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The sounds of the duduk often evokes a strong emotional response. My question is: Which music can be played with the duduk? Only traditional or possible to play jazz or classical music.

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As the great Armenian composer Aram Khachaturyan said, “duduk is the only instrument that can make me cry”. Or as the famous duduk player Jivan Gasparyan said,  “In its tiny holes (the duduk) bears the cry of Armenia’s bitter past”. At the same time, those are not the tears of sadness, but rather from encountering profound beauty.

The most common ensembles of duduk music are duduk duo which includes a principal duduk and dam (drone), and duduk trio that is used mostly for the dance music, which includes: principal duduk, dam keeping duduk and dhol (drum).

The role of dam is particularly important especially when a melody is played on duduk with the dam without dhol (drum). In such music the sound of dam (continuous drone) creates a specific feeling of timelessness. This is a special kind of meditative music that makes listeners to come very close to the sense of eternity.

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The first professional attempt of using duduk in classical modern music was in 1975 by Armenian composer Avet Terteryan (1929-1995) in his 3rd Symphony together with the zurna, and a symphonic orchestra. This composition is very popular also in our days and is frequently performed by many orchestras (publisher Sikorsky). Later, Terteryan used another folk instrument kyamancha in his 5th Symphony.

Duduk was also chosen by the great cellist of our days Yo-Yo Ma and Silk Road Project to convey the sound of Armenia. Dudukist Gevorg Dabaghyan and composer Vache Sharafyan were elected by him to be official representatives from Armenia to present the sound and the spirit of Armenian duduk throughout the world. Since 2001 several compositions by Vache Sharafyan, such as ”The Sun, the Wine and the Wind of Time” for duduk, violin, cello and piano, “The Morning Scent of the Acacia’s Song” for duduk and string quartet, also the version for duduk, soprano and string orchestra (published by G. Schirmer), and “Ascending Kyamancha” for duduk (zurna), cello and piano were performed by dudukist Gevorg Dabaghyan, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble in Cologne philharmonic, Brussels philharmonic, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, in USA: Carnegie Hall, Berkeley University, Stanford University, Seattle Benaroya Hall, Washington National Mall, Chicago Symphony Orchestra Hall, in Italy: Rome, Florence, Milan., and other venues in USA and Europe were received with great success.

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Both Armenian folk songs and arrangements of classical music can be played on the duduk. “The duduk doesn’t have a very large potential because its range of sounds is not very large,” so its ability to adapt is limited.

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