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Instruments

In this category we introduce musical instruments in our shop. We write about our favourite instruments and we present the most exciting new instruments in our shop here.
  • "Music that touches one's innermost soul." Two documentaries report on the Jaw Harp Festival 2006 in Amsterdam and the Duduk in Armenia

    A Duduk Player's Desk

     

    There are two musical documentary films from the film production company Blende39 (Eva Luise Volkmann and Peter Bräunig), located in Magdeburg, Germany. "Mundton" (mouth sound), a portrait of the international jaw harp scene, was filmed as early as 2006 during the Fifth International Jew's Harp Festival in Amsterdam. Now, at the suggestion of the jaw harp and Duduk player Sören Birke, a second film is shot. "Bitter Apricot" is currently still in production. This musical documentary tells the story of the relationship between the world-famous Duduk player Djivan Gasparyan and his grandson, who would like to carry Duduk playing into the next generation. Eva-Luise Volkmann of Blende39 spoke to Helen Hahmann about the motives and the attraction of getting to know these two musical instruments by making two documentary films.

    Eva Luise Volkmann and Peter Bräunig studied journalism and media management, as the filmmaker and jaw harp player Gerd Conradt held a seminar under the heading "Video Poetry" offered at the Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences. When, in 2006, they were offered the opportunity of travelling with Condradt to the International Jew's Harp Festival in Amsterdam to make a documentary about the jaw harp, Volkmann and Bräunig, together with Grit Bemann und Jessica Preuß, hired a small bus and set off. "What impressed us most when we arrived at the festival was that there were people there from all over the world, from a wide variety of cultures, who all played this little instrument which had such a tremendous effect. That the instrument had such a profound effect was something we had not previously been aware of. We did not know that there were so many forms and types of jaw harps in the world. That was such a remote world which had suddenly been transferred to this European context. This method of playing had something primordial about it, something that touched one's innermost soul", recalls Eva-Luise Volkmann, referring to the film shoot in Amsterdam. The film aims to document the current jaw harp scene and the emotions associated with it.

    In "Mundton" many of today's influential protagonists, Tran Quang Hai, Albin Paulus, Anton Bruhin, Sylvain Trias, Luca Recupero, have their say. What is really fascinating is the fact that so many people are portrayed in the film. Sven "Roxi" Otto and Clemens Voigt, the founders of DAN MOI, can also be seen in the film, as can musician Bangalore Rajashekar from the North of India on the Morchang and Steev Kindwald from the USA. According to Eva-Luise Volkmann "The film is very well known in the jaw harp world, although it has still not been shown at festivals," In the meantime "Mundton" can also be viewed online at Vimeo.

    The impressive story of the Duduk virtuoso Djivan Gasparyan and his grandson Djivan Gasparyan Jr. is told in "Bitter Apricot". The film is scheduled for completion in 2016. It is the story of the young Gasparyan, who, in his mid thirties, returned from Los Angeles to Armenia to learn the Duduk from his grandfather. Gasparyan Sr. extends his musical legacy through his grandson. The Blende39 team has been filming this process since 2011. "The story of the film is about Djivan Sr., it is an almost fairy tale story. Djivan Sr. first heard the Duduk played in a silent movie theater in Yerevan when he was six years old. At that time, black and white movies were accompanied by Duduk ensemble music. He was so fascinated and moved by this instrument that he decided to learn the instrument. After the film, he went up to one of the men in the ensemble, Margar Margaryan, and asked him if we could give him a present of an instrument. He actually got an instrument and then began to practice. Margar Margaryan later became Gasparyan's teacher."

    The Duduk Grandseigneur with his grandson: Djivan Gasparyan Jr. & Sr. The Duduk Grandseigneur with his grandson: Djivan Gasparyan Jr. & Sr.

    Eva-Luise Volkmann tells this story knowing the amazing route Gasparyan has taken. "When he was first invited to a music contest in Moscow in the early 1950s, nobody had any idea what exactly a Duduk was. He won this competition, beating 5,000 other entrants, and received the first prize from Stalin: a gold watch. Later, he participated in many more competitions in the Soviet Union, but hardly anyone in the West knew of him ." Only when Brian Eno became aware of the Duduk and Gasparyan in 1989, the passage to the West opened up for the instrument and for its performers. His first album "I will not be sad in this world" appeared on the all Saints Records label in the United Kingdom.

