In the search for information on The Armenian Song & Dance Ensemble, I admittedly came up extraordinarily short on information outside a couple albums on Smithsonian Folkways.
I found groups like the Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra and the State Dance Ensemble of Armenia but perhaps The Armenian Song & Dance Ensemble is long gone, or a bit under the radar nowadays.
Anyway, here are some facts about Armenia:
- The culture of Armenia can be dated back over 3,000 years. It’s old. Really old.
- A country of profound roots, Armenia became one of the first Christian civilizations in 300 AD.
- A country that has seen and been through tremendous changes and global conquests, Armenia has been conquered and/or divided by the Byzantines, Mongols, Persians, Russians and Ottoman Empire over the last 700 years or so.
- Known as the Armenian Genocide, some 1.5 million Armenians were killed at the hands of the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1917.
As for Armenian folk music, it is quite difficult to characterize, as it has had so many influences throughout its history and diaspora.
However, upon looking to some basic traits, we can say a few things about Armenian folk music from Armenia:
- Beautiful dances seem to often go side by side with the music.
- Armenians had their own music notation system from the 8th to 18th centuries (secular and church music included). However it fell out of popularity in the 15th century.
- Besides simple time meters like 4/4 and 3/4, mixed meters are commonly found such as 5/8 and 7/8. The music featured is in 5/8.
- Due to its bestriding position between Eastern and Western culture, its music appears to be greatly influenced by both.
There is a particularly sublime beauty to Armenia’s history, manifested through trials, abstruse history and indelible culture.
Here is The Armenian Song & Dance Ensemble playing “Sevana Zgnorsnerou Bar.”
If the video doesn’t work in your country:
Disclaimer: I am not an expert on Armenian Folk music. It is a complex subject due to the country’s great diaspora and large amplitude of influences that have come with it.