Conversation with Araks Shahinyan on “Nothingness”

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences of AUA hosted a lecture on nothing on the 23rd of November. The lecture, titled “On nothing: Music as an Ultimate Nothing,” was led by Araks Shahinyan, a published author on music and a teaching associate of music at AUA, with a background in political science and linguistics.


Photo by Arpi Janyan

During the lecture, Shahinyan discussed classical music from a different, more individualistic perspective. The audience was guided through the theories on nothingness and the ways it influenced music and was influenced by music. A huge amount of literature was integrated into the lecture with an emphasis on the works of Jean Paul Sartre.  Trying to discover what music is the speaker has conducted a thorough research. One of them was the etymology of the word “music”. It turned out that it comes from a Greek word “muse” which derives from a Proto-Indo-European root of unknown origin – “MEN.” This word root is polysemantic and has the following denotations: 1) to think, 2) to mount, to tower, to put something above something else. Another interesting fact is the etymology of the Armenian word “Erazhshtutyun” (music in Armenian). The word comes from Farsi word “ferashtu” which means a swallow (the bird). The Farsi word “ferashtun” in its turn used to mean “beautiful” but in the course of the development of the language it eventually came to designate “a bird that sings only when beautiful things happen or when it sees beautiful things.


Photo by Arpi Janyan

The speaker made thought-provoking statements after which the audience started a captivating  discussion. Each of them shared their understanding of classical music on an emotional and physical level. Interesting discussion about the perception of music and stereotypes about classical music followed.

The organizers promised to continue monthly series of public lectures on classical music.  

Join the lectures if you’re interested and stay tuned for further updates.


Love and Art,

Arpi Janyan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *