2010 Student Research Conference:
23rd Annual Student Research Conference

Armenian Sacred Music: Preserving a Culture in the Face of Persecution
Stephanie A. Koltookian
Prof. Shirley McKamie, Faculty Mentor

When Armenia became the first nation to adopt Christianity as a national religion in 314 AD, it faced intense persecution from its neighbors. In order to keep their faith alive, Armenians heavily relied on sacred music, mainly contained in the Book of Sharakan. Toward this end, the early Church depended upon the khaz system of musical notation to standardize musical practices within the church. When Armenia lost its independence to the Turks, the task of copying the neumes shifted from professional musicians to lesser-trained scribes, resulting in the loss of many hymns. Although the majority of Armenians today can no longer read the music used in Mass, there has been no movement to introduce new music into the Church. Armenians continue to cling to the sacred music that has been faithfully preserved, for it contains a strong link to their history of prosperity, as well as persecution.

Keywords: sacred music, persecution, Christianity, musical notation, Book of Sharakan, Armenia

Topic(s):Interdisciplinary

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 20-1
Location: MG 2050
Time: 9:30

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