Various Artists

The Music of Armenia, Vol. 6: Nagorno-Karabakh

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The final volume of Celestial Harmonies' Music of Armenia series provides a look into the musical culture of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, the region that has been the scene of the heaviest fighting between Armenians and Azerbajanis. The liner notes provide something of a disclaimer to the effect of "although the musicians featured on the album are amateurs, they're pretty good considering the conditions they live in." As it happens though, the musicians are actually quite good regardless of the conditions. The music featured on the album is primarily vocal music, and mainly from the folk traditions. In some pieces it is a solo vocalist with accompaniment that provides a haunting melody, and in other pieces a children's choir or a women's choir (though the women's choir was originally a mixed choir, all of the men have left for the fighting fronts). Some of the choir bits are reminiscent of various forms of Western European chant, and also entirely Armenian at times. This is definitely a music informed by the Eastern European traditions, but at the same time, it is a music set apart by the geographic boundaries of the encircling mountains as well as the political boundaries raised by the fighting in the region. It is an interesting look at a generally overlooked music culture. Pick it up for curiosity about the vocal styles, or for curiosity about the lives of the Karabakhs outside of the fighting usually portrayed.

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