Music of Armenia

The music of Armenia has its origins in the Armenian Highlands, where people traditionally sang popular folk songs. Armenia has a long musical tradition that was primarily collected and developed by Komitas, a prominent priest and musicologist, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Armenian music has been presented internationally by composers Aram Khachaturian, Alexander Arutiunian, Arno Babadjanian, Karen Kavaleryan as well as by pop musicians and performers such as duduk player Djivan Gasparyan, composer/instrumentalist Ara Gevorgyan, singers Sirusho, Eva Rivas and many others.


Antiquity and the Middle Ages

In the III century. BC. e. the qualitative originality of Armenian music was already formed. Historical information about the pagan rites of ancient Armenians, in particular the art of the Gokhtan singers, gusans and vipasans (narrators) are given in the works of the historians of the century Drevenarmyan Movses Khorenatsi and Favstos Buzand. From the songs of pre-Christian Armenia, excerpts of poetic texts of songs about Ara the Beautiful and the Assyrian Queen Shamirs, about Tsar Artashes, etc., which were performed under musical accompaniment.

After 301, when Great Armenia officially adopted Christianity as a state religion, the foundations for the development of the music of the Armenian Christian church are being created. Armenian Christian music, along with Aramaic, Jewish, Cappadocian, underlies the general Christian musical culture, representing great importance for the study as the musical culture of the country, the first to adopt Christianity as a state religion. Since the end of the IV century, higher education has introduced training in song production and singing, as reported by Agatangelos. At the same time, the Armenian clergy took a negative view of the pagan musical heritage. Thus, for example, in the year 365 the Ashtishat Council issued a decree prohibiting the performance of a song of lamentation during the funeral procession.

The formation of feudal relations played a significant historical role in the further development of ancient Armenian music. Already in the fifth and seventh centuries, new and more complex forms of Armenian folk music, the expansion of the range of its intonations and the renewal of themes were historically conditioned by the appearance of early feudalism. The former art of the gusans continues its development despite the persecution of the church. Although the Armenian professional music was in charge of the church, at the same time, it was strongly influenced by folk art. A huge role for the development of church music was played by the creation in 406 of the Armenian alphabet. The Armenian schools (vardapetaran) taught the theory of music, composition and singing.

It was in the 5th-6th centuries that the first spiritual songs (hymnography) were created, its first authors Mesrop Mashtots, Sahak Partev, John Mandakuni, Stepanos Syunetsi (senior), Komitas Ahtzi and others. The original simplest forms of professional mono music were the melodies of the psalms created on the basis of the musical tradition of the pagan cult. Later ktsurdy developed, later becoming sharakans. Armenian spiritual music of the age borrowed the intonational system of the peasant song. The first musical works – sharakans, appeared in the V century they are clear in their content and laconic form, their melodies and texts are simple, mostly small in volume. In the same century, the voices are systematized. Over time, sharakans were created with more complex concepts, a complex rhythm and a developed intonation foundation. The diversity of these works consisted in songs Gandza and Avetisov, Patarag and other types of professional spiritual monodic music. Each of the species was distinguished by its genre features. If the systematization of the voices was carried out in the fifth century, then in the 7th century Barchs Tchon compiled the first collection of sharakans – “Cheonter Sharakhnots”. Of the hymnographers of the 7th century, the Catholicos of Saak Dzoraporetsi is also known. The second systematization of the voices was made by Stepanos Syunetsi in the first half of the VIII century. The latter introduced the canon in church music. A new achievement in the history of ancient Armenian music becomes invention in VIII-IX centuries system ekfoneticheskoy and Musical Notation – Armenian neumes – khazzes. It was originally associated with the name of Syunetsi. The most ancient manuscript with Khazi dates back to the 9th century. In general, more than 2 thousand manuscripts from the Khazamai were preserved. The high musical culture of ancient Armenia is evidenced by the works of theorists David Anakhta(V-VI centuries), David Kerakan (Grammar) (VI century), Stepanos Syunetsi, etc., which dealt with questions of musical aesthetics, developed the doctrine of harmony, sound, etc.. Already in the early Middle Ages, the theory of acoustics was developed in Armenia.

