An Armenian asug (Աշուղ) with a ten-string saz
Yazım tarihi: Ocak 1, 2015 Filed under: Anadolu Ermeni Müziği, Anatolian Armenian Music, bağlamacı fotoğrafları, Listening, Music | Tags: ara dinkjian, aşuğ, aşık, çankırı, chibouk, gadulka, kamancha, kef, kef time, kele nazo, kele nazov, onnik dinkjian, Չանքըրը, Աշուղ, Richard Hagopian, sepastia bar, viola d'amore
“Oh you told me that you would marry me
You fooled me with a ten-string saz now i see”
From a Çankırı/Չանքըրը song
Today a friend
of mine sent me a picture. “An Armenian sofa Tokat or Sivas” was written under the description of this old and beautiful picture. I downloaded the photo and tried to see some details by zooming in, like whether the kamancha
(upright violin) is played with nails and how many strings did the saz (the lute that the man on the rigth is playing) have, but I was not lucky since Facebook had already lowered the quality of the photo. I used Google image search and found out that the photograph was a part of the collection called The Armenians. Pictures of a destiny (1906-1939).
I downloaded a high resolution version of the image from the same website.
There are ten pegs on this saz, five on the front and five on the top. Ten pegs mean ten strings, so this asug/Աշուղ (aşık) here is playing a ten-string saz. Even though it is not clear, from the shape of his hands it seems like this asug was using a tezene (a kind of plectrum). In the mean time, the man in the middle is smoking his chibouk, enjoying this beautiful ‘kef’ moment probably. The kamancha player on the left, as it is clear from this high-res picture, is not playing the kamancha with his nails, but playing with his fingers. There are eight pegs on this upright violin, but it has four strings. Since the strings are not doubled, we can think of the possibility of sympathetic strings (that were probably coming down from the back of the neck) like the baroque instrument Viola d’amore, or the Bulgarian Gadulka. But unfortunately it is impossible to see these details even from this high-res picture. It seems like the kamancha player is playing a chord at the moment the picture was taken, What were they playing?
What kind of common repertoire did these musicians have? Did they use to play, let’s say Sepastia Bar (Sivas Bar, or in Turkish Malatya Malatya)? If they did, how did it sound like? Which Armenian and Turkish (if any) songs did they play in the Asug style? (In order to find some answers to these questions, please wait for the brand new album of Onnik Dinkjian in which he sings Armenian songs from Diyarbekir, but for now please watch this amazing album teaser)
if you would like to hear, how Sepastia Bar would have sounded with a kemençe check this video:
Unfortunately, as far as my knowledge, we are not left with any ten string saz or any saz recordings from an Armenian saz player because of the horrible events of the late nineteenth-early twentieth century. But still, I would like to share a recording with you from Onnik Dinkjian, in which his son Ara Dinkjian played the saz. The song is called Kele Nazov. Since the lyrics mentioned the saz, Ara decided that they should record the song with the saz, and the result was of course amazing. Long story short, here we have one of the most beautiful songs that was ever recorded, with a delicate saz accompaniment by Ara Dinkjian:
This is video of women learning how to dance the Armenian Sepastia Bar:
And lastly, this is a very nice Sepastia Bar recording from Richard Hagopian’s Kef Time ensemble: