Armenia - where music melts in the mountains
Updated: Jun 30, 2019
Picture this. You are in a lush green valley overlooking a surreal water body with a snow-capped mountain at the backdrop. Mystic patchy clouds engulf the mountain peaks with sound of haunting duduk and folklore soothing your ears. That may be Armenia for you.
In the beginning
Before I get into my story of what I do in Armenia, I think it would be prudent to share some of the facts about this little country which may not be too popular and known in the conventional sense of tourist attractions.
After 150 days afloat on the water, Noah, his family and all the animals heard a loud crunch as the ark hit the
dry land. They had arrived on a little island, which, as the water receded, turned out not to be an island at all, but the tip of an immense mountain. The mountain was called Ararat, and it towered high over a rocky landscape. Legend tells that Noah’s great grandson, Hayk, stayed put in this stony land and founded Armenia. It would then become the first Christian nation on earth.
Attractions in Armenia
I stay in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia and it is surrounded by a range of modest-sized peaks and Ararat stands high in the sky in a brilliant whiteness, wildly out of proportion to everything else around it. I would say that it’s really hypnotic in its vastness. Ararat stalks visitors
to Yerevan, which, while not exactly conventionally beautiful, is an energetic city with cafe-lined streets and a sublime view of Ararat. Yes, you are right in noticing that I keep coming back to Ararat again and again - that’s
because as I realise from my friends and colleagues here, Ararat, in some sense, is really a way of living here and is a key to understanding this ancient country. There are particularly two exquisite monasteries in the mountains, Novarank and Khor Virap, which I paid visits to in two separate instances. I must mention this breath-taking cable car ride, all side open and this is called Tsaghkadzor. (yea I know that’s a mouthful). You must not miss this if you want to experience the landscape from the top and yes, be close to the mountains.
This country is surrounded by Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia and little bit of Iran. There is neither any coastline in Armenia nor is there easy access to any sea. However, there is a serene lake which I heard that locals head for when boredom sets in and that is Lake Sevan, known to some as “Armenian ocean”. But without having to hit any boredom on mine, I had visited this lake several times just to find some extra inspiration for my creations.
Talking about Lake Sevan, I remember my tryst with the famous Armenian cognac and the brand name is
Ararat too. One of my hot favourite apart from Armenian apricot vodka. Armenian sherry wine is special for me too which is made of locally produced grape species.
I am a professional musician and traveller by heart. I'm originally from Kolkata, India. My choice to stay and work with music here in Armenia is mainly due to the blending of the Philharmonic and Armenian folk influence woven with the Duduk texture. Our ethno-fusion band Gharana is now an Indo-Armenian band where I play ethnic guitar and lead vocals, Arsen in Duduk and Shvi, Nelly in keyboard and Eduard in percussions.
Some of the popular musical instruments in Armenia are Qamancha (similar to violin), Kanun (dulcimer), Dohl (double-headed hand drum), Duduk, Zurna, Blul (ney), Shvi, Saz. Duduk is Armenia's national instrument.
Our music is precisely a unification of various cultures resulting in a fusion presentation. Touching on the acoustics of the Armenian Folk Instruments, with a unique blend of the Ethnic Guitar, it is influenced by the magical depth of the Indian Ragas. Gharana’s researched work has a diversified taste laden with Duduk-Cajon combis, Shvi-Keys-Dohl recitals, breathtaking Sawal-Jawabs & Jugalbandis with expressive Classic vocals. This ethno-fusion genre is enjoyed by many here and we are fortunate to bag about 4-5 concert invitations weekly.
The sense of Art & Culture in Armenia is very deep and authentic. Almost every family has 1 or 2 music
students or musicians or teachers. The music of Armenia has its origins in the Armenian Highlands, where people traditionally sang popular folk songs.
Armenian dance heritage has been considered one of the oldest and most varied in its respective region. From the fifth to the third millennia B.C., in the higher regions of Armenia, the land of Ararat, there are rock paintings of scenes of country dancing. These dances were probably accompanied by certain kinds of songs or musical instruments.
As my traveller avatar, I also manage Culture Globe, a multinational organization headquartered in Yerevan. We offer fantastic tour packages and several other travel services in Armenia. Culture Globe fosters and enhances worldwide awareness on ancient Armenian heritage, customized to the interests and expectations of tourists, students and artists.
Come and visit Armenia. It is truly an ancient country and is known as “Photographers paradise” among the travellers and highly ranked by National Geographic channel. I will ensure that you are in the best hands in terms of hospitality and all travel services. You are also welcome to stop by in our live gigs if there is something on those dates.
See you in Yerevan then!