The acknowledged master of the Armenian reed instrument known as the duduk, Djivan Gasparayan, was born just outside of the nation's capital city of Yerevan, first picking up the instrument at age six. After joining the Tatool Altounian National Song and Dance Ensemble in 1948, his first professional engagement was as a soloist with the Yerevan Philharmonic Orchestra; Gasparayan later went on tour extensively throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and the United States, and in 1973 was the first musician given the honorary title of People's Artist of Armenia by the nation's government. Gasparayan's commercial breakthrough followed in 1989 when he was featured on Peter Gabriel's soundtrack to the Martin Scorsese film The Last Temptation of Christ; he subsequently contributed to the soundtracks of The Russia House, and the cable TV production Storm and Sorrow, additionally performing with the Kronos Quartet and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. His debut solo album, I Will Not Be Sad in This World, appeared on the Opal label in 1989; Armenian Fantasies followed in 2000.
The duduk is a double reed instrument which has ancient origins, said to be from 1500 to 3000 years old. The earliest instruments similar to the duduk's present form are made of bone or entirely of cane. Today the duduk is exclusively made of wood with a large double reed. Armenian duduks are mainly made from aged apricot wood (Prunus armeniaca, "Armenian plum" in Latin), although other regional varieties use other materials (mulberry, etc.). The particular tuning depends heavily on the region which it is played. In the 20th century the Armenian duduk began to be standardized diatonic in scale and single-octave in range. Accidentals, or chromatics are achieved using fingering techniques. The instrument's body also has different lengths depending upon the range of the instrument and region. The reed is made from one or two pieces of cane in a duck-bill type assembly. Unlike other double-reed instruments, the reed is quite wide, helping to give the duduk both its unique, mournful sound, as well as its remarkable breath requirements.
Collected here are Gasparyan's albums "Moon Shines At Night", "Armenian Fantasies" and a selection of songs from a variety of albums through the years.