Showing posts with label Duduk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Duduk. Show all posts

Saturday, November 18, 2017

ARMENIAN MUSIC and Its Impact on the Armenian Culture

Armenian folk musicians
Armenian folk musicians - (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The rich culture of Armenia is a veritable collage of different elements that are embedded finely and woven intricately. One of the most important elements, tying the people of Armenia in one common thread, is its music. Armenian music has its own unique flavor, yet it is perfectly blended with the neighboring countries like Russia, Georgia, and Iran. Many people find a few of similarities of Armenian music with the Middle East and Mediterranean region as well.

Today, the Armenian music has a distinct style of its own. It encompasses the old and traditional tunes in unison with the modern and contemporary music. Therefore, the rich heritage of the music has been passed over to the younger generation, who is beautifully experimenting with the modern music alongside the classical music.

The most talked about traditional folk music is Rabiz. It usually means a genre of Armenian folk music. However, Rabiz music slowly was deteriorated due to lack of good lyrics and it is almost deformed to the extent it found semblance with Turkey and Arab music.

The Armenian tunes have a strong classical base. There are many noted musicians who have made it very popular. The renowned and noted classical musician Jivan Gasparyan has promoted duduk music to almost all the countries including USA, UK, and European countries. It Jivan Gasparyan's music tells the history of the Armenian folks, their struggles and sufferings without uttering a single word. So, this is a great way to reliving the history and telling the younger generation about the sufferings and sorrows of the Armenian folks.

There are many Armenian videos available that depict the infamous Armenian genocide. The Turkish government massacred many Armenians living in the Ottoman region. As many as 1.5 million Armenians were killed and the rest of them had to leave their country. Many of them took refuge in the USA. The main reason cited for this genocide by many people is that Turk rulers considered Armenians, who professed Christianity through their Christian music and Church music, as a potential threat to Turkey. Even, the Armenian Diaspora news Armenian videos are available.

The other most important thing that has given Armenians recognition is the Armenian funny videos. There are various television shows in the USA that include Armenian funny videos. Some popular comedy shows are also available as funny videos. Kargin is the most popular series available on the Internet today.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Basic Info For MEY Or DUDUK Including Setup

Duduk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Mey and Duduk are two closely related instruments of the double reed family. Perhaps best known in America are the duduk performances on the soundtrack to "The Last Temptation of Christ", where the mournful and plaintive tone of the duduk is used to great effect.

The Mey is the Turkish name, Duduk the Armenian term, for an ancient woodwind instrument that also includes the Balaban of Central Asia and the Chinese Guan among its varieties. The essential feature is a short cylindrical tube with 7 or more fingerholes and one thumbhole coupled to a very large flattened grass reed, with some sort of adjustable "bridle" affixed to the reed. Even though it is sounded with what looks like an inordinately large zurna (sorna, mizmar, raita, suona, shenai, shawm, etc.) reed, inviting classification in the oboe family, the double reed in question behaves more like a clarinet, in that unlike the zurna and other early and folk oboes, the mey/duduk is capable of dynamic shadings from a whispered pianissimo to a full forte- although it is not capable of the blasting fortissimo of the folk oboes, allowing the mey/duduk to be used indoors in intimate situations. It also is a significant voice in the Armenian orchestra, carrying significant melodic material. Several sizes are found, tube lengths ranging from 6 or 7 inches to over 16 inches.

Again acting like the clarinet, the cylindrical tube and reed function as a tube closed at one end, and thus play an octave lower than one would expect for a short tube. Bora Ozkok referred to the Turkish mey as the "grandfather of the bassoon", although the clarinet is a better analog. Indeed Turkish clarinet style is heavily based on the older styles of mey playing.

The basic 7 hole + thumbhole fingering is also the same as that of the zurna family; that is, it produces roughly a major scale plus one note above, the range of a ninth. "Roughly" a major scale because it produces a natural scale, not a tempered one, although the lip can bend a note enough to play any interval, plus half-holing is also used to fill in the many shadings of pitch used in Oriental musical systems. On the rarer models with more than 7 fingerholes, the additional holes are located at the lower end of the tube.

It is difficult to give a definitive pitch of the various sizes of mey or duduk as the same instrument may play as much as a whole step apart with different reeds. One can only be precise about the pitch of a specific reed and tube combination.


The following are some hints for setting up your mey or duduk:

First, the reed, although large, only goes in the mouth a short distance, something like a half inch more or less. The lips may be loosely drawn over the teeth, or even slightly forward as if saying the German (or Turkish) vowel "Y". Do not use your teeth on the reed.

The reed must be wet; if the tip is closed it must be soaked until open. However, if the tip is too open, it will be almost impossible to play, so adjust the bridle to close the tip more. If this doesn't work, wet the reed and carefully press the tip of the reed closed; a gentle clamp of some sort, even a lightly sprung open paper clip will help.

The reed must fit the socket in the upper end of the mey/duduk. If it is too large as is often the case, gentle sanding or scraping on the base of the reed will adjust the size to match the socket. Wrapping the base of the reed with a bit of waxed dental floss or waxed hemp thread makes the fit exact and airtight, and minimizes the danger of the reed being accidentally knocked loose while playing. Waxed floss or hemp is used in a larger amount to fit the smaller reed to a larger socket, if that be the case.

The reed must be free of cracks; the only exception is if the crack is directly along the crease dividing the two sided of the reed. I have played reeds with a split there and they continued to play well. It is notable that modern oboe, bassoon, shawm, bombarde and bagpipe chanter reed are made from two pieces of cane folded over. Thus the side-split mey or duduk reed would work, acting as if it was made in two parts like the modern cane reeds.

An emergency repair can sometimes (and I mean SOME time only- not always!) be effected on a split reed by using Super glue; this is only a temporary solution and the reed should be replaced as soon as possible. Obviously one should be very sure the glue is dry before attempting to play the reed.

In many cases the reed must be tuned to the tube and its coupled air column. To test the internal tuning, play the lowest tone (all holes and thumbhole closed), then see how close the match is to the octave note (LH 1st finger only closed, thumbhole open. Then test the next octave pair, the tone produced with all holes closed but for the lowest, and its match, all holes open. If the higher octave notes are flat, then the reed must be shortened. Using a very sharp knife or scissors, trim a tiny sliver off the blowing end of the reed; test again. Continue little by little until the octaves are accurate. I caution you to only remove a tiny amount of the reed tip at one time. You can always remove more if necessary, but it cannot be put back on.

In the traditional styles the mey/duduk is never overblown, but if it were, like the clarinet it would produce a note a 12th above the fundamental; without clarinet-like keywork there would be a gap in the scale. Playing is therefore confined to the fundamental range, and no overblowing used. Like the bagpiper, much use is made of a limited melodic range.

With care, the reeds can last for some time, but like all organic materials is unpredictable, so for the performing musician an extra reed, already fitted and tuned, is a must.

To care for the tube of the mey or duduk, regular oiling of the bore and the exterior is recommended. I prefer to use sweet almond oil, as it is human-friendly and unlike other vegetable oils resists rancidity.