The Zurna is among the most popular instruments in Armenia. Zurna is a wind instrument made of apricot or pear wood and has a removable double reed. Most of the time it's inseparable from the Dhol, and for this reason it is known as “Davul-Zurna” and both are used simultaneously while musical or dance performances, especially while public celebrations such as weddings and other gatherings. It is due to the loud, sharp and cheerful sounds that those instruments produce.
The Armenian Zurna (pronounced “zoor-na”) is an ancient, traditional woodwind that can
most easily be described as being a doudle-reeded trumpet. While the instrument is generally believed to have its’ origins in China, variations (along with their various names) can be found throughout Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, the Balkans, as well as in the Caucasus. Despite the many variations of form and tuning, two things that they all have in common are their loud, piercing, nasal sound and the fact that they generally accompany festivities and important events. This is most definitely the fact in Armenia, where the zurna has deep roots in the traditional culture. In fact, there is specific mention of the zurna in Armenian literature as early as the IX century in the epic story “David of Sasoun”. In the past, zurna was played during harvests, holidays, outdoor gatherings, weddings, and is even known to have accompanied tight-rope walkers in traveling circuses! Today, just as it did in the past, the zurna still has an important place in the musical culture and can be heard at weddings and festivals throughout Armenia. As with the duduk, the Armenian zurna is most commonly played in pairs, with one musician playing the lead melody and the other playing a continual drone note (called the “dam”) that is held by circular breathing. However, unlike the duduk which often plays without percussion, the zurna is almost always accompanied by the dhol (the traditional, double sided drum).
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