Duduk gave the world Armenia over 1500 years ago

The duduk is one of the oldest wind instruments in the world, which has survived almost unchanged. Some researchers believe that for the first time the duduk is mentioned in the written monuments of the state of Urartu, located on the territory of the Armenian Highlands (XIII - VI century BC)

Others attribute the appearance of the duduk to the time of the reign of the Armenian tsar Tigran II the Great (95-55 BC). In the writings of the Armenian historian of the 5th century AD Movses Khorenatsi speaks about the instrument "tsiranapokh" (a tube of apricot tree), which is one of the oldest written references to this tool. The duduk was depicted in many medieval Armenian manuscripts.

Due to the existence of fairly vast Armenian states (Great Armenia, Little Armenia, the Cilician kingdom, etc.) and thanks to the Armenians who lived not only within the Armenian Highlands, duduk is spreading in Persia, the Middle East, Asia Minor, the Balkans , Caucasus, in Crimea. The duduk also penetrated beyond its original distribution area due to the existing trade routes, some of which passed, including through Armenia.

Being borrowed in other countries and becoming an element of the culture of other nations, the duduk underwent some changes over the centuries. As a rule, this concerned the melody, the number of sound holes and the materials from which the instrument was made.

In various degrees, the musical instruments close to the duduk in design and sound are now available to many nations:

  • Balaban is a folk instrument in Azerbaijan, Iran, Uzbekistan and among some peoples of the North Caucasus.
  • Guan - folk instrument in China
  • Mei - folk instrument in Turkey
  • Chitriki is a folk instrument in Japan.
A type of duduk with a double-headed mouthpiece. Source www.danmoi.de
A type of duduk with a double-headed mouthpiece. Source www.danmoi.de

The unique sound of the duduk

Duduk history

The young wind was flying high in the mountains and saw a beautiful tree. The wind began to play with him, and wonderful sounds flew over the mountains. The prince of the winds was angry at that, and he raised a great storm. He defended his tree a young wind, but his strength quickly went away. He fell at the feet of the prince, asked not to destroy beauty. The governor agreed, but he punished: “If you leave the tree, waiting for its destruction”. Time passed, the young wind got bored and once rose into the sky. The tree perished, only a branch remained, in which a piece of wind got entangled.

The young man found a twig and cut a pipe from it. Only the voice of that pipe was sad. Since then in Armenia they have been playing the duduk and at weddings, and at funerals, and in war, and in peace.

Such is the legend about Duduk, the Armenian national musical instrument.

Design features duduk. Materials

The Armenian duduk is an ancient folk musical wind instrument, which is a wooden tube that has eight playing holes on the front side of the instrument and two on the back. The components of the duduk are as follows: barrel, mouthpiece, regulator and cap.

It is created only from a certain sort of apricot tree, which grows only in Armenia. Only the climate of Armenia contributes to the growth of this apricot variety. Not by chance, apricot in Latin "fructus armeniacus", that is, "Armenian fruit".

Duduki with a set of mouthpieces. Source https://bookchampion409.weebly.com
Duduki with a set of mouthpieces. Source https://bookchampion409.weebly.com

Great Armenian masters tried to use other types of wood. For example, in ancient times the duduk was made from plum, pear, apple, walnut and even bone. But only apricot gave a unique prayer-like velvety voice, characteristic of this unique wind instrument. Also made from apricot and other wind musical instruments - shvi and zurnu. Flowering apricot is considered a symbol of gentle first love, and its wood is a symbol of fortitude of the spirit, true and long love.

The duduk played the music on the duduk, where the lead duduk player plays the melody, and the second duduk is accompanied by the accompaniment, also called “dame”. When playing the lady on a duduk, the musician is required to have the following qualities: the technique of circular (continuous) breathing and to have a completely flat sound transmission.

“Dame” is a continuously sounding note of the tonic, against which the main melody of the piece develops. The art of performance by a musician (Damkash) lady at first glance may not seem to carry a particular complexity. But, as professional dudukists say, playing only a few notes of a lady is much more complicated than the whole score of a solo duduk. The art of performance of a lady on a duduk requires special skills, - correct setting during the game, and a special hold on the performer who continuously passes air through him.
The even sound of the notes is provided by a special technique of playing a musician who keeps the air inhaled through the nose, in the cheeks, providing a continuous stream to the tongue. This is also called the technique of permanent breathing (or it is called circulating breathing).

It is believed that the duduk, like no other instrument, is capable of expressing the soul of the Armenian people. The famous composer Aram Khachaturian once said that the duduk is the only instrument that makes him cry.

Varieties of duduk. Care

Depending on the length, there are several types of tools:

The most common of the modern, duduk building La, from 35 cm in length. It has a universal system, suitable for most tunes.

Instrument Up to, long just 31, see, due to which it has a higher and more delicate sound and is more suitable for duets and lyrical compositions.
The shortest duduk, building Mi, is used in dance folk music and its length - 28.

