Arto Tunçboyacıyan

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Arto Tunçboyacıyan
Արթօ Թունճպոյաճեան
Birth nameArto Tunçboyacı
Born (1957-08-04) 4 August 1957 (age 66)
OriginIstanbul, Turkey
GenresAvant-garde, jazz, folk, Armenian folk, rock
Occupation(s)Singer, musician, songwriter
Instrument(s)Vocals, percussion, duduk, sazabo, bular
Years active1968–present
LabelsColumbia, Serjical Strike (archived)

Arto Tunçboyacıyan (Armenian: Արտո Թունջբոյաջյան; Western Armenian: Արթօ Թունճպոյաճեան, romanized: Art'ō T'unjpoyajean; born August 4, 1957[1]) is an Armenian American[2][3] avant-garde folk and jazz multi-instrumentalist and singer of Armenian descent.[4][5][6] He fronts his own group called the Armenian Navy Band, and is also a member of the instrumental quartet Night Ark.

Tunçboyacıyan had appeared on more than 200 records in Europe before arriving in the United States, where he went on to work with numerous jazz musicians including Chet Baker, Marc Johnson, Al Di Meola, and Joe Zawinul, as well as performing semi-regularly with Paul Winter and the Earth Band. He has worked with Turkish singer Sezen Aksu and the Greek singer Eleftheria Arvanitaki. Tunçboyacıyan's elder brother Onno Tunç was also a musician, and they have collaborated on several occasions.

Early life[edit]

Arto Tunçboyacıyan was born in Istanbul, Turkey[7] His father was a shoemaker of Armenian descent.

At the age of 11, he began his career playing and recording traditional Anatolian music with various musicians, including his brother Onno Tunç, thus establishing himself as a professional musician throughout Turkey and Europe.

In 1981, Tunçboyacıyan moved to the United States and settled in New York.[8]


Arto started an association with Armenian-American oud player Ara Dinkjian. In 1985, the quartet Night Ark was founded and led by Ara Dinkjian.[9] Arto recorded the duo project with Ara Dinkjian "Tears of Dignity" (1994) and "Onno" (1996) homage to his brother Onno who died in a plane crash in 1996.

In 1988, his solo albums Virginland and Main Root were released.[9][10] In 1997 Aile Muhabbeti was released in Turkey and used as a movie soundtrack. He composed the songs with Armenian and Turkish musicians. In 2000 he released Every Day is a New Life.

In 1998, Tunçboyacıyan returned to the Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, and met pianist and keyboardist Vahagn Hayrapetyan. They soon organised a rehearsal in order to recruit musicians to start a band. Ten local musicians were enlisted, thus becoming the Armenian Navy Band.

Some months later, in 1999, the band recorded their first album, called Bzdik Zinvor, in Yerevan.[8] The recording was followed by their first European tour in 2000, in Italy, Germany, Austria and Spain. The band then performed concerts in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. During a 2001 stop in Istanbul, the Armenian Navy Band recorded their second album, New Apricot, in 2001.[11]

Armenian Navy Band's next album was Türkçe Sözlü Hafif Anadolu Müziği (English: Light Anatolian Music With Turkish Words), recorded in the winter of 2001.[12]

Tunçboyacıyan's 2001 album Aile Muhabbeti was used as soundtrack in two films: Hemşo (2001) and Mon père est ingénieur (2004).

The 2003 album Serart is a collaboration with Serj Tankian of System of a Down. They found common ground in shared Armenian backgrounds and a passion for sonic explorations in creating music that is claimed to be "completely new."

In the fall of 2003, a new project was born in a Yerevan studio. It was the beginning of a large sound project called "Sound of Our Life – Part One: Natural Seeds". The project was put together by Arto and the Armenian Navy Band, who joined their talents one more time in the fall of 2006 for Part Two. They are hourlong compositions for the ANB and choir and string orchestras.

In 2004, Tunçboyacıyan opened the ANB Avant-garde Folk Music Club in Yerevan.[13] In 2006, the Armenian Navy Band was nominated for Best Band of Europe and the Audience Award at the 2006 BBC World Music Awards.[11]

There is a hidden track on the album Toxicity by System of a Down where Arto contributed with the band to a traditional Armenian Church hymn, "Der Voghormya (Lord Have Mercy)". He played the instrumental part of "Science" on the same album, and his voice can be heard in the interlude of "Bubbles" from Steal This Album!

In 2007 he formed the group Yash-Ar with fellow Turkish-Armenian rock artist Yaşar Kurt.[14] Yash-Ar is made up of first part of his and Yaşar Kurt's first names.[15]

In February 2011, Arto Tunçboyacıyan, as a band-member of The Paul Winter Consort, won the Grammy for Best New Age Album for Miho: Journey to the Mountain.[16]

Armenian Navy Band[edit]

The Armenian Navy Band lineup varies from traditional (duduk, zurna, kemanche, kanun) to contemporary (trombone, alto sax, tenor, soprano sax, trumpet, bass, drums, keyboard and piano) instrumentation. The band plays a mixture of adapted and modern Armenian folk music. (Note that, being landlocked, the country of Armenia has no navy.)