Armenian music attains considerable development in the era of developed feudalism, in the X – XIII centuries. This is facilitated by the restoration in the middle of the IX century of the Armenian national statehood. In the 10th century a new direction of professional mono music was created – Tag. Tagi were major secular or spiritual vocal pieces of dramatic or epic as well as lyrical-contemplative character. These works originated in the Hussan as well as peasant musical creativity. The most prominent authors of the tags are Grigor Narekatsi (10th century), Khachatur Taronatsi (12th century) and others. The humanistic ideas of the Armenian Renaissance are reflected both in creativityTagov and in the epic ” Sasuntsi David “, which finally evolves to the IX-X centuries. The main development of musical culture of Armenia X-XI centuries is connected with the creativity of tags.

Ancient Armenian musical notation
According to the author of the 5th century Lazar Parpetsi, Armenians originally used the letters of the alphabet to fix music. Ancient Armenian musical notation – Khazy, arose in the VIII-IX centuries. The initiator of their creation was allegedly Stepanos Syunetsi. Since the XII century, it has also developed in Cilicia, where Nerses Shnorali, Grigor Khul (XII century), Gevorg Skevrazi (XIII century), etc., improved the technology of the Khazov system and the performance interpretation of its signs. There are more than 40 basic and up to 20 or 30 auxiliary and also set of derivative signs. Hazes are divided into three main categories. In addition, the Armenian nevmy differed from the paleo-Byzantine nehvmennogo letters also with its graphical outline, names and the relationship of signs. A huge number of voluminous handwritten volumes containing chass records of medieval secular and spiritual works have been preserved. Manuscripts with an eccentric notation from the 9th century are known.

Genres and characteristics of ancient Armenian music

Gusan music
Hussans are Armenian folk singers. Their work is exclusively secular. In the pre-Christian Armenia in the Hellenistic era, the ghosans initially served in the temple of the goddess Gisane, participated in farcical and satirical representations. The Hussan music originated from the sources of the vipassans of the epoch of slave-owning Armenia. With the period of developed feudalism arose gusans and vardzaki. Hussan songs are reported by ancient Armenian authors of the 5th century Agatangelos, Favstos Buzand, Movses Khorenatsi, Yeghishe, etc.. With the accompaniment of musical instruments, the folk singers of the gusans performed songs mainly at feasts, weddings, etc.. After 301 the Armenian church persecuted the gusans. Armenian historian Favstos Buzand, who lived at the turn of the IV-V centuries, describing the events of the IV century, writes:

Once they were in Taron land, in the church avash of Ashtishat, where the church was first built by their great-grandfather Grigory. Both brothers Pap and Atanagines came to this village. Strongly drunk, they began to mock the temple of God; two brothers entered the bishop’s quarters, where they drank wine with prostitutes, singers, dancers, and gusans komorohami.

Ancient Gusan art existed until the XV – XVI century. Famous poets-gosans of this time Grigor Khlatetsi and Naapet Kuchak are the author of works known as “ayrens”.

Sharakan is a spiritual hymn, hymnography. A large number of sharakans of the V – XV centuries have survived. Ancient Armenian spiritual music consists of four main genres – ksurd (troparia), katsurd (kondak), canon and tag. Sharakans are a synthesis of ancient Armenian culture, in particular poetry, music and professional song-making. Already in the 7th century, Barsegh Tchon, on the instructions of the Catholicos Nerses, compiled a collection of “Sharaknots”. According to Kirakos Ganzaketsi ” [By that time] there were so many canonical church songs in Armenia that the singers of one diocese did not know [the chants] another. “.

The centuries-old art of sharakans has always been heavily influenced by secular music and poetry, and for about a thousand years it has undergone a significant evolution. The main verse size of the texts of the sharakans is a complex four- legged iambic (4 + 4 + 4 + 4). There are other sizes, among which the four-legged anapaest (3 + 3 + 3 + 3) are more common. The music of the sharakas belongs to the principle of stropicity. The sharakans were composed as integral musical and poetic works.