Duduk in a storage case and carrying case
Duduk in a storage case and carrying case

Like any "live" musical instrument, the duduk requires constant care. Care for the duduk is to wipe its main part with walnut oil. Besides the fact that apricot wood has a high density (772 kg / m3) and high wear resistance, walnut oil gives the duduk surface even greater strength that protects it from the aggressive effects of climate and the environment — humidity, heat, low temperatures. In addition, walnut oil gives the instrument a unique aesthetically beautiful look.

The tool must be stored in a dry, not humid place, while it is undesirable to keep it in a closed and poorly ventilated place for a long time, contact with air is necessary. The same applies to reeds. If the canes of the duduk are stored in some small airtight case or box, then it is advisable to make several small holes on this case so that air can enter there.

If the instrument is not used for several hours, the plates of the cane (mouthpiece) “stick together”; This is expressed in the absence of the necessary gap between them. In this case, the mouthpiece is filled with warm water, thoroughly shaken, closing its back opening with a finger, then pour out the water and hold it for a while in an upright position. Approximately in 10-15 minutes, due to the presence of moisture inside the mouth, the gap at the mouthpiece opens.

Having started the game, you can adjust the instrument's pitch (within a semitone) by moving the regulator (clamp) in the middle part of the mouthpiece; the main thing is not to drag it too much, because the more the regulator is taut, the already it becomes the mouth of the cane and, as a result, the more timbre that is not saturated with overtones.

The modern heritage of the duduk

What unites Martin Scorzese, Ridley Scott, Hans Zimer, Peter Gabriel and Brian May from the legendary group Queen? A person familiar with cinema and interested in music can easily draw a parallel between them, because they all at one time or another collaborated with a unique musician who made the soul of the Armenian people more than anyone else on the world stage for recognition and popularization. This, of course, is about Jivan Gasparyan.
Jivan Gasparyan is an Armenian musician, a living legend of world music, a man who introduced the world to Armenian folklore and duduk music.

Jivan Gasparyan. Source https://www.msk.kp.ru
Jivan Gasparyan. Source https://www.msk.kp.ru

He was born in a small village near Yerevan in the 1928 year. He picked up his first duduk in 6 years. He made his first steps in music on his own - he learned to play the duduk presented to him, just listening to the game of the old masters, without any musical education and base.

At twenty, he performed on the professional stage for the first time. Over the years, his musical career has repeatedly received international awards, including from UNESCO, but he gains world-wide fame only in 1988.

And Brian Eno contributed to this - one of the most talented and innovative musicians of his time, rightfully considered the father of electronic music. During his visit to Moscow, he accidentally heard the play of Jivan Gasparyan and invited him to London.

From this moment a new international stage begins in his musical career, which brought him world fame and introduced the world to Armenian folk music. Jivan's name is becoming known to a wider audience through the soundtrack, on which he worked together with Peter Gabriel for the Martin Scorcese film The Last Temptation of Christ.

Jivan Gasparyan starts touring around the world - he performs together with the Kronos Quartet, Vienna, Yerevan and Los Angeles Symphony Orchestras, tours in Europe and Asia. Performs in New York City and gives a concert in Los Angeles together with the local philharmonic orchestra.

In 1999, he works on music for the film “Sage”, and in 2000. - begins collaboration with Hans Zimmer (Hans Zimmer) on the soundtrack for the film "Gladiator". The ballad “Siretsi, Yares Taran”, on the basis of which this soundtrack was “made”, brought Jivan Gasparyan the Golden Globe Award in 2001.

Here is what Hans Zimmer says about working with him: “I always wanted to write music for Jivan Gasparyan. I think he is one of the most amazing musicians in the world. He creates a one-of-a-kind, unique sound that immediately falls into memory. ”

Returning to his homeland, the musician becomes a professor at the Yerevan Conservatory. Without leaving a touring activity, he begins to teach and releases a lot of famous duduk performers. Among them is his grandson Jivan Gasparyan Jr.

Today we can hear the duduk in a variety of movies: from historical paintings to modern Hollywood blockbusters. Jivan's music can be heard in more than 30 films. Over the past twenty years in the world released a record amount of music recordings duduk. The game on this instrument is learned not only in Armenia, but also in Russia, France, Britain, the USA and many other countries. In the 2005 year, by modern society, the sound of the Armenian duduk has been recognized as a masterpiece of UNESCO World Intangible Heritage.

Even in the modern world, through the centuries the soul of an apricot tree continues to sound.

“The duduk is my shrine. If I didn’t play this instrument, I don’t know what I would become. In 1940, I lost my mother, in 1941, my father went to the front. There were three of us, we grew up alone. Probably, God decided so that I would play the duduk, so that he would save me from all the trials of life, ”the artist says.

Photo in the top provided by https://www.armmuseum.ru