“Armenian Soundscapes: Duduk. Zurna. Ney” was produced in part to introduce the next generation of duduk masters to the world. In creating programming for this album, one of the goals was to select a diverse set of pieces that reflected a blend of new compositions, innovative arrangements and old fashioned folk music into a comfortable running time of 45 minutes. Taking it a bit further, we sought to add a dash of other folk instruments into the mix such as the zurna and ney in order to take advantage of Harutyun Chkolyan’s multi-instrumental prowess.
Instead of a standard duduk and drone album, the multi-genre approach on “Armenian Soundscapes” was meant in part to emphasize contemporary composers such as Ara Dinkjian (Night Ark), Garegin Arakelyan (Gata Band/Ashugh Bingyol), and Grigor Arakelian. The choice to incorporate Dinkjian’s pieces into this program seemed natural due to the “Anatolian” essence of his pieces. His previous works with Night Ark always featured a signature oud or cumbus sound. We thought it may be interesting to convert his melody lines on “Offering” and “The Long Goodbye” to the duduk and ney respectively. Garegin Arakelyan’s world premiere recording of “Sunrise” harkens listeners back to Peter Gabriel’s groundbreaking work with his “Last Temptation of Christ” soundtrack entitled “Passion”, by incorporating various ethnic instruments with keyboard programming. In sharp contrast, Grigor Arakelian’s world premiere of “Avetis Yet Par” evokes Kronos Quartet-like comparisons in terms of merging an exotic ethnic instrument with a Western style ensemble.
For as much world music fusion that is presented on this album, the core is still Armenian folk music. With that in mind, Harutyun Chkolyan has chosen works by Sayat Nova, Gusan Shahen, and a pair of well known traditional works. He takes a classic approach with improvisational liberties exhibited during the solo sections. The multiple layers of duduk overdubs were meticulously planned and recorded showcasing his creative arrangements. With “Armenian Soundscapes: Duduk. Zurna. Ney.”, Harutyun Chkolyan steps outside the shadows of duduk legend Djivan Gasparian by having crafted a work of true originality.