musicologist-medievalist, Researcher at the Komitas Museum-Institute and at the Komitas State Conservatory in Yerevan, music editor of the Armenian National Music Treasure program of the Cultural Renaissance Foundation. Harutyunyan received her Bachalor’s and Master’s Degrees from the Department of Musicology of the Komitas State Conservatory. She is currently a post-graduate student of the same conservatory working on her dissertation thesis on the eight-mode system in the Armenian hymnody of the Mekhitarists Tradition, under the supervision of Mher Navoyan. Harutyunyan’s research focuses on the study of Armenian folk and sacred music.


The sharakan is one of the principal genres of Armenian sacred music. The performance of each sharakan is proceeded by a melodic fragment called the incipit (Arm. Սկսվածք, pronounced as Sksvatsq). The incipits are short versions of the modes, which are to be sung with a text extracted from the Bible in accordance with the type of the given sharakan.
In general, this field has a number of issues to be properly explored. The incipits were practically mostly used in the rites and even in older times no written recording was made. The first written incipits with the Armenian old Khaz notation are found in the manuscripts of a later period (the XVI – XVII centuries). The most important written examples of the incipits were made by Yeghia Tntesyan (short version) in Constantinople and by Nikoghayos Tashchyan (expanded version, grouped according to types and tempos) in Etchmiatsin. Becides the mentioned recordings, Armenian hymnody has developed in three more communities: in Jerusalem, New Julfa and the Mekhitarist Congregation in Venice.
This article explores the eight-mode system (Arm. Ութձայն, pronounced as Utdzayn) practiced at the Mekhitarist Congregation of Venice. I have attempted to reveal how the eight-mode system is displayed in the incipits of the sharakans, as their main purpose is demonstrating the mode. This study is based on the copy of a notebook written in 1957. The incipits belonging to the Mekhitarist singing tradition are written in the latter and are classified according to the types of sharakans and the modes of the eight-mode system.