Tagi, like sharakans, was also a synthesis of musical and poetic art. Tagi is a kind of genre of professional mono music. They were relatively voluminous monodyas, which, with their content and melody, resemble the vocal and instrumental arias of subsequent eras. There are spiritual and secular tags. The former are more voluminous than secular ones. Tag, as a musical genre, especially developed since the tenth century, mainly thanks to Grigor Narekatsi. Spiritual tags, unlike the sharakans, were not canonical songs, during the celebration and ceremony were performed to give this event a greater solemnity. Secular Tagthe greatest development is achieved in the work of Frick (XIII century.). From late medieval authors tags are best known as Hovhannes Tlkurantsi, Mkrtich Nagash, Minas Tohattsi, Petros Kapantsi, some of whose works have been preserved with hazami. One of the most famous secular tags – “Krunk” (Crane), created in the late Middle Ages, has been preserved in the texts of the XVII century. Among the authors of late medieval religious tags and Gandza best known Arakel Syunetsi, Matteos Dzhugaetsi, Grigor Hlatetsi, Arakel Bagishetsi and others. The oldest printed collection of secular tags was published in Venice in 1513. The lastTagat was Naapet Kuchak, who first called himself Ashug

17-18 centuries
One of the outstanding performers tags was Petros Kapantsi. His work is rooted in the traditions of the Armenian musical culture of developed feudalism. In this era, the number of musicians and performers is also increasing. At the same time, Armenian scholars of the 17th and 18th centuries continue to study the musical heritage of medieval manuscripts and manuscripts. Prominent music theorists of the time were Avetik Pagtasaryan, Zennes-Pogos, Khachatur Erzrumtsi and Mkhitar Sebastatsi. Together with the study of ancient Armenian music, Grigor Dpir Gapaskalyan (the author of four musicological works) is trying to create a new system of chazes.

Ashug music
Ashug music is also a synthesis of musical and literary (poetry) culture arose in the middle of the XVI century . Ashugs – folk singers-poets, play a significant role in the history of Armenian music. The special development of the ashug art begins in the 17th century. Prominent Armenian ashugs XVII – XVIII centuries – Egaz, Hum Arutinov, Bagher son Lazarus, et al.. Ashug music is based on centuries-old traditions of folk art. Having learned the traditions of medieval tagasatsov, Armenian ashugs create original tunes for their works. From the second half of the XIX centuryCenturies these tunes were recorded by European musical notation. The lyrics of these songs are dedicated to love, social, satirical and other topics. Despite the individuality of this creativity, ashug art is inherent in common features. Ashug melody is more emotional, unfolded in form and bending by rhythm. Singing was accompanied by accompaniment on the saz or kemanche. The basic musical instruments of ashugs are stringed-plucked – saz and chongur. The most outstanding Armenian ashugs of the XVII-XVIII centuries are Ovnatan Nagash, Bagdasar Dhir and Sayat Nova. In the 18th century, the art of ashugs “absorbs” the creativity of the Tagasans.

19 century

The largest Armenian ashugs of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were Jivani, Shirin, Sheram, Avasi. Since the 1870’s. Armenian musicians S. Amatuni, K. Kara-Murza, N. Tigranyan, Komitas and others began to collect and record folk songs (since 1913 they also recorded devices). The greatest merit in this field belongs to Komitas, who published more than 2,000 folk songs. In the last quarter of the 19th century, Kara-Murza created more than 90 Armenian folk choirs in different parts of Transcaucasia and southern Russia, thus spreading the polyphony in Armenian everyday life. By the beginning of the 20th century, the work of kemanchist Sasha Oganeshashvili (Alexander Arshakovich Ohanian) is relevant.