    Convinced that knowledge of the melodies and playing techniques of the Duduk should live on, Gasparyan's grandson has now started to learn to play the Duduk himself. Gasparyan Jr. says, "the sound is your voice. I think that if I could not articulate with my voice, then I could express myself using my instrument, the Duduk. The playing of Duduk comes from inside of you, everything counts: how sayest thou, thy life, thy thoughts. All this plays an important role." Djivan Gasparyan Sr. was born in 1928 and today he still performs in concerts with his grandson. "The deepest concern of Djivan Sr., and that of Djivan Jr. also, is to take this music to the world," observed Eva-Luise Vokmann during shooting. Also on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the genocide on the Armenians in April 2015, she and Peter Bräunig, together with Sören Birke and Rosanna Karapetyan traveled to Yerevan to film and document a concert given by the two Duduk players and thereby to document the social significance of Duduk music for many Armenians worldwide.

    Here is the first teaser of "Bitter Apricot" to be seen on Vimeo.

    And here is the Facebook-Page of BITTER APRICOT

    And here you can read further about Blende39 and their projects:

    Blende39

  • Regarding the origin of the word "duduk"

    Our Duduk Master Maker in Yerevan, Armenia Our Duduk Master Maker in Yerevan, Armenia

    There are various musical instruments, whose word stem corresponds to the term "Duduk". In the countries neighbouring Armenia, several instruments can be found which are similar to the Armenian duduk, such as the Mey, Balaban or Duduki. All these instruments are double reed instruments, similar to an oboe. The sound is generated by double reeds pounding against each other. How does it happen that similar words refer to different musical instruments and what is it that makes the Duduk so unique as an Armenian instrument?

    Where does the word "Duduk" come from? So far it has not been possible to work it out exactly. It is however certain that the term "Duduk" has gained acceptance as an international term for the Armenian national instrument. The Armenian term "Tsiranapogh", which roughly means "apricot flute" or "apricot pipe" is rarely used today and when it is used then only in Armenia. The origins of the word "Duduk" can be traced back either to the Kurdish "düdük", a double reed instrument whose identical design is also to be found in Azerbaijan where it is known as "Balaban" and in Turkey where it is called "Mey". The single-reed Russian wind instrument, "duda", sometimes called "dudka", has a similar word stem, too. The phonetic similarity of the two words in Russian and Turkish is probably accidental.

    In earlier literature, various forms of the term in the Turkish language are used for stopped (closed at the bottom) flutes/pipes. The word stem is found in Eastern Europe, Russia and in the Caucasus and describes flutes, oboes, pipes and bagpipes. Right up to today, this multiplicity of terms continues to cause frequent confusion as to which instrument is exactly meant. The Armenian double reed instrument duduk is often associated with the Caucasus, a region which is home to more than 30 ethnic groups.

    The appearance and playing style of the Armenian Duduk, as it is known today throughout the world, has been shaped by Soviet influences, according to research carried out by the US-American ethnomusicologist Andy Nercessian. This development also distinguishes the Duduk significantly from similar instruments in the region such as the Mey, Balaban or the Georgian Duduki. Nercessian writes: "The playing of a number of duduk unisono together in a folk ensemble is a Soviet invention. Originally, for dancing purposes, the duduk was played as a solo instrument with a duduk drone and the Dhol frame drum." Likewise, the diatonic scale and the notation for the Duduk was introduced during the Soviet era. The Duduk advanced worldwide to an Armenian sound symbol of their history and culture. Musicians such as Djivan Gasparyan, Gevorg Dabaghyan and Lévon Minassian have been largely responsible for the great popularity of this musical instrument.

