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Armenian Lullabies

Author John Cech
Air Date 9/16/2004

Armenian Lullabies Transcript

Brief sound clip

You’re hearing one of the haunting songs from a new CD called Armenian Lullabies, which features the voice of Hasmik Harutyunyan, signing acapella and with the accompaniment of the Shoghaken Ensemble. This lullaby weaves together the voices of the singer with those of the oud — the lute-like instrument from the middle east — and the dham duduk — a flute made from the wood of the apricot tree. These sophisticated instrumental additions turn the simple, plaintive notes of a village lullaby into the polished complexity of an art song, into what is called, in Armenia, a song “of the city.” Each of the lullabies on this CD comes from a different region of both the ancient and present lands of Armenia. Many of these cradle songs were collected and thus preserved by the late 19th century musicologist and priest, Komitas, and a number of have become some of the most popular songs in present-day Armenia. In fact, several are virtual national anthems that express the suffering of the Armenian people, who endured genocide and dislocation for much of the twentieth century. The cradles here are rocked by a heart-breaking cultural legacy, by the poetry of anguish, as one lullaby tells the child:

The caravan passed
With a burden of tears
And in the black desert
fell to its knees
Exhausted
Ah, with the pain of the world
Don’t cry…. don’t cry….

Yet, somehow, we cannot help ourselves in the presences of this beautiful, soul-stirring sadness:

Brief sound clip

Posted in Music