Friday, 7 February 2014

Tigran Hamasyan, Shadow Theater, 2013

From a micro point of view, fourth track "Drip" is not only a very impressive performance of a progressive-style composition but also a complex blend of Armenian/Turkish folk heritage both with jazz and classical music. The saxophone and male/female vocals topping to electronically supported keys and rhythm in this piece seems to be put by a very talented musician. From a general point of view, underneath each detailed structure, we can even see somethin' tried by Herbie Hancock in his hip-hop period. Besides all, having listened to each piece in the album order, I can easily say that there is a designed rise and fall scheme for the tension not only in each individual performance but also between each track. I should accept that the emotional state of this album is an undefined playing object (upo); but considering the name we can say that this situation is already previewed by Tigran Hamasyan.


  1. Fatih, the song 'drip' doesn't have Turkish folk in it. Hamasyan is from Armenia and focuses heavily on Armenian sacred choral music (Sharakans, and liturgy), his folk influences are heavily from Komitas's cultivated folk music and a lot of khaghiks (oyunlar). Those khaghiks which are in 'drip' are too simple to have Turkish influence and their scales are entirely Armenian.
    There are Armenian songs that have Kurdish and some Arab-Turkish influence depending on geographic location. The general split is in Western and Eastern Armenian melodies and rhythms (cited by Komitas).
    I wish I had heard more Hancock to hear the parallels, I'm sure it's different but very interesting. Hancock is also a big supporter of Hamasyan.

  2. Thanks for the detailed/beneficial comment and inputs about Armenian khaghiks. I do know Tigran is from Armenia and the reason why I wrote Armenian/Turkish instead of Armenian is actually that I was suspicious about the source of the main theme I was hearing. Because, this simple khaghiks in "drip" really reminded me very traditional songs (mostly played in central Anatolia). It is obvious that this song is based on Armenian culture and your explanations are making this point very clear. My point was (as a Turkish man) to emphasize on my subjective experience resulted from my Turkish ears and honestly although it is from Armenia, the main theme in "drip" is getting attention in Turkey with its Turkish-like style. Well, of course the similarities and influences we hear may be from the opposite direction. I mean some khaghiks may have influenced some Turkish folk pieces with their scales. Even the geographical conditions seem to prevent cultural mergings, I believe there are some influences in both direction which may result in induction in different parts of Armenia as well as different parts of Turkey.

    For the Hancock case, I can not describe it as parallel. It is a style that reminds me what Hancock did while changing the direction jazz goes to with electronic injections. In Tigran's case, I see a lot more sophisticated contribution: folk, jazz, rock (even classic) is very well merged with many styles and electronics at the same time.

    As the last word, as you may see this is not a full review of the album compared to what I have written in my blog so far and the reason why I write such a small/fast review about this single piece was to try to stimulate Turkish jazz musicians about not only using their own heritage in folk music but also knowing the contemporary jazz both in states and Europe. In other words, I really appreciate what Tigran Hamasyan has been doing in last years as one of his neighbours in Turkey.


  3. Fatih,
    I understand that there may be some subjective hearing issues, we all have it. I don't expect you to know a lot about Armenian music, only because most people don't, especially Turks and slightly vice versa. Thank you for responding and explaining yourself, you didn't need to.
    I'd like to know what Central Anatolian genre your talking about. When it comes to Cen. Ana. all that comes to mind are Bozlaks which are pretty unique and from my fathers evaluation is a hittite music and mine is rumlesmis, turklesmis, hittite + central asian music. LOL but this is going too far.

    Regarding to what is heard in "drip". That is one of those "pure" Armenian type of music that is a melody meant to be improvised in villages hence khaghik. There is of course Armenian music like I said that is influenced by other peoples (Karadeniz, Turk, Kurd, Arab, Persian (some of ashough genre).
    Some say early Kizilbash are Armenian Tondrakians, so naturally that music would have similarities in ways to Armenian music of the time. After leaving the Arm. highland Hamshen Armenians have created their own Karadeniz style within this perceived Karadeniz genre of Laz, Pontis, etc. A lot of modern Armenian revolutionary songs are Kurdish songs and Kurdish folk songs Armenian and vice versa. Furthermore, Diarbekir Armenian songs are nothing like other Armenian or Kurdish songs.

    I appreciate Hamasyan's work too. I wish he were to perform in Turkey, so Armenians there would see their culture a little differently and for Turks to get to know some Armenian culture.