    Djivan Gaspayan - Apricots from Eden Djivan Gasparyan - Apricots from Eden
    Gevorg Dabaghyan - Miniatures Gevorg Dabaghyan - Miniatures
    Lévon Minassian - Songs from a World Apart Lévon Minassian - Songs from a World Apart

     

  • The Duduk - An Introduction

    DAN MOIs Duduk expert Sven Roxi Otto plays the Duduk DAN MOIs Duduk expert Sven "Roxi" Otto plays the Duduk

    Although the Duduk is well-known as an original Armenian instrument it has long been played all over the world. The Duduk does not only appear in Armenian folk and art music, it is also played more and more as a solo instrument in movies, world music and video game soundscapes.

    The Duduk stands out with its unique sound, which appears sweetly smooth, nasal and melancholic all at the same time. In Armenia, the Duduk is played both at weddings and funerals, a fact that indicates how changeable the moods are that can be accompanied with the instrument. The reed mouth piece, known as the Ghamish, is mainly responsible for the particular sound of the Duduk. In comparison to other double reed instruments, such as the Oboe or the Zurna, the reed of the Duduk mouth piece is longer and broader. That is why the Duduk sounds much softer and similar in sound to a clarinet played in a low pitch.

    Duduk in standard tuning: Tenor A with Ghamish reed Duduk in standard tuning: Tenor A with Ghamish reed

    The Duduk is a diatonic-tuned (major scale) instrument. Most of the instruments are built with 8 holes at the front and one at the back and have a range of a tenth. Playing a chromatic scale is possible with the help of finger techniques. Most commonly, instruments tuned to tone A are being played. Most Armenian musical notations are written for the Tenor A Duduk. The Duduk is also available in other sizes and tunings. There is for instance a Bass Duduk tuned in A for the low-pitched tones. The instruments are between 27 and 55 cm long, the reed excluded. Today the Duduk body is made from the wood of the apricot tree. Apricot wood best supports the unique sound of the Duduk. First the wood is getting boiled for a couple of days and then dried out over a number of years before it is further processed.

    Ghamish, the Duduk's Reed Ghamish, the Duduk's Reed

    The mouthpiece/reed (Ghamish) is manufactured from a reed which in a very elaborate process is flattened on the sides into a double reed (ideal distance approx. 1.5 mm) and can be tightened or loosened by means of a wooden clamp. This allows a minimal correction of the pitch level of 1/4 of a note. The reeds are between 7.5 and 11 cm long and up to about 3 cm wide. The reeds are available in diverse strengths (light, medium and heavy). A wooden cap is part of the mouthpiece, which can be placed on the upper end of the Ghamish, in order to protect the reeds from damage.

    The origins of the duduk have been proven to be in Armenia. The first instruments have been dated to about the year 500 AD. Other sources claim that the duduk already existed for many centuries BC. That the duduk is an instrument that is played by soloists is rather a modern phenomenon. In Armenian music the instruments are traditionally played in duos and in ensembles. An important feature are the roles in the ensemble: there usually is one Duduk played as bourdon/drone and the other plays the melody.

    The worldwide awareness of the Duduk is inter alia the result the large Armenian diaspora. More than three-quarters of Armenians do not live in Armenia. This dramatic circumstance can be traced back to their history, which has been shaped by expulsion and persecution. Regardless of whether they live in Armenia or abroad, the Duduk and its sound connects many Armenians to the culture and history of Armenia. In 2005, the UNESCO declared the duduk and its music to be an object of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

    Short documentation about the Duduk, published by the UNESCO

     

    Andy Nercessian (2001) The duduk and national identity in Armenia

    Several books on the musical and social aspects of the duduk have been published, many of them in the Armenian language. "The duduk and national identity in Armenia" by Andy Nercessian (2001) has been published in English.

     

     

    Dave Tawfik (2013): "The Armenian Duduk: A Complete Guide"

    If you are looking for some good instructions, have a look at "The Armenian Duduk: A Complete Guide" by (Dave Tawfik 2013). This is 164 pages full of information and instructions in English.

     

    Duduk in the DAN MOI Shop

    In the DAN MOI webshop you can find a selection of Duduks in a professional stage-proof quality in several tunings at a really good price-performance-ratio.

    After a long period of testing we finally decided for one certain craftsman who reliably makes great instruments in a steadily high quality.

    Most of the cheap Duduks and Ghamishes you can find on typical internet marketplaces are in a deflating souvernir quality only and are not suited for serious playing.

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