2019 (forth.) The Tones of Others. Linguistic Anthropology and Vocal Performance (coord. with Alexandra Pillen)

Contributions by Don Brenneis, Bernd Brabec de Mori, Patrick Eisenlohr, Guillerme Heurich, Miyako Inoue, Aurélie Névôt, David Parkin and Alexandra Pillen.

Routledge, New-York (under contract)

2013 Paroles mélodisées. Récits épiques et lamentations chez les Yézidis d'Arménie

AmyDeLaBreteque-ParolesMelodisees couverturecollection "Littérature, histoire, politique" (coordinated by C.Coquio, L.Campos, E.Bouju), Classiques Garnier ed, 2013. 230p. 17€. ISBN : 978-2-8124-0787-1

ParolesMelodisees Photo PremierePage

Cet ouvrage porte sur un mode ­d’énonciation dans lequel ­l’intonation normale de la parole se voit ­remplacée par des ­contours mélodiques. Chez les kurdo­phones ­d’Arménie –  en particulier les Yézidis – la parole ainsi mélodisée est toujours liée à l’évocation de la nostalgie, de ­l’exil, du sacrifice de soi et de ­l’héroïsme. Elle apparaît dans certains ­contextes rituels, dans les chants épiques, ou ­simplement au détour ­d’une phrase dans les ­conversations quotidiennes. ­S’appuyant sur des documents de terrain inédits ­consultables en ligne sur le site de la société française ­d’ethnomusicologie, ­l’auteur montre que la parole mélodisée joue pour les Yézidis un rôle central dans la construction d’un idéal de vie reliant les vivants aux absents et aux défunts.

Les documents sonores auxquels se réfère cet ouvrage sont disponibles sur le site de la SFE : cliquez ici pour y accéder.

Pour télécharger la table des matières cliquez ici. Plus d'informations sur le site de l'éditeur.

In the Kurdish-speaking communities of Armenia, mourning, exile, and heroism are expressed through a specific system of utterances. Blending ethnography, acoustic analysis, and linguistics, the author shows that this use of the voice constructs a form of ideal life linking the living to the absent and deceased. 

Audio and video documents are available here.  (More information on the publisher's website.)


Gradhiva review of Paroles mélodisées (by Jean-Charles Depaule) > available here.

Ethnomusicology review of Paroles mélodisées (by Sylvia Alajaji) > available here.

Journal of Kurdish Studies review of Paroles mélodisées (by Clémence Scalbert-Yücel) > available here.

Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford review of Paroles mélodisées (by Hrag Papazian) > available here.

Cahiers de Littérature Orale Review of Paroles mélodisées (by Carole Boidin) > available here.

Caucasus Survey review of Paroles mélodisées (by Sophie Shihab Bilderling) > available here.

TRANS Revista transcultural de Música Review of Paroles mélodisées (by Leonor Losa) > available here.

Social Anthropology Review of Paroles Mélodisées (by Lucille Lisack) > available here.

Cahiers d'ethnomusicologie Review of Paroles Mélodisées (by Maria Manca) > available here.

Articles & Book Chapters

2018 with Christine Allison (Univ. of Exeter) Princes, Thieves and Death: The Making of Heroes amongst Yezidis of Armenia

Javanmadi cover 656x1024Javanmardi. The Ethics and Practice of Persianate Perfection, L. Ridgeon (eds.), Gingko Library, 2018: 338-370.




This article discusses for the first time the production of heroic paradigms among the Kurmanji Kurdish-speaking Yezidis of Armenia and adds to the existing literature on masculinities in the Middle East and the former Soviet Union, using an approach derived from the ethnography of speaking. It identifies ciwanmêrî, a ‘traditional’ paradigm resembling the classical ‘princely virtues’ and identifies a newer contemporary paradigm coming from the post-Soviet ‘thieves in law’ model. It is not the values themselves, but the enactment of heroic feelings through the specific speech genre of kilamê ser which produces the heroes.

