From folk ensembles to Hollywood movies and jazz combos, Armenian duduk’s popularity grows day by day. If you are looking to become an accomplished player be prepared to study hard. First, get comfortable with having duduk in your hands and making your first sound. Second, become familiar with duduk scales and fingering. And finally, as is the case with most musical instruments, the best way to build your play is to start practicing and mastering major scales.
Needless to say that playing duduk scales can be quite different and challenging than playing scales with a piano or guitar. Being a non-tempered instrument, it presents numerous challenges to students, especially when trying to tackle semitones. While major scales are almost always the same in the notes and intervals that make them up, duduk students need extra efforts to produce correct tone. This extra effort relates to building proper embouchure, lip pressure and fingering to produce certain tones. Let’s dive into basic major scales and what is needed to properly play them.
Understanding Notation for Duduk
As you probably know, duduk comes in different keys with the most popular ones being A or Bb. Duduk sheet music is generally written at one and a half (for A duduk) or a whole (for Bb duduk) step up from duduk key to match it to the key of C. Therefore, if you notice that a piece of music is written in C Major, duduk in A will sound like A major. In the same way, if you want to perform the same piece in Bb, you have to either play it on Bb duduk (easy way) or on A duduk with different fingering and a lot of semitones (hard way). In the image below you can see how the duduk notation is written and how it sounds.
Duduk Scales – C Major
C Major scale is the easiest scale to begin your duduk studies. There are no added sharps or flats in C Major and all notes are played by removing your finger from the corresponding hole. The exception is note B. When playing the note B slightly press your lips. This reduces the amount of air flowing to instrument producing correct B note. Absolute beginners should pay attention when playing this note and verify it with correctly tuned instrument. Please watch the video below to see how C Major scale is performed correctly.
Basic Exercises in C Major
Let’s get started with your duduk journey! Below you can find some basic exercises in C major from Georgy Minasyan’s Armenian Duduk: Complete Method and Repertoire book. To develop proper playing technique please always start slow! Playing fast but incorrectly will significantly hinder your development as a musician. Start slow and once you feel you are comfortable with the scales and fingers, increase your tempo a bit.
This exercise helps student to correctly play G and F notes. Once you are comfortable playing the exercise whole notes, play this exercise as half-note, quarter note and so on.
Let’s move forward and add another note — note A.
In exercise 3 we are adding note E. If you practice it for a while, you will notice it sounds like a nice little melody. When playing the exercises be creative and experiment by making them fun to play. You can play them fast or for a longer duration than indicated in the notation.
More exercises and music
Was it fun so far? Make sure to check the duduk sheet music page to download more exercises and some nice tunes in C Major you can learn to play. All these pieces are taken from Armenian Duduk: Complete Method and Repertoire book written by Georgy Minasyan – one of the renowned Armenian duduk master players and duduk teacher.
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