Some say that mathematics is the truly universal language, while others consider music as such. And those who studied both or either might admit that music and mathematics share much of their universal appeal. Natural languages have systems of writing that need to possess some degree of order and consistency, and both music and mathematics do so as well.
Without any exaggeration, it could be said that musical notation is marked in numbers, though hearing a melody of a binomial equation may be rather uneasy.
Hampartsum Limondjian (born in Constantinople in 1768 – 1839) did not have such mathematical education when he was exposed to the adherent music of the Armenian Church. Being able to count and keep rhythm in time and having studied under various masters from many Ottoman circles, Limondjian would take on the task of the development of a system of musical notation.
“Khaz”, the older Armenian tradition of musical notation, was taken as a basis that would help Limondjian to come up with “neumes”, systems of marks that had been used before the spread of the now-common Wester musical notations. Titled “Hampartsum notasi” in Turkish, Limondjian’s notation would be widely used in writing both Turkish and Armenian music after the system’s introduction in 1813. In fact, Armenians might be the only people in the world who have published music using three different notation systems: the “khaz”, Limondjian’s system, as well as the modern five-lined Western systems.
In his time, Limondjian was also a renowned composer and performer. His works ranged from pieces contributing to the music of the Armenian Church to his Turkish songs written in the classical style of the Ottoman court.
Another famous Armenian in the world of Turkish music is Edgar Manas (1875 – 1964). Manas hailed from an old, artistic family that was to a large degree patronized by the Ottoman court. Though Manas had received most of his education in Italy, he carried out his musical activities back in the native Constantinople. He possessed a wide range of skills that allowed him to produce compositions across various genres. Manas was engaged in teaching and running Armenian choirs and groups, as well as in the musical tradition of the Armenian Church. Inspired by a variety of Western schools and styles, Manas composed classical music as well.
In Turkey, Manas is most remembered as a co-composer of the Turkish national anthem. And even though he hadn’t been the one to originally write the piece, he arranged the orchestration of “İstiklal Marşı.”