2017 (with Jeffers Engelhardt) Speech, song and in-between

yearbook2017 cover 300px websiteGuest editor's preface Yearbook for Traditional Music 49, X-XIV.

Click here to download the text.

2017 (with B.Doval, L.Feugère & L.Moreau-Gaudry) Liminal utterances and shapes of sadness: Local and Acoustic perspectives on Vocal Production among the Yezidis of Armenia

yearbook2017 cover 300px websiteYearbook for Traditional Music, vol 49, 129-148.

Click here to download the text.


Description: Entire Hbo audio file


Description: song (stran)
Relationship to entire Hbo audio file: 0:39.1 to 0:45.7


Description: speech (axavtin)
Relationship to entire Hbo audio file: 0:45.7 to 1:35.5


Description: “words about” (kilamê ser )
Relationship to entire Hbo audio file: 1:35.5 to 2:14.0


Description: speech (axavtin)
Relationship to entire Hbo audio file: 2:14.0 to 3:48.5


Description: non-melodized “words about” (non-melodized kilamê ser)
Relationship to entire Hbo audio file: 3:48.5 to 4:26.5

2017 « Cœurs brûlants », Paroles sur le mort et sacrifice de soi chez les Yézidis d’Arménie

terrain 68 couv small260Référence papier

« Cœurs brûlants »,Terrain, 68 | 2017, 114-119.

Référence électronique

« Cœurs brûlants », Terrain [En ligne], 68 | octobre 2017, mis en ligne le 14 novembre 2017, consulté le 20 novembre 2017. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/terrain.16327

2016 Vocalisation des émotions dans les funérailles yézidies d'Arménie

MythesRitesEmotionsMythes, rites et émotions, les funérailles sur la route de la soie, coord. A.Caiozzo, Paris, Honoré-Champion: 265-279.

Click here to download the text.

2016 (with N.Mellouli, A. Mohamed, V. A. Stoichita & H. Akdag) RMIS: Système d'extraction de connaissances à partir de données rythmo-mélodiques

Atelier Fouille de Données Complexes EGC 2016, Reims, Janvier 2016.

The outcome of our collaboration with computer scientists working on deep learning techniques. The goal of the project was to check whether an "intelligent system" (say a computer) could learn "by itself" to discriminate the traditional modes (pathet) of Javanese gamelan and what clues it would deem relevant for that. Full text available here.

2016 Self-sacrifice, Womanhood and Melodized Speech: Three Case Studies from the Caucasus and Anatolia

scanAsianMusicCoverAsian Music 47(1):29-63.

Click here to download the text.


This article explores a practice of melodized speech by senior women from the Caucasus and Anatolia and its implication in the daily lives of this region. Based on three case studies from fieldwork conducted in Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Armenia, the article shows how self-sacrifice emerged as a central theme in the worldview of elderly women. They view self-sacrifice as an ideal and melodized speech as its sonic embodiment. This article argues that women’s daily dedication in melodized speech to the remembering of the deceased and the exiled relatives is a gendered sacrificial act that helps construct self-sacrifice as a positive moral value.

Figure1 NazkhanumInTheMiddleWithHerStudents 2001 colorMullah Nazkhanum, recorded in Qobi, Azerbaijan, in 2001.



Figure3 VedihaWithHerFamily 2003 color

Vediha, recorded in Gazi (Istanbul), Turkey, in 2003.


Figure5 Shushik 2006 colorSûsîk, recorded in Rya Taze, Armenia, in 2006.


2015 Se lamenter en MP3. Supports de mémoires mobiles chez les Yézidis d'Arménie

Coll11Funeraire couverture webLe funéraire. Mémoire, Protocoles, Monuments, Actes du colloque de la MAE, coord. G. Delaplace et F. Valentin, ed. Boccard, 235-242.

Click here to download the text.

Republished in Jouer la Mort. Rituels Funéraires, Internationale de l'Imaginaire, Nouvelle Série n°30, eds. Babel, 2017: 35-48jouer la mort.

