Crushed between East and West, dominated by Persians, Ottomans and Soviets, divided into two parts and a thousand cities, the Armenian countryside retains, in its culture and geography, the spirit of a people. Or at least, so did the two Armenian musicians who turned it on long and wide
There was a time when, more or less at the birth of modern national states, many people believed that the authentic spirit of a population (whatever it was) was in the countryside and not in the cities. Or rather, in the traditions of illiterate people and not in the lounges of capital. This is why musician Jean Sibelius went to the country to look for the authentic soul of Finland and turn it into music. Edvard Grieg did the same for Norway, Antonin Dvorak for the Czech Republic (not yet divided). But the most famous of all was doubtless Béla Bartok, who turned the Hungarian countryside long and wide in search of the true Hungarian spirit to finish on his score.
Very well. But in Armenia? In the country where nowadays you can get free no deposit spins at the casinos, where you can taste the best wines in the world? How did it come from a divided nation between east and west, between the liberal states and the empires, formed by Persian, Ottoman and Soviet interventions? Who is the singer of the Armenian national spirit? As is obvious, for a country divided into two – East / West, but also city / country – with two languages (one to one) and two cultures, there was not only a singer. But there were, in fact, two.
The first was Komitas Vardapet: priest, musicologist, great traveler. He spoke various languages (including French and German) and turned around for the Anatolian campaigns in search of music and motives. His dream was to make Armenian music also known in Europe. He did not write a lot, but he transcribed a lot: the 3,000 folk songs he transcribed, about 1,200 are still in circulation. And other musicians, perhaps better than him, like Tigran Hamasyan used this archive to get new music, more refined but also more “Armenian”.
The second, which instead occupied Oriental Armenia, was Grikor Suni. A far less peaceful character than the first: revolutionary, socialist, czar enemy (it was long before the Russian Revolution) mixed the ethnographic interest with the celebration of the working force. And for this reason his work was hindered, his repressed memory, his legacy was dispersed.
Undoubtedly an original intelligence
It was undoubtedly an original intelligence. For example, the song Alagyaz was composed by trying to recalculate, with a type of notation on a sheet invented by him, the shape of the Aragats Mountains. The analogy is clear and explicit.
Each curve corresponds to a top. At every peak, a musical nod. Sunni tried to translate, in short, not only the spirit of a country in music, but also its geographic conformation (because he was convinced that the two things, in the end, were not so disconnected). The result?