20 century
At the end of 1920, Soviet power was established in the Republic of Armenia. In 1923 the Yerevan Music Studio (organized in 1921) was transformed into the Yerevan State Conservatory. In the next year of 1924 the Symphony Orchestra of the Yerevan State Conservatory is organized, among the first conductors of which were Alexander Spendiarov and Alexander Melik-Pashayev. Then in Alexandropol with the participation of the best musicians of the republic were put Russian and West European operas and operettas. Several Armenian students of the Moscow Conservatory in 1925founded a quartet, which was later named after Komitas. In the 1920s. In the development of Armenian music, an important role was played by the Armenian musical collective at the House of Culture of Soviet Armenia in Moscow, as well as the music sections of the Houses of Armenian Art in Tbilisi and Baku. Already from 1927, the Yerevan Conservatory has an opera class, which in 1930 was transformed into an opera studio. In the 1930s. a number of new musical and educational institutions were opened in Armenia. In 1932 the Armenian Philharmonic was established in Yerevan. Also of great historical importance was the opening in 1933 of the Armenian Opera and Ballet Theater, and the foundation a year earlier of the Union of Composers of Soviet Armenia. In the 1920s. continues creative activity Spendiarov – in 1930, his opera “Almast” was staged, at which time the composer wrote “Erevan etudes” for the symphony orchestra., the vocal cycles are created by R. Melikyan (“Zmrukhty” and “Zar-var”).

In the 1930’s. begins active creative activity of one of the greatest composers of the XX century – Aram Khachaturian. Created in the 1930s, early 1940s. his first symphony (1934), a concert for piano and orchestra (1936), a symphonic poem with a choir (1938), the first Armenian ballet “Happiness” (1939), a concerto for violin and orchestra (1940), become outstanding works not only Armenian but also world music. In the 1930s. worked composer A. Stepanyan, the author of the satirical opera The Brave Nazar (post 1935), the epic opera Sasuntsi David (op., 1936). A.Maylan (Safa), A. Ayvazyan (“TAPARNIKOS”), L.Hoja-Einat, SAA.Balasanyan and others work in the opera genre, A. Ter-Ghevondian (“The Bride of Fire” in the ballet genre), “Anait”), S. Barkhudaryan (“Narine”) and others.

In the 1930s. works are created for various instruments in the chamber-instrumental genre, among them are plays for A. Khachatryan’s violin, A. Stepanyan’s quartets, etc. A romance is developing. In this genre, the work of A. Isahakian was important. The mass song continues to develop, where M. Mirzayan, K. Zakaryan, M. Mazmanyan, B. Talyan and others are gaining popularity. A.Kocharyan, etc., also enjoys great popularity with folk songs.

In the further development of Armenian music, the Great Patriotic War played its role. In these years, significant songs are being sung about the heroism of the people. Popularity was gained in the mass and variety songs and marches of A. Khachaturian, G. Yeghiazaryan, M. Mirzayan, A. Ayvazyan, A. Merangulyan, E. Sagaruni, K. O. Zakaryan, etc. In the classical-symphonic genre was written the 2nd A. Khachaturian’s symphony, A. Stepanyan’s 1st symphony, G. Egiazaryan’s “Armenia” poem, T. Ter-Martirosyan’s works, etc. In the opera genre there are the operas “David-bek” by A. Tigranyan, “Namus” by L. Hodge A.Yainatova, in the ballet genre – “Gayane” A. Khachaturyan, etc.

Folk music
Armenians have had a long tradition of folk music from the antiquity. Under Soviet domination, Armenian folk music was taught in state-sponsored conservatoires. Instruments played include qamancha (similar to violin), kanun (dulcimer), dhol (double-headed hand drum, see davul), oud (lute), duduk, zurna, blul (ney), shvi and to a lesser degree saz. Other instruments are often used such as violin and clarinet. The duduk is Armenia’s national instrument, and among its well-known performers are Margar Margarian, Levon Madoyan, Saro Danielian, Vatche Hovsepian, Gevorg Dabaghyan and Yeghish Manoukian, as well as Armenia’s most famous duduk player, Djivan Gasparyan.

Earlier in Armenian history, instruments like the kamancha were played by popular, travelling musicians called ashoughs. Sayat Nova, an 18th-century Ashough, is revered in Armenia. Performers such as Armenak Shahmuradian, Vagharshak Sahakian, Norayr Mnatsakanyan, Hovhannes Badalyan, Hayrik Muradyan, Raffi Hovhannisyan, Papin Poghosian, and Hamlet Gevorgyan have been famous in Armenia and are still acclaimed. The most notable female vocalists in the Armenian folk genre have been Araksia Gyulzadyan, Ophelia Hambardzumyan, Varduhi Khachatrian, Valya Samvelyan, Rima Saribekyan, Susanna Safarian, Manik Grigoryan, and Flora Martirosian.