2014 (with T. Fillon, J. Simonnot, M-F. Mifune, S. Khoury, G. Pellerin, M. Le Coz, D. Doukhan, D. Fourer, J.L.Rouas, G. Pinquier & C. Barras) "Telemeta: An open-source web framework for ethnomusicological audio archives management and automatic analysis"

Proceedings of the 1st Digital Libraries for Musicology workshop (DLfM 2014). London, UK : s.n. Full text available here.

2013 with Melissa Bilal (Chicago University), "The Oror and the Lorî: Armenian and Kurdish lullabies in present-day Istanbul"

RememberingThePastCoverRemembering the Past in Iranian Societies, P.Kreyenbroek and C.Allison (eds), Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden, 125-140.

Click here to download the text.

2012 "Voices of sorrow: Melodized speech, laments and heroic narratives among the Yezidis of Armenia"

Cover Yearbook for Traditional MusicYearbook for Traditional Music 44: 129-148.

 Click here to download the text



Among the Yezidis of Armenia, sad thoughts are often narrated in a melodized tone of voice. This specific vocal register, which Yezidis call kilamê ser (“words about”), can be used in ritual contexts, especially funerals, as well as in everyday conversation. The focus of this article concerns the way Yezidis conceptualize voice production, their experience of an emotional investment in melodized speech, and the status of words enunciated in this manner. An analysis of melodized speech reveals a rich aesthetic of suffering in which shared memories are shaped by sound and poetics.

Documents discussed in the article

Example 1

Hasmig's melodized speech. Field recording, september 2006, Rya Taze (Armenia). 

Example 2

Hbo's kilamê ser performance without melodization. Field recording, February 2007, Alagyaz (Armenia).

2012 with Victor A. Stoichita (CNRS), "Musics of the New Times: Romanian Manele and Armenian Rabiz as Icons of Post-communist Changes"

Balkans and Caucasus coverThe Balkans and the Caucasus: Parallel Processes on the Opposite Sides of the Black Sea, I.Biliarsky, O.Cristea and A.Oroveanu (eds), Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 321-335.

Click here to download the text.

2011 "Le pleur du duduk et la danse du zurna: essai de typologie musicale des émotions dans la communauté yézidie d’Arménie"

Cover_ActaEthnographicaHungaricaActa Ethnographica Hungarica, 56 (2):385-401. 

LaVoixActee CoverPageRepublished in La voix actée. Pour une nouvelle ethnopoétique, C.Calame, F.Dupont, B.Lortat-Jacob and M.Manca eds. Kimé, 2010: 175-194.



By analyzing enunciation in performance, this article shows the similarities among funeral laments, epic songs, exile songs and the playing of the duduk (oboe). Regarded as “words on” (kilamê ser), these four types of enunciation share melodic, metric, gestural and emotional elements. According to local typologies, the “words on” are opposed to songs (stran), a term referring mostly to wedding music and the zurna (oboe). The opposition between word and song is also related to a series of antinomic couples, such as exile vs. household, sadness vs. joy, or duduk vs. zurna. An analysis of these music and enunciation typologies of emotion allows an approach to Yezidi ritual and calendar time.

Click here to download the text.

2010 "Des affects entre guillemets : Mélodisation de la parole chez les Yézidis d’Arménie"

Cahiers d'ethnomusicologie 23Cahiers d’ethnomusicologie 23 :131-145, Geneva. 

 Click here to download the text.


Document discussed in the article

Lament sung by Altun in Alagyaz (Armenia). Field recording by myself (2007).

2008 "Chants pour la maisonnée au chevet du défunt: La communauté et l’exil dans les funérailles des Yézidis d’Arménie"

Frontieres Vol. 20 No. 2Frontières 20(2): 60-66 (with a CD), Montréal. 

Click here to download the text.




In Armenia’s Yezidi villages, funerals are particularly important in the life of the community. First of all, they help the passage from the “here” to the “elsewhere”. Further, they allow, in multiple ways, the continuity and reaffirmation of the household (mal) as well as of the community in all. The notion of exile, literal or metaphoric, is omnipresent in the laments, and always entails a specific emotional state : pain of loss. This pain is seen as “communal , and is mainly communicated through the laments' words, gestures and attitudes.

