Monday, April 7, 2008


The duduk (doo-DOOK) is an oboe-like, double-reed instrument, of which there are several variations belonging to different countries. The only one I’m acquainted with is the Armenian variety (it’s also Armenia’s national instrument), which is traditionally made of apricot wood, although mulberry trees can be used as well. The thought that it comes from an apricot tree is so delightful. Those small, sweet, velvety-skinned fruits… and to think the tree then provides the means for this wonderful music. Is it any wonder I am such a shameless tree-hugger?

The first instruments of this kind first appeared approximately 3,000 years ago, and the Armenian version was probably developed about 2,000 years ago. I first heard it playing in the background while at a wonderful dinner at the home of my lovely Armenian friends/honourary aunties. I bought a CD shortly afterwards, featuring Djivan Gasparyan (I was informed that he is a very well known exponent of the instrument), and it’s had a lot of playings. The sound is hauntingly vocal, almost human, as if you could combine the sound of an oboe with a human voice. There is a soft reediness and deep woodiness to it as well. The result is mournful and unforgettable. Over lunch with another Armenian friend, I was recommended another CD, this one featuring Gevorg Dabagian, which is equally enjoyed. I especially like playing this music very late at night, just before going to bed. I sit with a small nip of Cardhu or Dalwhinnie, and listen to that woody, haunting, sensual sound.

I bet there are some examples on Youtube, although the sound would suffer. It’s quite common now in film soundtracks, the most recent I could find being in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. When Mr. Tumnus, the faun, plays a lullaby to Lucy, that’s a duduk you are listening to.

Speaking of oboes, my quest for a good teacher has flagged of late, but must be picked up soon. Yesterday at the opera, during Tatyana’s letter scene, the first eye seepage began as the oboe introduced the main theme of longing… sigh.


Woodchips said...

Avid reader... first time poster.

I think it's really cool the way a single instrument will speak to us.

I wonder what it is that makes us identify with a particular sound?

I'm not sure what instrument that is for me - which may explain why I play the ones that I play so poorly.

I think you've inspired me to find out what instrument that is for me.

Betsy said...

Good to hear you have your taxes done. ...and yes, chocolate should be deductible! ha-ha!
Nice info on the duduk....I'd never heard of one before!

laurie said...

finally! another ciaran hinds appreciator!

Blog Princess G said...

Woodchips ~ I never thought of it that way - about a single instrument talking to us. I feel this way about the oboe. I'm curious to see what you discover for yourself.

Betsy ~ let's start a chocolate-deductible movement! You can take the U.S. Chapter, I'll found the Canadian one. Hee hee.

Laurie ~ I'm glad you agree that Ciaran Hinds is a Wentworthy man. :)

willow said...

Fascinating! The duduk is new to me...I'll have to do more investigating! Thank you!