Armenian emigrants from other parts of the Middle East settled in various countries, especially in the California Central Valley, and the second- and third-generation have kept their folk traditions alive, such as Richard Hagopian, a famous oud-player. Another oud player, John Berberian, is noted in particular for his fusions of traditional music with jazz and rock in the 1960s. From Lebanon and Syria, George Tutunjian, Karnig Sarkissian and others performed Armenian Revolutionary Songs which quickly became popular among the Armenian Diaspora, notably ARF supporters. In Tehran Iran the folk music of the Armenian community is characterized by the work of Nikol Galanderian (1881–1946) and the Goghtan choir.

Other Armenian musicians include Ara Topouzian who performs on the kanun and VANArmenya, who sings both folk, children’s and patriotic songs, performs on keyboards, and promotes the music of “the other Gomidas,” Grikor Mirzaian.

There are several folk ensembles from Armenia, the Shoghaken Folk Ensemble, founded in 1995 in Yerevan, has worldwide popularity, and others such as the Arev Armenian Folk Ensemble.

Arto Tunçboyacıyan is a well known Turkish musician of Armenian descent, who is famous in Turkey and worldwide, and currently has his own jazz club in Yerevan, Armenia. He was the founder of the Armenian Navy Band.

Ruben Hakobyan (Ruben Sasuntsi) is a well recognized Armenian ethnographic and patriotic folk singer who has achieved widespread national recognition due to his devotion to Armenian folk music and exceptional talent.

Classical music
Hambardzum Limonjyan in 1813 – 1815 years. creates a new Armenian notation. At the same time, samples of both musical folklore and spiritual music were recorded, in particular N. Tashchyan recorded 3 volumes of works of ancient Armenian spiritual music. A new upsurge of musical culture begins in the second half of the same century, conditioned, inter alia, by national liberation ideas. Both in Eastern and Western Armenia and in Turkey in general, the Armenian musical and social life is reviving. Numerous songs are published (“National Songbook of Armenians” by Rafael Patkanyan, 1856, Petersburg), musical societies are being created.Nikogayos Tashchyan (1878), Venetian mkhitarists (1882), etc. create textbooks on the theory of music and musical literacy. An important cultural achievement of time is the appearance of the Armenian musical periodicals. In 1857, Gabriel Yeranyan and A. Hovhannisyan published the musical magazine “Knar Arevelian” (“Eastern Lira”), which since 1861 is published under the new name “Knar Aikakan” (” Armenian Lira “). Since 1879, the magazine “Nvagk Aikakank” (“Armenian Songs”) by E. Tyntesyan. Many major Armenian periodicals publish articles on music. An important role in the development of the Armenian musical culture was played by the Lazarevsky Institute and also by the Nersesyan and Gevorg Seminary, and to some extent by the School of the Russian Musical Society in Tiflis. Since the middle of the XIX century, concert life has been formed. In addition to creating associations of ashugs, performers on duduk, kamancha, folk singers, etc., the first musicians graduating from both Russian and Western conservatories appear. At the same time, instrumental ensembles and symphony orchestras are created, among which the most significant was Sinanyan’s Orchestra (1861-1896). In the works of E. Tntesyan, N. Tashchyan, GO Korganov, T. Chukhadzhyan and G. Eranyan genres of choral and solo songs, romance develop, Chukhajyan and Korganov also have instrumental music. Since the 1860’s. songs of patriotic content continue to be created. It was in the second half of the nineteenth century that a new national composer school arose.

The historical significance was the establishment of Tigran Chuhadzhyanom in 1868 the first Armenian National Opera ” Arshak II of ». In 1891, Chukhajyan created the opera ” Zemira “, in 1897 – “Indiana”. In the 1870 ‘s. he creates 3 operettas, among which the most popular is Leblebigi (1875). Together with Serovbe Benclany, Chukhadzhyan organizes the first in the Middle East constantly operating professional operetta troupe.

