Armenian Music

Written by Serena Berger
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Armenian music has many different subcategories. There are artists performing and recording in all of the various sub-genres of Armenian music, so if you are looking to sample the sounds of this rich culture you will have a number of distinctive sonorities from which to choose. Whether you like intimate folk music or stirring sacred music, the Armenian tradition incorporates it all.

Pure Armenian folk music is performed by a string duo. This consists of an oud (a lute) and a kanuna (a board zither); percussion may be added. There are also many artists who still explore aboriginal music with a duduc ensemble. In a duduc ensemble, a soloist plays a double-reed flute, backed by a drone and sometimes percussion.

Liturgical Armenian Music

Armenian classical work is comprised of astonishingly beautiful liturgical works, such as masses and sacred choirs. Christianity was strong in Armenia from the beginning, and sacred works by such composers as Nerses Shnorhali are powerful testaments to the Christian faith in Armenia. The sharagan is a form of canonical hymn favored by Armenian monks from the fifth century A.D. onward, and many are offered in glorious recordings.

As Armenia related to the rest of the continent, and then the world, Armenian music grew more varied in its forms and instrumentation. Use of the clarinet, violin, or bouzouki indicated influences from Turkey, Greece, and Russia. Today, Armenian music also embraces influences from Western culture, as Armenian composers study all over the world.


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