Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Wheat and Crowe: Djivan Gasparyan and "Your Strong Mind"
I remember being thrilled by the movie Gladiator. As I wrote in a previous post, I love reading about ancient civilizations, so the swords and sandals movies are right up my alley. And Gladiator was a spectacle. If you've never seen the movie, Russell Crowe plays a onetime high ranking general who after falling out of favor is put into slavery and forced into gladiatorial combat. In the movie, he eventually fights the emperor Commodus, killing him but also losing his life in the bargain. From the first moment when the camera does a flyover of Rome as it looked in 192 BC, you are transported to that world. Historically, the story could have happened...save that the real emperor Commodus didn't die in the gladiatorial arena but was assassinated - he was strangled by his wrestling partner Narcissus. However, the events in the movie could have happened - Commodus was known for staging huge entertainment events and did like to fight in the gladiatorial arena himself.
The reason I'm bringing up the movie Gladiator is that today's tune, Your Strong Mind, is written and performed by Djivan Gasparyan. Gasparyan also contributed music to Gladiator, and it is very haunting. In particular, every time Russell Crowe's character flashes back to the time that he is arrested, he is walking through a field of wheat and a haunting melody is playing. That melody was Gasparyan, who plays an instrument called the duduk. Gasparyan is widely thought of as "The Master of the Duduk," a double reed woodwind instrument related to the oboe. Gasparyan has received the WOMEX Lifetime Achievement Award and has collaborated with many artists, including Hossein Alizadeh, Sting, Erkan Ogur, Michael Brook, Peter Gabriel, Brian May, Lionel Richie, Derek Sherinian, Ludovico Einaudi, Boris Grebenshchikov, David Sylvian, Hans Zimmer and Andreas Vollenweider. He and Hossein Alizadeh were nominated for a Grammy Award in 2006 for their album Endless Vision and he is the oldest person to be featured in a Eurovision song performance. Your Strong Mind, can be found on his 2013 album I Will Not Be Sad In This World.