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Arto Tunçboyacıyan

Arto Tunçboyacıyan (Armenian: Արտո Թունջբոյաջյան) (born 4 August 1957[1]) is a Grammy winning American[2][3] musician of Armenian descent.[4][5][6] An avant-garde folk artist (singer, multi-instrumentalist), he appeared on more than 200 records in Europe before arriving in the United States, where he went to work with numerous jazz legends including Chet Baker, Marc Johnson, Al Di Meola, and Joe Zawinul as well as a semi-regular stint with Paul Winter and the Earth Band. Arto fronts his own group called the Armenian Navy Band. He also worked with Turkish singer Sezen Aksu and the Greek singer Eleftheria Arvanitaki. His brother Onno Tunç was also a musician. He is also a member of the band Night Ark.

Arto Tunçboyacıyan
Արտո Թունջբոյաջյան
Birth nameArto Tunçboyacı
Born (1957-08-04) 4 August 1957 (age 61)
OriginIstanbul, Turkey
GenresAvant-garde, jazz, folk, Armenian folk, rock
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, record producer
InstrumentsVocals, percussion, duduk, sazabo, bular
Years active1968–present
LabelsColumbia, Serjical Strike
Associated acts


Early lifeEdit

Arto Tunçboyacıyan was born in Istanbul,[7] the son of a poor shoemaker of Armenian descent. Since childhood, music has been Arto's fundamental element of life, by which he has tried to communicate his greatest values: "love, respect and truth". The greatest musical influence of his life was his brother, the musician and composer Onno Tunç. Onno was not only his brother, but his mentor, friend, supporter and one who encouraged Arto to develop his character.[citation needed]

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

In 1981 Arto moved to the United States and settled in New York.[8] Here he performed and recorded with many well-known musicians including Paul Motian, Chet Baker, Joe Zawinul, Arthur Blythe, Wayne Shorter, Dino Saluzzi, Marc Johnson, Al Di Miola, Jim Pepper, Bob Berg, Gerardo Nunez, Mike Stern, Paul Winter, and System of a Down.


Arto started a meaningful cooperation with the 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. These compositions were a clear expression of Arto's memories of his brother. In 1988, his first solo albums "Virginland" and "Main Root" were released.[9][10]

In 1997 "Aile Muhabbeti" was released in Turkey and used as a movie soundtrack. Arto composed the songs of this new album with various Armenian and Turkish musicians. In 2000 was brought to life the next album "Every Day is a New Life".

After 35 years of exploring music on all important stages of the world, Arto Tunçboyacıyan realized that he was looking for open minded and enthusiastic musicians, with a sense of his cultural tradition, something he hadn’t found in either the Western jazz scene nor in his Anatolian homeland. Through his long-lasting and exciting musical research, Arto understood that he needed to work with musicians who were able to make his “sound worlds” finally audible in the form he had wanted for a long time and which fit his identity. Looking for answers, Arto decided to visit Armenia, the country of his ancestors. Two years later, in 1998, he returned to the capital, Yerevan and met pianist and keyboardist Vahagn Hayrapetyan, son of a well-known Armenian violinist. He asked Vahagn to introduce him to other musicians in town to find out, if eventually, he could start a new band project with them. Ten musicians got together for a first rehearsal and soon become what today is called The Armenian Navy Band. Some months later, in 1999, the band recorded their first album “Bzdik Zinvor” in Yerevan.[8] The recording was followed by their first European tour in 2000, where they gained the hearts of the audiences in Italy, Germany, Austria and Spain with their Avant-garde Folk Music. The band then performed concerts in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. During a 2001 stopover in Istanbul, The Armenian Navy Band recorded their second album “New Apricot” in 2001.[11] Since the release of their first album, the band tours regularly in Europe.

Arto's next album was "Türkçe Sözlü Hafif Anadolu Müziği" (Light Anatolian music with Turkish words) (with the Armenian Navy Band) 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).

Serart is one of his latest efforts, a collaboration between himself and Serj Tankian (singer of System of a Down), who have 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. Arto considers these albums his music diaries. They are one-hour-long compositions for the ANB and choir & string orchestras. Arto's original compositions express the sound of the past generations along with today's life. This is what he calls "avant-garde folk". We can say that the Armenian Navy Band represents the synthesis of Arto's musical journey and life experiences. As an ensemble with particular virtuosity, the band has great ability in performing live music and compositions taken from the tradition and from the current culture of Armenia. The Armenian Navy Band is to be considered the most comprehensive expression of Arto Tunçboyacıyan’s 46-year-old musical journey, of his virtuosity as a composer, multi-instrumentalist and singer, as well as of his life experience and philosophy.

In 2004 Arto Tunçboyacıyan opened the “ANB Avant-garde Folk Music Club” in the historical heart of Yerevan.[13] A year later, the band released their first Armenian album,[which?] urging the world to protect natural habitat of Armenia.[citation needed] 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 (right after the song "Aerials"), where Arto contributed, with the band playing a traditional Armenian Church hymn, Der Voghormya (Lord Have Mercy). This track is commonly known as Arto, seeing as he was a significant part of it. He also played the instrumental part of "Science" in the same album, and his voice can be heard a couple of times in the interlude of "Bubbles", from Steal This Album!

In 2007 he formed 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 the "Best New Age Album" for “Miho: Journey to the Mountain”.[16] "Music is the time of my life. I don’t give direction to anybody. I let you imagine for yourself, but what I try to give you is Love, Respect, Truth. I believe this is the simplest form of wealth in this world for the path to trust and this is what we need."[attribution needed][This quote needs a citation]


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). The band leader's unique vocals, percussion and bular intertwine to create a world where past and present are mixed.

Arto Tunçboyacıyan (percussions, vocals, bular), Anahit Artushyan (kanun), Armen Ayvazyan (kemanche) Armen Hyusnunts (tenor & soprano sax), Ashot Harutiunyan (trombone), David Nalchajyan (alto sax), 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).


Night ArkEdit

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

Arto TunçboyacıyanEdit

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
2004 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

Armenian Navy BandEdit

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


Year Album Label
2009 Nefrete Kine Karşı Arma Music

As sidemanEdit

With Paul Motian & Simon Nabatov

  • Circle the Line (GM, 1986), Bass: Ed Schuller

With Arthur Blythe

With Marc Johnson & Right Brain Patrol

With Al Di Meola

With Hank Roberts

With Paul Winter & The Earth Band

  • Journey With The Sun (Living Music, 2000) - nominated for a Grammy as “Best World Music Album”

With Human Element

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


Other appearancesEdit

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


As himself
Year Title Notes
2017 Nice Evening (Լավ Երեկո) Special guest

See alsoEdit


  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 Turkish-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. ^
  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.
  10. ^ "ARTO TUNÇBOYACIYAN". Moon and Stars Project.
  11. ^ a b c Cartwright, Garth. "Armenian Navy Band". BBC.
  12. ^ "Türkçe Sözlü Hafif Anadolu Müziği". Idelfix.
  13. ^ "Arto Tuncboyaciyan". Hommes & migrations: 113.
  14. ^ "YASH-AR nefrete ve kine karşı" (in Turkish). Taraf. Archived from the original on 2014-10-21.
  15. ^ "About Yasar Kurt".
  16. ^ "Kardeş Türküler" (PDF). 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 linksEdit