Tag Archives: Armenian Music

UPDATE: Sayat Nova Project

The Sayat Nova project has reached its initial funding goal  in just over a week. We’d like to thank everyone who donated and/or shared our Kickstarter. Thanks to your contributions, we’ll be able to create the website, cover the expenses for your rewards, and pay for some of our travel costs.

With 11 days to go, we’re continuing  to promote the Kickstarter in order to fund even more recording trips across the Caucasus. Because of the abundant support we’ve received in such a short time, we’re hoping to continue fundraising to fully fund the high costs of traveling to hard-to-reach places such as Svaneti, Tusheti, Quba, and Xinaliq. This extra funding will also cover the costs of travel for local volunteers and interpreters when necessary. In the following months we’ll be meeting with Georgian, Roma, Jewish, Kurdish, Azerbaijani, Armenian, Abkhazian, Assyrian, and Ossetian musicians living here in Tbilisi. We also have multiple trips planned to surrounding areas and farther afield. Here’s the general itinerary for a few of our larger scale trips and some information about some of the different groups we’ll be recording:


February: North-Eastern Georgia: we’re visiting musicians in villages surrounding TianetiAkhmeta Kvareli, and Lagodekhi .This trip will allow to record Georgian musicians from the region and hopefully Batsbi, Kist, Chechen, Dagestani, and Udi musicians as well.


March: Azerbaijan: visiting QaxShekiGabalaXinaliqQuba, and Baku. We’ll be recording Azeri music (Ashigs and Mugam) as well as Georgian, Lezgin, Tats (Jewish), and Avar musicians. We’re also hoping to meet with some famous Azerbaijani electric guitarists (Remish!) in Baku (fingers crossed).

Digital Maps for Graphic Design

April: Armenia: In cooperation with the Union of Kurdish Youth of Georgia we’ll be visitingYezedi Kurdish villages in the Aragatsotn Province and traveling through villages on the way to Yerevan.

In addition to these larger scale trips we’ll be traveling on the weekends to villages all over Georgia in order to document as many musical dialects as humanly possible! We’re planning on traveling to Racha in May and Svaneti and Tusheti sometime in June (as soon as the snow melts). In addition to all these trips, We’ll be hosting events in Tbilisi with local musicians where we’ll present our work and give talks about the Sayat Nova project. To everyone who has donated so far:

 Thank you! Təşəkkür edirəm! დიდი მადლობა! Շնորհակալ եմ! Большое спасибо! 

Please help us continue to promote this project! 

Here’s our kickstarter: http://kck.st/WxntHo

Our facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SayatNovaProject

And an event we created for the frequent posting of videos: EVENT

– Ben


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Armenian Records/ Transcription

Due to the large numbers of Armenians who relocated to the United States during the Armenian diaspora, there seem to be more Armenian Folk records than Georgian or Azerbaijani available in used record bins. I found this recording for among the world music LPs at the Easy Street Records in West Seattle. It was $3. Many of the tracks sound like Soviet classical/folk hybrids in which the powers that be had musicians record old folk songs in a “classical” style, many times with western instrumentation as opposed to using folk instruments. The song Yarimo is my favorite on the LP, mixing in a choral arrangement with some folk instruments and a lengthy compound time signature.

I did a little research and found a vocal Jazz/scat version of the same tune: http://www.yerkaran.org/yarimo/. I have to say I favor the LP version but its interesting to listen to them back to back and hear how the melody can still be retained in a different time signature/genre/era etc.  I did a little transcription of the theme (from the LP) and am posting it along with some analysis for any music theory/ethnomusicology geeks who are interested.


Yarimo is played in the Key of D harmonic/natural minor with the occasional bouts of modal mixture and/or the incorporation of the parallel major. It is in the compound meter of 3/8 + 2/8 + 2/8 + 2/8 +2/8 +2/8 + 3/8.

It starts by presenting each of the sections instrumentally in this form: AABBCCAA

And then the chorus comes in for these sections: BBCCAA.

At 1:41 the song shifts to D major and there is a short duduk solo which transitions back into the instrumental A section and then repeats the BBCCAA form with the chorus up until the end. 

I’ll be posting some Azerbaijani Mugam music and Georgian polyphonic singing pretty soon.

– Ben

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