musicologist, PhD in Art, Senior Researcher at the Institute of Arts of the National Academy of Sciences of RA, Head of the Research Department of the Komitas Museum-Institute, Lecturer at the Komitas State conservatory, Liaison Officer for Armenia at the International Council for Traditional Music. She defended her dissertation thesis at the Institute of Arts of the National Academy of Sciences of RA. In 2014-15, she conducted post-doctoral research at the Center for Systematic Musicology of the Graz University in Austria.
Shakhkulyan’s recent monograph was on Komitas: His Early Creative Period (2014). She is the author of a number of published articles in Armenian, Russian, English and Polish. Shakhkulyan has presented papers at international festivals, conferences and congressed in Yerevan, Budapest, Zurich, Czestochowa, St. Petersburg, Rome, Lucca, Graz etc. Shakhkulyan’s research interests include Komitas’s music and musicological research, Armenian folk music, counterpoint in Armenian, Russian and in Western music, XX century counterpoint.
KOMITAS AND THE XX CENTURY WESTERN MUSIC
Komitas possessed a Western education and was influenced by Western music. The impact of Richard Wagner’s music is especially evident in his early works. Worth noticing is his inclination to the music of impressionism. At the same time, Komitas’s works display a number of compositional novelties, which were not common in the Western music by his time.
The polymeter is one of those novelties. Komitas composed his Tando for the choir conjoining 3/4 with 5/4 in a vertical dimension, in order to present the contrast between the permanence of the church bells (3/4) and human deliberation (5/4). Komitas wrote this work in the 1890s, meanwhile the polymeter began to be circulated in Western art music in the XX century.
The usage of Armenian folk music instruments in the symphony score is noteworthy: we found evidence of the latter in Komitas’s uncompleted drafts of the Anoush opera (Komitas archives, Charents Museum of Literature and Art, No. 489). At the beginning of the XX century, engaging folk music instruments in the symphony orchestra was not yet common.
His other novelty refers to harmony. In this paper, the chords that consisted of the fourths resulting in diminished sevens are suggested to be named the Komitas Harmony. Besides, the multi-layered chords consisting of the thirds that together form ninth-chords or eleventh-chords, being in an open rather than a closed arrangement, are also considered as the Komitas Harmony.
Another technique noticed in Komitas’s works is the principle of the counterpoint of two different songs belonging to the same genre. Here we can find a key of understanding of some details in the unique originality of Komitas’s texture, which is mostly impossible to describe in common terms.