Tsolak Jan (Komitas) A girl, acting coy, teases her young admirer. She calls attention to her lushly embroidered dress, mentions her disapproving father, and shows off the gold ring already offered to her beneath a shady tree.
Nino (Folk, Van) On the skirts of Mount Alagyaz a young man sings, “Can I kiss you Nino? May I tickle you? Can we at least play a round of jacks?” Nino denies all to a smitten young man from Van and has a grand old time while he sits, watching her glumly.
Vai Le (Folk, Javakhk) Yana yana: you are standing there, so hot, hot. May the winds cool you—and blow open your shirt revealing your décolletage... Boyitmadagh: I would die for your tall beauty. My heart is burning; if anyone steals you from me, may his house go up in flames.
Mogats Harsner (Folk, Mokks) The brides of Mokks have come, their hair woven with golden threads, their faces glowing like moonlit mountaintops. An older melody in the traditional Mokks dialect begins the song and is overtaken by its more popular variation. The song concludes with a haunting return to the original melody, in which the brides face the absence of waiting grooms.
Yes Aghchig Em (Melody: Altounian, Lyrics: Hovhannisyan ) A courting song between a conceited young girl and her wide-eyed admirer. He praises her black beauty mark, her stature, and her poise. She reminds him that he is too young and that her father has never even heard of him. To this, the boy retorts that once her father gets to know him, he will gladly call him son-in-law.
Zepyur Barev Dar (Ashoogh Havasi) Troubadour Havasi, far from his homeland, places his wishes for his love’s long life onto the western winds. “Sweet winds of spring, you have made the gardens flower. Now go to my motherland. Zephyr, take my greetings and the sun’s light to my love.”
Mer Dan Idev (Folk, Shadakh) A meditative melody that evokes the idea of shared earth, of common ground. “Behind our house, behind your house, are fields of honey lotus. We harvest barley from the mountain Arnos, which we trade for red apples to mark our wedding day.
Mer Dan/Vai Vaveler (Folk, Van) Behind our house are fields of honey lotus where horses graze. Behind our house are bushes of rosehip. Behind our house lovers find refuge in a barn. “Sprinkle water on dough. Send word to my sister-in-law: May destruction come to the man who dare take you from me.”
Yes Boojoor Em (Melody: Folk, Lyrics: Hovhannisyan) Three girls see themselves as the perfect catch, rattling off their attributes to anyone who will listen: “I am a flower glittering with dew.” “My eyes are as deep as oceans.” “ I am a fresh drink of rose water.” “My skin is like apricot.” “When men see me during the day, they lie awake at night in pain.”
Tamzara (Dance Song, Palu) In the upper gardens lined with pear trees, boys tip their hats to the fair ladies who entrance them with their lovely hair. Dance the Tamzara and move your shoulders. In the Tamzara, lovers find each other... The name of this dance in 9/8 comes from that of a former Armenian village in present-day Turkey. The Tamzara originated in the days of the ancient Assyrians' conquest of Armenia; they honored “Tammuz” (the god of food and vegetation) through dance.
Shogher Jan (Komitas) Shogher Jan maps the course of love by way of the seasons. Fiery and cloudy skies play above as Shogher is summoned from the mountains. The chorus of this song is an ode to her swaying gait.
Lili (Folk, Sasoon) Lili’s beauty inspires a man to climb onto her roof to catch a glimpse of her in slumber. In the morning he wakes all of the village girls with his love song for Lili, but she remains hidden. With half a heart he makes his fumbling way home. Hopeless, he attends a wedding in order to forget about her and ends up singing the story of his woes.
Manchus (Melody and Lyrics: Armen Movsisyan) A man lays incense on the fire and as the smoke rises, his stuttering son asks, “Father, where does the wind go?” The father answers, “It goes to the crack in the forgotten wall, to our grandfather’s barren fields. How I long to see the reflection of our mountains in my son’s clear eyes. How I long for the winds to come down from the mountains, envelop us, and take us home.”
Ha Nina (Folk, Sasoon) In Sasoon, the smoke from the tonir (earthen oven) rises, marking the start of the day. “Nina, your beauty marks and eyes are like the treasures of the sun and moon. Oh, Nina, it’s you and me together.”
Jojan (Melody: Folk, Lyrics: Harootiunian) Kamin yana: May the hot winds blow and cool my burning heart. Kamin zana: May the gusting winds blow open your shirt. My love, my rose, you are the nightingale that sings in the fields of my heart.
Thank you to Herand and Janet Markarian for help with lyrics translations.