Traditional / folk music of Armenia
Armenia is a small country with a population around three million and amazingly with rich ancient culture including folk music. Armenian highlands is a place where people sing many popular folk music songs. It is a home to the famous Ararat mountain and important classical composer, Aram Khachaturian.
Armenia has a sad history and until today, it suffers and mourn for it. Until 1880s, Armenians were living under the Ottoman Empire with harmony. But after that, rise of nationalism began to change the political situation of Ottoman Empire. Armenians were the only Christian minority between Ottoman Empire and Central Asia and they started to persecute Armenians. One of the biggest genocide of history was done by Turkish government between 1915 and 1923. In a systematic extermination, 1.5 million Armenians were murdered. Obviously this was a big moment and tragedy in Armenian history and today this sadness can be heard in folk music of Armenia. Sad and mournful sound of duduk still talks about the Armenian Holocaust in the folk music of Armenia.
Armenia is located in border of Asia and Europe. So the traditional music of Armenia has characteristics from both sides. From Asian side, Armenian folk music has elements from Middle East countries like Iran and Turkey. For example it is monophonic which is a single melodic line, without accompaniment at different pitches) and with a strong tonal center (a specific pitch which the music revolves around). From the other side, on the rhythms and dynamics, it is closer to European music.
Folk music of Armenia consist of many different categories of the folk songs. For example many different working song for farmers which are performed in many different aspects. Wedding songs are another part of traditional songs. They consist of about 100 songs which each of them is for specific moment in the ceremony. Love and dance songs are another two categories for folk songs in Armenia. There are diverse rhythms and patterns for dance songs.
The diverse traditional music and songs of Armenia developed and collected by a priest called Komitas. He is recognized as one of pioneers of ethnomusicology. He was living during Armenian Genocide. He is widely seen as a martyr of the genocide and has been depicted as one of the main symbols of the Armenian Genocide in art. In the beginning he transformed to the killing camps, but with the request of Turkish nationalist poet Mehmet Emin Yurdakul, the writer Halide Edip, the US. ambassador Henry Morgenthau and then special order of Talat Pasha, he returned back and then got deported. But he suffered from traumatic neurosis problem until his death on 1935 in psychiatric clinic in Paris.
Many different type of folk musical instruments are used in Armenia. Duduk is the national musical symbol of Armenia. It is an ancient double-reed woodwind flute made of apricot wood. It is indigenous to Armenia. As mentioned above many duduk songs are sad and weeping. Aram Khachaturian told about the duduk: “It is the only instrument whose sound makes me cry.”
Some other traditional musical instruments are kanun or qanun (kind of boxed zither), qamancha (kind of fiddle similar to Persian kamancheh), dhol (double-headed hand drum ), zurna (wind instrument which played in central Eurasia, ranging from the Balkans to Central Asia ), oud (kind of lute which is common in Middle East and North Africa), etc.
Similar to Azeri and Turkish culture, Armenia has a type of musicians called ashoughs. Historically they were traveler musicians. They were singing different type of folk songs like historical stories, jokes and riddles. In Armenia their instrument usually was qamancha. Sayat-Nova was one of the most important and famous ashough of Armenia. His name means “King of Songs”. His songs are in Armenian, Georgian, Azerbaijani, and Persian.
If you have more information about the folk music of Armenia, its genres or instruments or you know specific song on each genre, please kindly contact us and let us know about it or send them through “Post a Song” link on top of the page. Also if you see any wrong information about the song tags on the list below please kindly let us know.
Traditional / folk songs for Armenia
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