Tamzara priceless love
3. Ashkharums akh chim kashi i will not be sad in this world
4. En Dizan/Takvori Mer mounds of grass
5. Hayko hayko, my beauty
6. Het u Araj forward and back
7. Kamancha kamancha
8. Shushiki dance of erzurum
9. Melodies of Karabagh shepherd’s call
10. Butanya Krunk the crane
11. Jakhraki Vot work songs of taron
12. Sev Moot Amper dark clouds
13. Krngeli folk dance of karabagh
14. Mugham modal improvisation
15. Aygepan the farmer
THE SHOGHAKEN ENSEMBLE
Founded by Gevorg Dabaghyan in 1991, The Shoghaken Ensemble has become one of the preeminent traditional music ensembles in Armenia. Dedicated to rediscovering and continuing Armenia’s extraordinary folk music history, the group presents music from a broad geographical and historical span using traditional instruments and song styles. The ensemble has performed extensively in Europe, Armenia and throughout the former Soviet Union. The group recently performed on the soundtrack of Atom Egoyan’s movie Ararat. In the summer of 2002 Shoghaken performed at the Smithsonian Folk Festival in Washington, DC, and in the spring of 2004 the group performed in a 20-concert tour across the US, including concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Symphony Space in New York and the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia, as well as Harvard University, Cornell University, UC Berkeley and Dartmouth College. Their recordings include Armenia Anthology, winner of the NARAS/NARM award for best world music recording of the year in 2003, and Traditional Dances of Armenia (both on Traditional Crossroads). Their recent performances include concerts at Theatre de la Ville in Paris, France, the White Nights festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Rudolstadt Festival in Rudolstadt, Germany and, in 2008, another tour of the United States with concert at Carnegie Hall, The Kimmel Center, Cornell University, Dartmouth University and JKF Center for the Performing Arts.
The duduk, a double-reed pipe made of apricot wood, is native to Armenia and symbolically considered its national instrument, though variants can be found in Turkish, Kurdish, Georgian and Azerbaijani regions as well. The Armenian duduk is especially known for its velvety, lyrical and melancholy timbre, close to the human voice. With 9 finger holes and one lower thumb hole, the instrument’s sound would seem to be limited, but the best musicians use subtle lip and finger techniques to extend its range. The duduk is always accompanied by a second duduk that emits a drone (dham), around which the principal player weaves complex melodies and improvisations. The musician achieves this unbroken drone note (dhamkash) by using circular breathing, which the main duduk player also uses occasionally for sustained musical phrases.
The zurna, a double-reed oboe, can be found throughout the Middle East, where its shrill, piercing call outdoors provides an insistent invitation to ritual celebrations and a driving accompaniment to dance. In Armenia, the zurna was traditionally considered phallic, forbidden to women, and the zurna player (“zurnachi”), occasionally itinerant, had a major social role in village communities. Beyond performing at weddings, feasts and funerals, he was called upon for advice, to mediate family disputes, and even to cure a deranged person by making him or her dance to the wail of the zurna for hours.
Shepherd’s flutes were an important part of Armenian pastoral culture for millennia, the earliest prototypes having been found in Garni and Dvin in Eastern Armenia at archaeological sites dating back to the 5th or 6th century BCE. The blul, or dziranapogh (literally “pipe made of apricot wood” in Armenian), is an end-blown flute akin to the Middle Eastern nay or Balkan kaval, with 8 finger holes and a deep, haunting sound. It is used like the shvi (a small fipple flute) to signal both sheep and other shepherds while working in the hills, as well as to play folk songs and dances, the latter often accompanied by the dhol. Made from cane, wood or bone, the shvi has a mouthpiece with an adjacent metal ring for adjusting pitch, and produces a velvety, subdued sound. It has 6 to 7 finger holes and one lower thumb hole, and a range of an octave and a half. There are different types and sizes of shvi, with different pitches, especially since the beginning of the 20th century when additional sizes were created in order to play different scales. The smoking pipe-shaped pku consists of a small, wooden stick with 7 holes, a reed fitted at one end and the open cone of a bull’s horn at the other forming the bell. Its size can also vary, producing higher or lower pitches.
The kamancha, a three-string vertical fiddle with a gourd base resting on a metal tip and played with a horizontal bow made of horse hair, is found in various forms in the urban classical musics of the Middle East and is a direct antecedent of the Western violin. In Armenia it is strongly associated with the urban, refined 18th-century ashugh (troubadour) music of Sayat Nova, and in the 20th century it has become a principal instrument along with the duduk in the interpretation of Armenia’s folk music.
The kanon, a trapezoidal lap zither commonly played in Arabic and Turkish classical music, has been in use in some form since at least the 4th century. The Armenian version has 24 triple courses of gut or plastic strings stretched over a set of metal levers that modify the pitch of the strings. The bridge rests on a narrow strip of skin that creates a resonant and percussive sound. The strings are plucked with tortoise-shell or horn plectrums. Prior to the late 19th century the instrument had been played without metal levers, the player modifying the pitches by applying pressure with the left thumb.
The ud, a short-necked fretless lute widespread throughout the Middle East, is generally associated with the instrumentation of Western Armenia, in the regions of Anatolia that are now part of modern Turkey. Only since the mid-20th century has it been common in eastern Armenia, where it has typically been used to play the bass line within the ensemble against the melodic woodwinds (as on this recording), rather than as the dominant melody instrument more typical to the west.
The dhol is a large cylindrical drum with skin on both sides, usually played with the hands, though for loud, traditional outdoor celebrations and more ritualistic dances like the shoror and tamzara, the drummer (“dholchi”) beats the drum with a pair of wooden sticks (the stick is called a “gopal”), creating an intense, gut-piercing dance beat.
The dap is a single-headed Armenian frame drum, equivalent to the Arab duff. The wooden frame is 35 to 50 cm in diameter, with jingles (metal rings, rattles, silver coins, etc.) attached inside the frame that sound when the drum is played or shaken.