Musicologist, PhD in Arts, Head of the Re­search Department of the Komitas Mu­seum-Institute, Senior Researcher at the Institute of Arts of the National Academy of Sciences of RA, 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 201415, she conducted post-doctoral research at the Center for Systematic Musicology of the Graz University in Austria. Shakhkuly­an is the author of a monograph Komitas: His Early Creative Period (Yerevan, 2014) and a number of pubished volumes. She is the author of about 30 articles published in Armenia, USA, Italy, Finland and Poland. Shakhkulyan has presented papers at international festivals, conferences and congresses in Yerevan, Budapest, Zu­rich, Czestochowa, St. Petersburg, Rome, Lucca, Graz, Tokyo, etc. Shakhkulyan’s re­search interests include Komitas’s music and musicological research, Armenian folk music, counterpoint in the Armenian, Russian and Western music and the XX century counterpoint.


This paper discusses the theoretical grounds of Armenian music with an at­tempt of making a cross-cultural com­parison with the major-minor system. Unlike the major and minor, which are the leading tonalities of European and world music, Armenian music is based on conjunct rather than disjunct tetra­chords. Those two principles of the re­lationship between the tetrachords had theoretically already been presented by Ancient Greek philosophers. Komi­tas discovered this principle as being present in the Armenian music as well, based on the analysis of the thousands of folk and church music pieces.
The basic question put in this paper is the following: what are the similarities and the differences between the Arme­nian music and major-minor? Are they indeed comparable? When answering these questions, I consider the modal structures, as well as the relationship be­tween the stable/unstable tones and the consonance/dissonance of sonorities. As a result of the comparison, another inter­esting question arises: how is the synthe­sis of such different cultures, as the Ar­menian traditional music and the Euro­pean harmony, carried out so effectively by many Armenian composers? Why did Komitas himself prefer a totally unique form of polyphony?