the project

Like the preceeding collection, The Music of Armenia, Volume Three: Duduk (13117), this volume features both an instrument and a collection of works that occupy a middle ground between folk and classical music. Like the duduk reed instrument, the kanon's place in Armenian music is broadly defined. Traditionally used by folk singers to accompany their song, now, the kanon is taught in the music conservatories of Armenia with the same rigor and care as the violin or piano. Its repertoire includes ancient epic songs, folk dances, arrangement of sacred chants, and composed works that reflect the Western or Arabic classical traditions. It seems like the instrument was first used as accompaniment to minstrel songs or to the recitation of epic poetry; but the versatility of the modern instrument enabled some of the more curious and virtuosic kanon players of the 20th century to draw freely from the full range of Armenian music.

Many of the pieces recorded here by Karineh Hovhannessian are simply instrumental transcriptions of what were originally vocal works. Some of them are from the ashugh tradition, referring to the troubadour poet–musicians who wandered through Armenia from the 17th century through the 19th.

The following tracks offer a sampling of Karineh Hovhannessian's diversity with the kanon: Eshkhemed (track 11) has a bittersweet quality reminiscent of some Irish or medieval European troubadour music. Tokat (track 15), a surprising arrangement for solo kanon by Karineh Hovhannessian is a swirling harp–like fantasy that brings to mind the watery Impressionism of Debussy. Otar-amai champeki vra (track 16) is a moody musical landscape for kanon and duduk drones.

the artists

Karineh Hovhannessian, who leads the ensemble on this recording, is one of the most famous kanon players in Armenia. The kanon—a type of zither is actually considered a classical instrument She is a teacher and a renowned performer. Along with the duduk virtuoso Gevorg Dabagian, the featured artist on volume three in this series, Karineh Hovhannessian is a member of the Shoghaken Folk Ensemble, which is featured on the fifth volume in The Music of Armenia series. Like Dabagian, her solo repertoire includes both unaccompanied works and small emsemble pieces.

The remainder of the ensemble on this volume consists of the same accompanying musicians used by Gebory Dabagian in The Music of Armenia, Volume Three: Duduk (13117). Kamo Khachaturian plays the dhol, a barrel shaped drum that is usually played with the hands, although for certain dances a pair of sticks can be used instead. Eduard Harutunian and Grigor Takushian both play the duduk drones. The drone is maintained constantly by using the technique of circular breathing continuing to force air through the reed while inhaling through the nose. All three accompanying musicians are also members of the Shoghaken Folk Ensemble.


1 Nazani 1'55"
2 Vardani mor voghp (Vardan's lament.) 2'58"
3 Horovel (Harvest song.) 3'17"
4 Shalakho 3'19"
5 Sonat-Taghashar (Sonnet-Row of tagher.) 7'54"
6 Chinar as (You are a plane tree.) 3'51"
7 Trapizontsinerti par (Armenian dance from Trapizon.) 3'13"
8 Unabi/Marali/Shushiki (Melody of dances.) 3'43"
9 Kez, ov peso (To you, Groom.) 4'04"
10 Improvisation 4'06"
11 Eshkhemed 3'27"
12 Tsirani tsar (Apricot tree.) 2'39"
13 Dun es gikhen/Kamantcha (You always were/Kamantcha.) 3'45"
14 Lorva shoror/Arag par (The swing of Lori/Fast Dance.) 3'45"
15 Tokat (Toccata.) 4'01"
16 Otar-amai champeki vra (On strange desert roads.) 3'13"
17 Tagh (Medieval song.) 2'32"
18 Krunk (The crane.) 3'19"
19 Erzerumi shoror (Erzerum Swing.) 3'13"
  Total Time: 70'00"