  • Arto Tunçboyacıyan (percussion, vocals, bular)
  • Anahit Artushyan (kanun)
  • Armen Ayvazyan (kemanche)
  • Armen Hyusnunts (tenor and soprano saxophone)
  • Ashot Harutiunyan (trombone)
  • David Nalchajyan (alto saxophone)
  • Tigran Suchyan (trumpet)
  • Norayr Kartashyan (blul, duduk, zurna)
  • Vardan Grigoryan (duduk, zurna)
  • Arman Jalalyan (drums)
  • Vahagn Hayrapetyan (piano, keyboards)
  • Artyom Manukyan (bass, cello)
  • Vardan Arakelyan (bass)
  • Gagik Khodavirdi (guitar)
  • Vahram Davtyan (trombone)



Year Album With other artist(s) Label
1989 Virgin Land Keytone/Svota Music
1994 Main Roots
1996 Tears of Dignity Ara Dinkjian Svota Music
1998 Onno
Triboh M. P. de Vito and R. Marcotulli PoloSud
Avci Svota Music/Imaj Müzik
2000 Every Day Is a New Life Living Music/Earth Music Production
2001 Aile Muhabbeti Svota Music
2003 Serart Serj Tankian Serjical Strike/Columbia
2003 Türkçe Sözlü Hafif Anadolu Müziği Imaj Müzik/Svota Music/Heaven and Earth
2005 Artostan Svota Music/Heaven and Earth
Love Is Not in Your Mind
2006 Le Voyage en Arménie

Armenian Navy Band[edit]

Year Album Label
1999 Bzdik Zinvor Svota Music
2001 New Apricot
2004 Sound of Your Life Part I - "Natural Seeds" Svota Music/Heaven and Earth
2006 How Much Is Yours? Svota Music
2009 Under Your Thoughts Svota Music
2013 Sound of Our Life — Part 2: "Ethno Dispensary" D. SVOTA MUSIC/llc Avant-Garde Folk Music Production
Simple Like Water, Deep Like Water

Night Ark[edit]

Year Album Label
1986 Picture RCA/Novus
1988 Moments
1998 In Wonderland PolyGram
2000 Petals on Your Path EmArcy
Treasures Traditional Crossroads


  • Nefrete Kine Karşı (Arma Music, 2009)

As sideman[edit]

With Ron Getz

  • Ego State (Alithea Records, 1988)

With Arthur Blythe

With Al Di Meola

With Human Element

  • Human Element (Abstract Logix, 2011)
  • You Are In You (Human Element Music, 2018)

With Marc Johnson & Right Brain Patrol

With Paul Motian & Simon Nabatov

  • Circle the Line (GM, 1986)

With Hank Roberts

With Paul Winter & The Earth Band

  • Journey With The Sun (Living Music, 2000)

Other appearances[edit]

Year Artist Song Album
2001 System of a Down feat. Arto Tunçboyacıyan "Science" Toxicity
2002 "Bubbles" Steal This Album!
2003 Wax Poetic feat. Norah Jones and Arto Tunçboyacıyan "Angels" Nublu Sessions
2011 Kargin Studio «Alabalanitsa» «Alabalanitsa Soundtrack»
2012 maNga "Hoş Geldin" e-akustik


  • 2017: Nice Evening (Լավ Երեկո), special guest, as himself



  1. ^ The profile of Arto's album "Everyday is a new life" on FolkWorld CD Reviews
  2. ^ Ziflioglu, Vercihan (4 July 2009). "Melodies flow with cool water of Bosphorus". Hurriyet.
  3. ^ "Singing songs of fraternity in New York for peace". Hurriyet Daily News. The ensemble lineup will also feature Istanbul's Arto Tunçboyacıyan, the Grammy-winning musician of Armenian descent on percussions and vocals.
  4. ^ "System's Tankian Explores His Roots With Serart". March 13, 2003. For the 46 year-old Tuncboyaciyan, whose Armenian heritage placed his family in the minority of Turkey's contentious political environment,...
  5. ^ "Artists against hatred, animosity". Hurriyet. ISTANBUL – Arto Tunçboyacıyan, a famous musician and composer of Armenian origin who lives in the United States,
  6. ^ "Arto Tuncboyaciyan and Armenian Navy Band". Rge Moscow News. Born in Turkey of Armenian descent, the multi-instrumentalist Tuncboyaciyan emigrated to the United States about 30 years ago and set up one of the best folk and ethnojazz bands of its time.
  7. ^ "Sinema Türk".
  8. ^ a b Tchilingirian, Hratch (1999). "The Navy Band" (PDF). Armenian International Magazine. 10 (6): 67.
  9. ^ a b "Arto Tunçboyaciyan (Mr. Avant-Garde Folk)". Official Website of Arto Tuncboyaciyan. Archived from the original on 2015-06-30. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  10. ^ "ARTO TUNÇBOYACIYAN". Moon and Stars Project. Archived from the original on 2014-10-21. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  11. ^ a b c Cartwright, Garth. "Armenian Navy Band". BBC.
  12. ^ "Türkçe Sözlü Hafif Anadolu Müziği". Idelfix. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  13. ^ "Arto Tuncboyaciyan". Hommes & Migrations: 113. 2004.
  14. ^ "YASH-AR nefrete ve kine karşı" (in Turkish). Taraf. Archived from the original on 2014-10-21.
  15. ^ "About Yasar Kurt". Archived from the original on 2014-01-01. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  16. ^ "Kardeş Türküler" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2014-10-17. Tunçboyacıyan is the music director of Kardeş Türküler's latest album Cocuk Hakli (The Kid is Right). He was recently afforded the honor of the 2011 Grammy® Award for Best New Age Album, Miho: Journey to the Mountain with Paul Winter Consort. Kardeş Türküler and Arto Tuncboyaciyan had several concerts in İstanbul, Diyarbakır, Antep, İzmir, Mersin, Eskişehir, Berlin, Mülcheim and New York.
  17. ^ Serj Tankian at the 5th AMAs 2002 presenting the UNITY award to Arto on YouTube

External links[edit]