Documents discussed in the article

Example 1

Lament sung by Hasmig at Rya Taze, Aparan (Armenia). Field recording by myself (2007).

Example 2

Lament on Çekoê Xidir composed and sung by Jono Temuryan. Studio recording.

2005 "Femmes mollah et cérémonies féminines de deuil en Azerbaïdjan"

Cahiers des musiques traditionnelles vol. 18Cahiers de musiques traditionnelles 18 : 51-66, Geneva.

Click here to download the text.

Kedistan - un web magazine sur le Moyen-Orient

Chronique sur le web magazine Kedistan

kedistan profil logo 230x230Depuis 2016 je tiens une chronique sur Kedistan - "le petit magazine qui ne se laisse pas caresser dans le sens du poil". Ce web magazine à l’esprit original et libertaire traite de l’actualité du Moyen-Orient en général, de la Turquie en particulier, des chats, et de culture subméditerranéenne.

Pour accéder directement aux articles de ma chronique cliquez ici. Pour accéder à la page d'accueil de Kedistan cliquez ici.

Interviews & translations

2013 with Victor A. Stoichita (CREM/LESC-CNRS), "Trois continents, une passion", interview with Salwa El-Shawan Castelo-Branco

CAHIERS 26 Couv Cahiers d'ethnomusicologie 26:239-252.

Click here to download the text.

2012 “Il y a quand même de l'espoir”, interview with Emerîk Serdar.

Etudes Kurdes vol. 11Études Kurdes 11: 103-108, Paris.

Click here to download the text.

2012 "Le postier"

Etudes Kurdes vol. 11Short story by Emerîk Serdar. Original title : "Почталион". Translated from Russian for Études Kurdes 11: 109-118, Paris.

Click here to download the text.

2012 with Christine Allison (University of Exeter), "Je viendrai en secret"

Etudes Kurdes vol. 11Poem by Xaylaz Reşit Mîrzoeva. Original title : "Dizikava ezê bêm". Translated from Kurdish for Études Kurdes 11: 120-121, Paris.

Click here to download the text.

2012 with Christine Allison (University of Exeter), "Je suis un exilé"

Etudes Kurdes vol. 11Poem by Mraz Cemal. Original title : "Xerîbim". Translated from Kurdish for Études Kurdes 11: 119, Paris.

Click here to download the text.

2005 “Feleknaz Esmer et Gazin, chanteuses kurdes”

Filmed interview (21 min 41). Mondomix production/Cité de la Musique. Click here to watch the interview.

Other contributions

2018 "Debussy et le gamelan" Booklet for Debussy-Boulez concert at the Philharmonie de Paris

Concert28Janv2018Philharmonie GambirsawitOrchestre Les Siècles, direction François-Xavier Roth

Grande salle Pierre Boulez, Philharmonie de Paris, 28 janvier 2018.

Click here to download the text.

2012 "Harmonies arméniennes"

cite musique70 coverLa revue de la Cité de la musique 70: 28-29. 

Click here to download the text.

2012 Booklet for Armenian music concerts

Cité de la musique - L'Arménie, mémoires au présent . 27th of  November -1st of December. 16p. Click here to download the booklet.

2011 PhD Summary

cahiers-d-ethnomusicologie-24-questions-dethique coverCahiers d'ethnomusicologie 24: 308.

Summary of my doctoral thesis: La passion du tragique. Paroles mélodisées chez les Yézidis d'Arménie (2010).

Click here to download the text.

2005 Conception and coordination of Feleknaz Esmer and Gazin's concert at the Cité de la musique

This concert was organized for the festival "Destins kurdes" (25-27 Feb) in Paris. Watch below a teaser of the concert.


2005 Contribution on musics from Azerbaijan (mugam, ashug…)

Multimedia presentation of the audio and video archive of the Cité de la Musique, Paris.