Since the 1880 ‘s. in Armenian classical music, a new movement for the collection and processing of ancient folk songs by professional composers begins. Among these composers were Makar Ekmalyan, Christopher Kara-Murza and Nikogayos Tigranyan. From this period one of the most important figures in the history of Armenian music, Komitas, started his career, who played a key role in the new revival of the national-original musical style. His multilateral activities determined the way of further development of all Armenian music of subsequent eras. Creativity of Alexander Spendiarova new history of the Armenian symphony and vocal and symphonic music begins (the suites “Crimean sketches” – 1903 and 1912, the symphonic picture “Three Palms” – 1905, etc.). Romanos Melikyan works mainly in the field of romance. The production of the opera “Anush” by Armen Tigranyan in 1912 opens a new stylistic trend in the Armenian musical theater. The work is based on the folk music language. In the same year of 1912 Azat Manukyan created the first Armenian children’s opera “The End of Evil”. At the beginning of the 20th century Grigor Syuni, S. V. Barkhudaryan, A. S. Mailyan, A. G. Ter-Ghevondyan, D. A. Kazaryan, E. Baghdasaryan, M. Mirzayan started their creative activity. National musicology of the era, the main representatives of which were Komitas, VD Korganov, E. Tntesyan, mainly due to the comprehension of folk and medieval professional music, national musical traditions and identity. Along with Komitas, S. Melikyan, who organized the Armenian Musical Society in 1912, was also engaged in the collection of folk music. In 1919, the Society for the Theorists of Armenian Music was established in Tiflis.

During this period vocal creativity developed vigorously. The singers Nadezhda Papayan, Tigran Nalbandyan, Armenak Shahmuradyan (the Grand opera soloist), Margarit Babayan, Beglar Amirdzhan, Konstantin, Hovhannes, Egine, Nune and Maria Korganov performed at different stages of Russia and Europe. Fruitful musical activity was developed by pianists Stepan Elmasyan, Karl Mikuli, sisters Adamyan, conductor Alexander Aslanov (1912-1918 led the Mariinsky Theater Orchestra), violinists David Davtyan and Hovhannes (Ivan) Nalbandian.

Many Armenian composers, musicians, conductors, forced to emigrate as a result of the genocide of the Armenian people from Ottoman Turkey, developed a national musical culture in different countries of the world.

Religious music
Armenian chant, composed in one of eight modes, is the most common kind of religious music in Armenia. It is written in khaz, a form of indigenous musical notation. Many of these chants are ancient in origin, extending to pre-Christian times, while others are relatively modern, including several composed by Saint Mesrop Mashtots, who re-introduced the Armenian alphabet. Some of the best performers of these chants or sharakans, are at the Holy Cathedral of Etchmiadzin, and include the late soprano Lusine Zakaryan.

Armenian religious music remained liturgical until Komitas Vardapet introduced polyphony in the end of the 19th century. Apart from his contribution to religious music, Komitas may be considered the founder of modern classical Armenian music. From 1899 to 1910, he travelled through the Armenian highlands and collected more than 3,000 folk tunes many of which he harmonized and transformed into Lieder.

American composer Daniel Decker has achieved critical acclaim for his collaborations with Armenian composer Ara Gevorgian. “Noah’s Prayer” (originally entitled “Mush”) chronicles Noah’s journey to Mount Ararat. “Noah’s Prayer” was debuted in 2002 in Sardarapat, Armenia to celebrate Armenian Independence day in the presence of Armenian President Robert Kocharyan, and His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians (head of the Armenian Apostolic Church). A second collaboration called “Adana” tells the story of the Armenian Genocide, during which soldiers of the Ottoman Empire forced 1.5 million Armenians into starvation, torture and extermination. As with their first collaboration, Decker wrote the song’s epic lyrics to complement the musical landscape of Ara Gevorgian. Cross Rhythms, Europe’s leading religious magazine and web portal said of “Adana”, “seldom has a disaster of untold suffering produced such a magnificent piece of art.”

The first jazz-band of Yerevan was founded in 1936. Soviet Jazz was developed by Armenians such as Artemi Ayvazyan, who founded the Armenian State Estrada Orchestra in 1938. The conventional performers in the vocal genre have been: Georgi Minasian, Artashes Avetyan, and Levon Sevan. There are Jazz influenced singers who are popular in Armenia such as Aramo.

