Born in New York City on Christmas
day 1933, Armen began the
study of drums at the age of 12. By 17 he was playing professionally
and traveling throughout the United States. At age 20 he did his stint
in the Army
for 2 years where he played and taught in the band. After
his discharge he joined the Marian McPartland Trio for 6 months. He
decided to stay in New York to crystallize his musical ideas and concepts
for making drums and percussion instruments while sustaining himself by
working as an apprentice in a photo-engraving shop.
On the road, Armen gathered knowledge of
his instrument, gradually discovering its role in cultures around the world.
Back home his ideas crystallized and he began to acquire some of the unusual
percussion instruments he'd heard of. Starting with gongs, bells and
the dumbeg, reflecting his Armenian heritage, he expanded into Middle
Eastern, African, Asian and South American instruments. As Armen grew
versatile in their use he became aware of the vast range of possibilities in
their combined assemblage and developed an original panorama of instruments.
Onstage, his array of percussion instruments resembles a magician's
workshop where Armen weaves among his tools, responding to the atmosphere of
the moment. Here he creates sheets and clusters of sound, adding new
flavor to the rhythms and expanding the dimensions of the composition.
His music has colored many setting, from solo concerts to symphony
orchestras, from church services in New York to record sessions with
Buddhist monks in Japan.