The Mysterious Armenian Musical Notation – Khazes

The Mysterious Armenian Musical Notation

Among the many mysteries with which Armenia is rich, a special place is occupied by the khazes, the musical notation used to transcribe religious Armenian music. The khaz notation was developed in the 7th-9th centuries, presumably by poet and scholar Stepanos Syunetsi.

At the beginning of the 20th century, European and Armenian scientists began to study and decipher khazes. Musicologists who worked on deciphering the khazes proved that the signs originated on the basis of the Armenian national musical culture.

Armenian composer Komitas has made the greatest contribution to the case of deciphering the khazes. He was very close to deciphering their secrets, but alas, he did not complete his mission. According to Komitas, to decipher the signs, researchers should know Arabic, Turkish, Persian, as well as mathematics and other related sciences.

Often, architectural structures where music was intended to perpetuate a significant event were covered with khaz signs. A caravanserai located in the Artsakh Republic on the 10km segment of the Hadrut-Martuni highway has arches built in the traditional Armenian style. On the arches, there is a khaz inscription that reads: “I, Jely Ward, arrived here in the summer of 1130 (1681).”

Armenian music manuscript with khaz neumes, 12th century (Matenadaran)

Examples of khaz signs

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top