Musicologist, Doctor of Arts, Professor, Honored Worker of Art of RA, Leading Researcher at the Institute of Arts of the National Academy of Sciences of RA, Professor at the Komitas State Conservatory of Yerevan, Corresponding Member of the Ararat International Academy of Sciences (Paris), International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM), a member of the Composer’s Union of Armenia. L. Yernjakyan is the author of about 70 articles in Armenian, Russian and English and 5 monographs including: From the History of Armenian-Iranian Musical Ties (Yerevan, 1991), Hymn to the Sun, ‟Sahari” in Armenian Music (co-authored by H. Pikichyan, Yerevan, 1998), Ashoogh Love Romance in the Context of Neareastern Musical Interrelations (Yerevan, 2009), The Music of Alan Hovhanness at East-West Crossroads (Yerevan, 2015). She has presented papers at numerous local and international conferences. Yernjakyan’s research is focused on Eastern traditional and classical music, Armenian sacred and ašuł music, Armenian-Iranian and Armenian-Turkish music interactions, as well as on the modern art of music composition.
MULTILINGUALISM AND IDENTITY IN THE ARMENIAN BARD
TRADITION IN LIGHT OF KOMITAS’S CONCEPTIONS
The study of general concepts concerning the relationship between music and identity covering the wide range of native and alien, local and international practices is a focal point in modern ethnomusicology. Such cultural discourses resonate well with national musical identity in Armenia as well as its Diaspora and provide insights to illuminate the multilingual legacy of Armenian ašułs in the context of Near Eastern tradition.
In this paper the idea of national identity and the sense of Armenianness, formulated by prominent scholar and composer Komitas are discussed in the light of Armenian/Eastern dichotomy. Komitas archimandrite, one of the founding members of the International Musicological Society in Berlin, is among the pioneers of ethnomusicology of his time. His vision of national identity paradigm, based on folk and church music in accord with dominating national, ideological theories in the XIX-XX centuries, was incompatible with the activity and creations of Armenian ašułs, who used to write in different Eastern languages. Nonetheless, it is worth mentioning that his comparative research and the choice of samples for some unpublished works are beyond his theorizations of national aesthetic values and orientation.
It can be claimed that trilingualism, quadrilingualism or translanguaging tendencies, which are available in Armenian ašułs art, conditioned by historical political circumstances, which amounted in the formation of Armenian ašuł schools in different cultural centers of Near East; and the Caucasus greatly stimulated the spread and popularity of their songs. Interestingly, this phenomenon promoted and retained Armenian ašuł identity distinguishing their musical poetic art and mission in a broader matrix of all Eastern tradition. The consideration of multilingualism and identity issues in relation to Komitas’s arguments emphasize the importance of reinterpretation of musical realities in the framework of interdisciplinary approaches.