Awe­some mu­sic from the ar­chives. This week: Dji­van Gas­paryan

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - TICKET STUBS - Donal Di­neen

The duduk, a wood­wind in­stru­ment in­dige­nous to Ar­me­nia, is a small, dou­ble reed flute carved from aged apri­cot wood. The rich tonal colour and sweet­ness of the sound it makes is no co­in­ci­dence.

The an­cient duduk’s mourn­ful, oboe-like sound is due to the width of the reed, which re­quire re­mark­able breath­ing tech­niques by the player.It is most com­monly played with another duduk, where the soloist plays over the ac­com­pa­ny­ing drone or foun­da­tion. This is what gives the sound its uniquely touch­ing sonic at­mos­phere, with the scales chang­ing har­mo­niously be­tween both in­stru­ments.

It’s a cap­ti­vat­ing and freeflow­ing sound. There is an in­ti­macy to it that in­vites con­tem­pla­tion. In its gen­tle­ness it re­sides close to si­lence and its whis­per­ing tones ap­pear not to dis­turb quiet­ness very much at all.

From the breath of the great Dji­van Gas­paryan, the duduk, once re­garded as a poor per­son’s in­stru­ment, has reached high places and western ears. In 1989 Gas­paryan re­leased an al­bum on his own Opal la­bel called I Will Not Be Sad in This World. A sub­se­quent col­lab­o­ra­tion with the pro­ducer Michael Brook re­sulted in Moon Shines at Night.

This is Gas­paryan’s master­piece. Brook works his magic in the most sub­tle of ways, man­u­fac­tur­ing a warm, acous­ti­cal set­ting in or­der to bring the sound even closer to the lis­tener.

Gas­paryan’s play­ing is heart­felt and grace­ful. There’s a ten­der­ness in ev­ery note, phrase and song. The two tracks on which he sings, Mother of Mine and 7th of De­cem­ber 1988, are pow­er­ful and highly evoca­tive. The sim­i­lar­ity of his singing voice and his in­stru­ment is a mes­meris­ing com­bi­na­tion.

It ren­ders tan­gi­ble the most elu­sive of things: A quiet, peace­ful dream.

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