The haunting beauty of this album will transport you to the land of melancholy and sadness but through your tears you will be utterly moved, struck by the overwhelming feeling of the profound as the fingers of the ancients caress you from beyond the centuries, tantalising you with the despair of human emotion.
The duduk is an indigenous Armenian woodwind instrument, most similar to the oboe. It’s evocative call, beckons you from the highest mountains, through the crumbling walls of cities and the restless graves of the innocent dead. This is not a political blog but one cannot help but associate this moving music with the Armenian genocide, the systematic extermination of the Armenians by the Turkish authorities from 1915. In fact the word genocide was coined by Raphael Lemkin a Belarus born Polish human rights lawyer in reference to this conflict.
The player is Djivan Gasparayan born in Solak in 1928 and is a world famous master of the instrument. If you listen, you will hear two instruments being played, one supplies the drone note, the other the melody. This is World Music at it’s most intriguing, it’s most exotic. What an experience it would be to immerse yourself in the music from the region (Armenia borders Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Iran) sharing the wonders of these ancient lands through their musicians and their musical traditions.
Luckily for us we have CD’s and vinyl, the internet and access to music from all over the world. But can you imagine if this was the only music you had ever heard? This album is simply captivating – it’s yearning, it’s pleading with the gods, it’s bleeding for peace. This is a soul soothing masterpiece, a journey you can take whilst luxuriating in the comfort of your private musical den. Feeling stressed? Dim the lights, light the candles, and return your human spirt to the beginning of time.
If you wish to hear the duduk in a contemporary musical context, Gasparayan appears and co-wrote the final track on David Sylvian’s album, Dead Bees On A Cake from 1999.