• BITTER APRICOT needs your support

    The team of blende39 needs your support to finish the documentary film BITTER APRICOT. On the crowdfunding site Kickstarter you can support them with your donation. (link here)

    Read here what BITTER APRICOT is about in the words of blende39:

    BITTER APRICOT tells the story of a sound that mesmerizes people all over the world. The power of this music connects the whole nation of Armenians. This unique sound inspires and excites international musicians like Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel or Hans Zimmer. Like them, we’re going to search for the instrument that sparked their imagination: A flute made of apricot wood, called the Duduk (Tzirana Pogh). The man and master behind this instrument is Djivan Gasparyan. The film is a portrait of the artist who first heard the sound of the Duduk as a small boy in an open air silent movie theatre in Yerevan, who travelled through the whole of the Soviet Union as a young man and who impressed Hollywood to become an ambassador for Armenian music in the world. At Gasparyan's side is his grandson, Djivan Junior, who will take over his legacy. We're witnessing a transmission process full of love and knowledge of a tradition that is thousands of years old.

    Our first journey to Armenia began with the search for the secret of the sound of the Duduk. A sound that wasn’t familiar, but stirred something deep inside of us. When we met Djivan in Yerevan we realized that the power of his music would be a spiritual journey into the heart of the Armenian culture. Ever since we feel strongly connected to the Armenian people and their culture. Through their music we experience and understand the Armenian identity and the power of a connecting sound. Our perspective as filmmakers gives us the opportunity to be ambassadors for the music on a visual layer. In April 2015 we went to Armenia the second time. We filmed the concerts by Djivan Sr. & Djivan Jr. in commemoration of the Armenian Genozide at the memorial Tzitzernakaberd and at the Spendiarov opera. We were overwhelmed by the intense mood and energy of the Armenians in this historical moment and grateful that we had the chance to be with Djivan and all those wonderful musicians.

  • Grief, Magic and Bliss: The Duduk as a Deeply Impressiv World Music Instrument

    Duduk played by Roxi, co-founder of DAN MOI Duduk played by Roxi, co-founder of DAN MOI

    The typical sound of the Duduk is often described as contemplative and melancholic. The Armenian double-reed woodwind instrument again and again enchants people with its smooth sounds. Actually the repertoire of sad songs for the Duduk is by far larger than that of hilarious or dancing tunes. But what does sad mean? Which feelings and temper can be expressed with the Duduk? And when does the Duduk sound bright and jovial?

    "The Duduk is the only instrument that makes me cry", said Aram Khachaturian, the Armenian composer. In fact, it is an extraordinary sensibility that speaks from the sounds or the Duduk. In contrast to other forms of oboe instruments, such like Zurna or Shehnai, it seems benignity flows out of the Duduk: subtle, feathery, gauzy and sometimes fragile sounds characterize the instrument. That's the reason why in Armenia the Duduk is more often played on occasions like funkerals that require a gentle, empathetic sound, rather than weddings, birthdays or baptism. The music of two Duduks that is played at funerals is highly regarded in Armenia: One Duduk plays the constant drone. And the other Duduk plays the melody, adorned with melisma, vibrati and slides.

    However, it is said about the Duduk that it is able to express sadness and joy simultaneously. At least a pair of Duduks is set up in nearly every folk ensemble in Armenia. In combination with, for example, with Dhol, Kanun and Kamancheh, the Duduk looses its melancholy and gains lightness. The ensembles play at public events and concerts and often serve as the musical setting for Armenian dance groups. In this context, the Gurdjieff Ensemble is definitely worth listening to:

    It is understood by some Armenians that the Duduk is a 'serious' musical instrument not only because it is played at funerals but also because a certain maturity of its players is required. Not every one could play it, because it requires more skill than other, similar instruments. Such ideas are circulating today around Armenian Duduk players to keep the myth and the unique character of the Duduk alive.

    In the meantime however, lots of people have taken up the instrument including those outside of Armenia. The Duduk is thus perfect for those who enjoy sounds and who enjoy tracing sounds and dedicating time to them. It is an instrument for sound researchers who are searching for yet not heard opportunities for combination with other music instruments and styles of music. It is a tool for acoustic researchers who are looking for possibilities of combinations, yet unheard of, with other musical instruments and musical styles. Without a doubt, the Duduk is a delight for all those who are setting the magic, the invisible in motion, by means of sound and music.

    The Venezuelan musician Pedro Eustache sets the duduk very successfully in a variety of styles, including pop music, classical music and music in films:

    Other musical groups with inspiring new style contexts and range of use of the Duduk are the World Music Ensemble SANS and the Music Project „Sakina & Roye Ma“ with Emrah Oguztürk, a specialist for the double-reed instruments Duduk, Zurna and Mey.

    And for all Spotify users there is a nice Duduk Playlist here.

    Duduk Music Recommendations And here are some Duduk listening recommendations.




  • "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:


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