Popular music

Pop music
Armenian traditional songs can be associated with famous performers such as Rouben Matevosian, Ophelia Hambardzumyan, Varduhi Khachatrian, and Papin Poghosian. In pop music, Suzan Yakar and Udi Hrant Kenkulian were famous cabaret singers in Turkey during the 1920s and 1930s. Other female representatives of modern Armenian pop music include Bella Darbinyan, Raisa Mkrtchyan, and the more contemporary vocal performers such as Elvina Makaryan, Erna Yuzbashian, Nadezhda Sargsian, Zara Tonikyan, Suzan Margaryan, Tatevik Hovhannisyan. The Armenian male pop performers include Rouben Hakhverdian and in the diaspora are Adiss Harmandian, Paul Baghdadlian, Forsh.

Rabiz music
Rabiz is a term which is often used to refer to genre of Armenian popular music. Rabiz music is distinguished by lyrics and music with elements of Armenian folk music.

Despite wide use the term Rabiz is not clearly defined. According to some sources it stems from Russian phrase “рабочее исскуство”(raboche’e iskustvo) used during Soviet times, literally meaning “labour’s art”. But even in this case it lost initial meaning. Though large group of singers and their listeners refer to Rabiz as a music genre, the term is also used widely to refer to a lifestyle. Rabiz refers not only to taste of music, but also to fashion and lifestyle. Although the meaning of this use is largely dependent on personal taste and/or musical preferences of the speaker.

It is listened widely throughout the youth of Armenians in Los Angeles, Armenia, and Russia called rabiz. Rabiz music is music mostly played by musicians such as Tatoul Avoyan and Hayko Ghevondyan. It has taken the face of Armenian music due to its catchy beats and dance type music. Rabiz music is mostly about love or partying called “kef” but also about love to family or Armenia.

The musical language of the rabiz, being a blend of several musical traditions (primarily Armenian national, ashug. [bard-style] and Eastern in the style of the makam [classical court music]), is marked by delicate Eastern harmony and an abundance of melisinas, which allow the musician to achieve the desired effect by purely musical means.

Rabiz music has recently seen unexpected success in Turkey, with the hit “Mi Gna” by Super Sako and Hayko Ghevondyan (also known as Spitakci Hayko) hitting #1 on a Shazam Top 100 list and its video garnering over 120M views on YouTube as of September 14, 2017. This success is thought to be a result of the similarity between Armenian and Turkish rhythms and melodies.

Among the rock bands of the old generation were the “Apostles” of Arthur Meschian, “Vostan Hayots”, “Ayas” and Arevatsaq. Interest in young rock bands as Sard, Bambir 2 is increasing, especially after videos for their new songs were shown on local television. Some groups such as Road Movie, Dogma remain in underground, playing concerts in rock clubs.

One of the most popular Alternative Metal bands in the United States is System of a Down, formed by Daron Malakian, Serj Tankian, Shavo Odadjian and John Dolmayan, all of them of Armenian descent. Serj Tankian has released several solo albums with political and socially conscious content. In addition, the most popular Alternative Rock band in the world from Armenia is The Beautified Project. Since its formation the band has won several awards in Armenia, United States and Moscow and has been aired by international channels such as MTV, BBC, PMC, KCAL, etc. The band has played concerts in Armenia, UK, Austria, Germany, France, Russia and Georgia.

Hip-Hop music in Armenia is gradually having notoriety amongst the youth. One of the notable bands was Hay Tgheq (Հայ տղեք) founded in 2001. Later band members Misho and HT Hayko started their own solo careers. One notable rapper in the United States is R-Mean from Glendale, California. R-Mean gained popularity amongst the Armenian Community with the song Open Wounds which commemorates the Armenian Genocide and started a movement “Open Wounds 1915”. The song was recently released with a new video and gained over 260.000 views on YouTube alone. R-Mean has also made songs with multiplatinum rapper Game and Slaughterhouse members Crooked I and Joe Budden. Other Hip-Hop groups were formed in Germany such as Armenios, which was founded in Germany by A-Shot, ArmoX & 15Volt, and Super Sako in the United States.

Source from Wikipedia