2005 "Η μουσική του γκαμελάν και οι κύκλοι της ζωής" [Gamelan music and the cycles of life]

Highlights CouvHighlights 17 : 186-191, Athens.

Click here to download the text.

2003 "Fatima’s Song – Песня Фатимы"

IRS ScannedCoverIRS 5: 48-49, Baku.


2010 (PhD) La passion du tragique. Paroles mélodisées chez les Yézidis d’Arménie

Cover Page (Photo by Onnik Krikorian)Defended on 9th of November 2010 at University Paris Ouest-La Défense (LESC-CREM CNRS UMR 7186). Supervised by Prof. Raymond Jamous.

This doctoral thesis in anthropology was awarded the highest distinction by French academic conventions ("Mention très honorable avec les félicitations du jury à l'unanimité"). Jury: Prof. Christine Allison (University of Exeter), Prof. Raymond Jamous (CNRS), Dr. Jean Lambert (Muséum d'histoire naturelle), Dr. Rosalia Martinez (University Paris 8), and Prof. Claire Mouradian (CNRS).

This dissertation is about melodised speech among the Yezidis in Armenia. On the dividing line between music and language, this specific sound register, which the Yezidis call "words on" (kilamê ser), is linked to feelings of sadness. It consists primarily of spoken words, melodised in ritual contexts (such as the funerals) but also in daily life conversations. The term is also used to describe the play of the duduk (oboe). This way of using sounds is of particular interest for the Yezidis, and although they do not consider it as "music", it is not rare to find kilamê ser recorded on tapes and compact disks on the local markets.

The analysis of the formal and performative characteristics of the kilamê ser shows how this specific use of speech constructs a sonic space where emotions are shared. It serves as a linchpin for Yezidi conceptions of exile, sacrifice, heroism and mourning. Beyond individual catharsis, melodised words transform absence into presence, and integrate death to the life of the community.

The argument developed in the text is illustrated by a large corpus of field documents presented on a multimedia DVD.

Click here to access the text (pdf) 

and here for the related audiovisual documents (hosted by the Research Center for Ethnomusicology of the CNRS).

2004 (MA2) Lamentations de femmes kurdes déplacées. Les chemins de l'identité kurde en Turquie aujourd'hui

Kurdish refugees in Istanbul's suburb - 2003 (Photo Estelle Amy de la Bretèque).Masters thesis in Ethnomusicology defended at Paris VIII University. Supervised by Dr. Rosalia Martinez.

In 2003-2004, I conducted research in Turkey on Kurdish displaced Women's narratives of war and exile. Fieldwork was conducted in the suburb of Istanbul and Diyarbakir among Kurdish refugees during a four-month period.


Click here to acces the text (pdf)

and here for the related audio documents (hosted by the Research Center for Ethnomusicology of the CNRS).

2002 (MA1) Femmes mollah et cérémonies de deuil. Péninsule d'Apchéron - Azerbaïdjan

Visit at the cemetery, Govsan 2001 (Photo Estelle Amy de la Bretèque).Maîtrise in Ethnomusicology defended at Paris VIII University. Supervised by Dr. Rosalia Martinez.

This research conducted on women’s mourning ceremonies took place in 2001-2002. During this period I conducted fieldwork in the Apsheron peninsula.


Click here to acces the text (pdf)

and here for the related audio documents (hosted by the Research Center for Ethnomusicology of the CNRS).

2002 (MA1) Molokanes de Transcaucasie. Survie d'une identité

Molokans in Kirovka - Azerbaijan - 2001 (Photo Estelle Amy de la Bretèque).Maîtrise in Slavic Studies defended at Paris VIII University. Supervised by Prof. Annie Epelboin.

For this research I conducted fieldwork in Azerbaijan (2001-2002) among the Molokans, a Russian Christian sectarian community exiled to the Caucasus under Catherine the Great.


Click here to download the text (pdf)

and here for the related audio documents (hosted by the Research Center for Ethnomusicology of the CNRS).