(Kotchnak, in Armenian)


2009, March 7: Kotchnak will be playing at the péniche Anako
Bassin de la Villette, across from 61, quai de la Seine 75019 Paris
Metro : Riquet, Stalingrad or Jaurès

(photography of the Ensemble)

Kotchnak, founded in 1976, performs traditional Armenian folk songs as well as songs by ashoughs, or troubadours, especially those of Sayat Nova who lived in the 18th century.

Kotchnak has performed in numerous cities of Europe and North America.

Kotchnak specializes in the modal and monophonic interpretation of Armenian music.

Ensemble based in Paris.

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info at kotchnak dot org

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   Photo: Marc Pirollo


Virginia Kerovpyan, singer

Anouch Donabédian, kamancha

Rouben Haroutunian, târ, singer

Aram Kerovpyan, kanoun

Vahan Kerovpyan, percussion

CD cover)


1997:Kotchnak.CD. Armenian Folk Songs. Al Sur Collection (ALCD228). Award: Le Choc du Mois, November 1998, Le Monde de la Musique (France).

sample 1 (mp3) sample 2 (mp3) sample 3 (mp3) sample 1 (aif) sample 2 (aif) sample 3 (aif)

CD cover)

2000:Kotchnak.CD. Songs of Sayat Nova, 18th century Armenian troubadour. Al Sur Collection (ALCD265).
sample 1 (mp3) sample 2 (mp3) sample 1 (aif) sample 2 (aif)

1983: Ensemble de musique arménienne.
Songs of Sayat Nova, Ocora 558608.

1987:Kotchnak.Armenian Folk Songs
Collected by Father Komitas.

Ensemble membres


Virginia Pattie Kerovpyan, the female vocalist of the ensemble, was born in Washington, D.C. While in the USA, she studied singing and sang in various chorales and early music ensembles as both chorist and soloist. Upon her arrival in France, she continued her voice studies at the École Normale Supérieure de Musique de Paris and at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique. Virginia Pattie Kerovpyan has performed and recorded with early music ensembles such as Les Arts Florissants, Ensemble Guillaume de Machaut de Paris, Per Cantar e Sonar, l'Offrande Musicale, La Grande Écurie et la Chambre du Roy. In 1976, she formed with Rouben Haroutunian the duo that would later become Kotchnak and in 1985 helped to form the ensemble of Armenian liturgical chant, Akn


Anouch Donabédianwas born in Marseille, France. She learned to play kamancha with master musician Gaguik Mouradian of Armenia. After working with various music ensembles, both Armanian and French, she joined Kotchnak in 1999. 


Rouben Haroutunian was born in Teheran, Iran. At an early age, he learned to play violin and classical guitar. Arriving in France in 1972, he continued his musical studies with Xavier Hinajosa for classical guitar and with Jose Peña for flamenco guitar. In 1975, he joined the early music ensemble, Eptachordio. Then in 1976, Rouben Haroutunian and Virginia Pattie formed a duo of Armenian music that later became the ensemble Kotchnak. He taught himself to play the târ, and then studied with the master musician Dariush Tala'i, adopting the târ as his favorite instrument. With the oral tradition deeply rooted in his family, he has developed his own Armenian singing style parallel to his work as an instrumentalist.  


Aram Kerovpyan was born in Istanbul, Turkey. As a youth, he received liturgical chant training in the Armenian Church. He learned to play the kanoun and studied the Middle Eastern music system with Master musician Saadeddin Öktenay. In 1977, Aram Kerovpyan moved to Paris where he devoted himself entirely to music, playing with various Middle Eastern musicians. In 1980, Aram Kerovpyan joined the Ensemble de Musique Arménienne that later became the ensemble Kotchnak. From this date on, Armenian music became his principle field of research, particularly the modal system of liturgical chant. In 1985, he formed the ensemble of Armenian liturgical chant, Akn. Parallel to his activities as a musician, Aram Kerovpyan participates in conferences and seminars, and lectures in Europe and in North America and regularly publishes articles and works on the subject of Armenian modal music theory. 


Born in Paris, Vahan Kerovpyan started playing drums at an early age, studying dehol with Edmond Zartarian and zarb and dap with Madjid Khaladj. He also plays jazz piano and percussions, and sings with the Armenian liturgical choir, Akn. He joined Kotchnak in 2003.  

Armenian Singing

Since 1981, Virginia Pattie Kerovpyan has conducted research on the modal system and vocal technique of Armenian singing. Over this period, she has developed a singing style and use of ornamentation that expresses the intrinsic musicality of the Armenian language: dialects in folk and troubadour music and classical Armenian for liturgical chant. Her interpretation confirms the modality of Armenian singing and opens up new possibilities of discovery and transmission of the essence of this music. 


The kamancha, played throughout the Near East, is a spiked fiddle with a small spherical sound box made of hollowed out apricot wood covered with goat or lamb skin, a long metal spike and a neck. The four strings are stretched over a bridge placed on a diagonal on the skin of the sound box and are secured by lateral pegs. The hair of the primitive bow is tightened by the player's fingers. The conical form of the neck allows the player to change strings by rotating the instrument. 


A plucked stringed instrument which Iranian historians think to be a descendant of the tambour, a long-necked lute once very common in Iran. The târ has a double-bellied sound box usually hollowed out of a single piece of mulberry wood, with a rather long neck made of walnut wood, on which are placed moveable gut string ligatures. The sound box is covered with lamb-skin. Three pairs of metal strings, usually tuned fifth-fourth, are plucked with a copper plectrum set into a piece of wax to facilitate handling. The târ is a popular instrument amongst the Iranians, the Azerbaijanis and the Armenians. The Caucasian târ is distinguished by its different sound. This is due to a modified form of the sound box, to the playing technique and to the number of strings. The Caucasian târ has a shallower sound box with a flatter bottom than that of the Iranian. 


A plucked stringed instrument in the form of a trapezoidal rectangle, the kanoun is named after the Greek kanòn, the monochord that was used to explain the laws of acoustics. It is first mentioned in the "Thousand and One Nights" tales. Some attribute it to Farabî, while others trace it back to Sumer and ancient Egypt. The wooden sound box of the kanoun is 4-6 cm deep. The bridge, made of one piece of wood, is placed on four juxtaposed camel or goat skins placed next to each other and stretched over the right side of the instrument. The strings, tuned in groups of threes, are fixed onto pegs on the left side of the instrument. They are made of gut strings or hard nylon and are plucked with plectra fixed to the index fingers by rings. 


The dap, a favoured percussion of the Armenian ashoughs, is a sort of tambourine usually measuring 30-40 centimeters in diameter and 4-6 centimeters in depth. Jingles are attached to the inside of the wooden frame which is covered by a calfskin. It is held in the left hand and played with the fingertips of both hands. From Asia Minor to Central Asia, the dap was illustrated in medieval miniature paintings. It is still widespread in those regions, both in their classical and troubadour music.