Duduk - also known as ծիրանափող (tsiranapogh) in Armenian

Wind instrument with double reed
Playing range


Djivan Gasparyan, Gevorg Dabaghyan, Pedro Eustache, Vache Sharafyan, Didier Malherbe

The duduk (doo-dook)[1] is an ancient double-reed woodwind flute made of apricot wood. It is indigenous to Armenia.[2][3] It is commonly played in pairs: while the first player plays the song, the second plays a steady drone, and the sound of the two instruments together creates a richer, more haunting sound.

The unflattened reed and cylindrical body produce a sound closer to the English horn than to more commonly known double-reeds. Unlike other double reed instruments like the oboe or shawm, the duduk has a very large reed proportional to its size. UNESCO proclaimed the Armenian duduk and its music as a Masterpiece of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005 and inscribed it in 2008.[4][5] Duduk music has been used in a number of films, most notably in The Russia House and Gladiator.

Variations of the duduk exist in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia, including the balaban in Azerbaijan and Iran.[6]


Duduk music
Melody performed with a duduk by SERGO.TEL.

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The word "duduk" (Armenian: դուդուկ) is derived from Turkish "düdük"[7] which means whistle.[8][9] The word dudka in Slavic languages is a diminutive of duda and is of native Proto-Slavic origin.[10]

This instrument is not to be confused with the northwestern Bulgarian folk instrument of the same name (see below, Balkan duduk).


A duduk mouthpiece

The duduk is a double reed instrument with ancient origins, having existed since at least the fifth century, while there are Armenian scholars who believe it existed more than 1,500 years before that.[11] 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, with the body made from aged apricot wood.[12]

The particular tuning depends heavily on the region in which it is played. In the twentieth 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 (Armenian: եղեգն, eġegn), 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. The duduk player is called dudukahar (դուդուկահար) in Armenian.

The performer uses air stored in his cheeks to keep playing the instrument while he inhales air into his lungs. This "circular" breathing technique is commonly used with all the double-reed instruments in the Middle East.[6]

Duduk "is invariably played with the accompaniment of a second dum duduk, which gives the music an energy and tonic atmosphere, changing the scale harmoniously with the principal duduk."[13]


Armenian musicologists cite evidence of the duduk's use as early as 1200 BC, though Western scholars suggest it is 1,500 years old.[14] Variants of the duduk can be found in Armenia and the Caucasus. The history of the Armenian duduk music is dated to the reign of the Armenian king Tigran the Great, who reigned from 95–55 B.C.[15] According to ethnomusicologist Dr. Jonathan McCollum, the instrument is depicted in numerous Armenian manuscripts of the Middle Ages, and is "actually the only truly Armenian instrument that's survived through history, and as such is a symbol of Armenian national identity ... The most important quality of the duduk is its ability to express the language dialectic and mood of the Armenian language, which is often the most challenging quality to a duduk player."[16]

Balkan duduk

While "duduk" most commonly refers to the double reed instrument described on this page, by coincidence there is a different instrument of the same name played in northwestern Bulgaria. This is a blocked-end flute resembling the Serbian frula, known also as kaval or kavalče in a part of Fyrom,[17] and as duduk (дудук) in northwest Bulgaria.[18][19] Made of maple or other wood, it comes in two sizes: 700–780 millimetres (28–31 in) and 240–400 millimetres (9.4–15.7 in) (duduce). The blocked end is flat. Playing this type of duduk is fairly straightforward and easy, and its sound is clean and pleasant.

The sound of the duduk has become known to wider audiences through its use in popular film soundtracks. Starting with Peter Gabriel's score for Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ, the duduk's archaic and mournful sound has been employed in a variety of genres to depict such moods. Djivan Gasparyan played the duduk in Gladiator, Syriana, and Blood Diamond, among others.[20] The duduk was also used extensively in Battlestar Galactica.[21] The duduk was also used in the series Avatar: The Last Airbender. Its computer-altered sound was given to the fictitious Tsungi horn, played by a number of the characters. The sound of the duduk was used in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. A Lullaby that Mr. Tumnus plays on a fictitious double flute.[22] Duduk is used in the theme song of the Dothraki clan in TV adaptation of Game of Thrones.[23]

The 2010 Eurovision Song Contest entry from Armenia "Apricot Stone", which finished 7th in the final, featured prominent duduk played by Djivan Gasparyan. In the indie-rock genre, the French-American band Deleyaman is the first alternative music band to have featured the duduk on all of their albums with Gerard Madilian as a permanent member in their line-up.

Film soundtracks

The duduk has been used in a number of films, especially "to denote otherworldliness, loneliness, and mourning or to supply a Middle Eastern/Central Asian atmosphere."[24]

Benik Ignatyan playing the duduk at the Armenian Genocide memorial complex in Yerevan, Armenia, 1997.
Duduk player at the Forom des langues du monde in Toulouse, France.

Television soundtracks

Video game scores

Anime soundtracks

See also


  1. "The Duduk and National Identity in Armenia". Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society. American Musical Instrument Society. 32: 183. 2006. ...the duduk (pronounced doo-dook)...
  2. Stokes, Jamie, ed. (2008). Peoples of Africa and the Middle East, Volume 1. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-8160-7158-6. One of the oldest indigenous Armenian instruments is the duduk, a woodwind instrument usually made from apricot wood, with a double reed mouthpiece.
  3. "Armenian duduk and other Armenian folk instruments" (PDF). UNESCO. June 2003. p. 32. Retrieved 16 March 2014. Duduk is considered to be the most Armenian of all folk instruments for its Armenian origin and honest expression. It has a 1500 – year history and is native to Armenia although there are its variants played in Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
  4. "Sounds of Armenian duduk". UNESCO. November 2012. Archived from the original on 16 March 2014. Duduk and its music were inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008 (originally proclaimed in 2005). The duduk, or "dziranapogh" in Armenian, is a double-reed woodwind instrument made of apricot wood, conventionally called the "Armenian oboe".
  5. "Duduk and its music". UNESCO. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  6. 1 2 Albright, Ch. (15 December 1988). "BĀLĀBĀN". Encyclopaedia Iranica. Archived from the original on 16 March 2014.
  7. Malkhasyants, Stepan (1944). "դուդուկ (duduk)". Hayerēn bacʿatrakan baṙaran [Armenian Explanatory Dictionary] (in Armenian). Yerevan: State Publishing House. p. 537.
  8. "Дудук [Duduk]" (in Russian). Great Soviet Encyclopedia.
  9. "Дудук [Duduk]" (in Russian). Russian language dictionary in 4 volumes. Volume 1. 1999.
  10. "дуда" in М. Фасмер (1986), Этимологический Словарь Русского Языка (Москва: Прогресс), 2-е изд. — Перевод с немецкого и дополнения О.Н. Трубачёва
  11. Broughton, Simon; Ellingham, Mark; and Trillo, Richard, eds. (1999). World Music: Africa, Europe and the Middle East. p. 334. ISBN 9781858286358.
  12. Andrea L. Stanton; Edward Ramsamy; Peter J. Seybolt, eds. (2012). Cultural Sociology of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa: An Encyclopedia. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications. p. 167. ISBN 9781412981767.
  13. Duduk Info at Ethnicinstruments.co.uk
  14. Encyclopedia.com:DJIVAN GASPARYAN
  15. "The roots of Armenian duduk music go back to the times of the Armenian king Tigran the Great (95-55 BC)": "The Duduk and its Music. UNESCO. Accessed February 8, 2010.
  16. Turpin, Andy (12 February 2010). "Nothing Sounds Armenian Like a Duduk: ALMA Lecture". Armenian Weekly. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  17. www.macedoniadirect.com/instruments/supelki.htm
  18. "Дудук : Horo.bg - българският сайт за народни хора, песни, танци, обичаи, фолклор" (in Bulgarian). Horo.bg. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
  19. For a detailed description of the instrument (in Bulgarian), see http://www.bgjourney.com/Bit%20t%20Kultura/Old%20gloss/Old%20gloss%20Du.html
  20. Gasparian article at imdb.com
  21. Duduk article from composer Bear McCreary's Battlestar Galactica site
  22. Harry Gregson-Williams Talks Narnia & Narnian Lullaby Clip
  23. No flutes allowed: Composer Ramin Djawadi on the music of 'Game of Thrones', Deutsche Welle
  24. Hung, Eric (2011). Leonard, Kendra Preston, ed. Buffy, Ballads, and Bad Guys Who Sing: Music in the Worlds of Joss Whedon. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 259. ISBN 9780810877658.
  25. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 "Chris Bleth Movie Credits". Chrisbleth.com. Archived from the original on 16 March 2014.
  26. Gladiator by Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard
  27. "Hotel Rwanda Film Music"http://www.musicweb-international.com/film/2006/apr06/hotelrwanda.html
  28. "Hulk Editorial Review". Filmtracks. 8 June 2003. Archived from the original on 22 July 2003.
  29. Brennan, Mike (2 December 2005). "The Chronicles of Narnia Review". Archived from the original on 16 March 2014. These include the use of the duduk as Mr. Tumnus' pipe in "A Narnia Lullaby"...
  30. Savita Gautham. "inese rhapsody". The Hindu. Retrieved 2003-10-23.
  31. "Instruments of Battlestar Galactica: Duduk". Bearmccreary.com. 2006-09-28. Retrieved 2010-02-15.
  32. Runner, Blade (2004-02-26). "Duduk: The Instrument That Makes Hollywood Cry". Galactica-station.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2010-02-15.
  33. "Battlestar Galactica: Season Two". Musicweb-international.com. Retrieved 2010-02-15.
  34. "Children of Dune". Cinemusic.net. Archived from the original on November 15, 2009. Retrieved 2010-02-15.
  35. "'Game of Thrones' Composer Ramin Djawadi: 'I'm Just Trying to Create Something Magical' (Q&A)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2013-12-27.
  36. http://www.soundtrack.net/content/article/?id=201
  37. "Civ5in". Michaelcurran.net. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
  38. "Rome - Augustus Caesar War - "Ancient Roman Melody Fragments" by Geoff Knorr". ISSUU. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
  39. Bloodworth, Daniel (2012-04-09). "BackTrack: Composing Mass Effect – Jack Wall Interview, Part 1 | Side Mission". GameTrailers. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
  40. "Deleyaman on last.fm". Archived from the original on 26 January 2015.
  41. "fRecord on last.fm". Archived from the original on 26 January 2015.
  42. Benoit Basirico (2005-11-14). "Gedo Senki (Les Contes de Terremer)". Cinezik.org. Retrieved 2010-02-15.

Further reading

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