Agn, circa 1897: Makrouhy Gabrielian (née Der Ghazarian) and Nicolas Gabrielian with their children (Source: PROJECT SAVE, Armenian Photograph Archives, Watertown, MA, courtesey of Syranoush Movsesian).

Agn Songs - The Ensemble Kotchnak

Author: Virginia Pattie Kerovpyan,11/04/20 (Last modified 11/04/20)

Folk songs of Agn/Eğin [Kemaliye] and surrounding districts

“The mountains and valleys, dales and streams of Agn breathe poetry. Historical reminiscences, songs, customs: everything there is poetic” (A. A. [Arpiar Arpiarian], "People of Agn and People of Gesaria", Hairenik daily, 8 August 1891, No 22, 22nd Year, Constantinople).

This quotation conveys the prodigy of Agn's beautiful poetry. As will be seen in the following poems, the mother singing a lullaby to her little one or the villagers singing praises of the bride, all are exquisitely refined poetry using images from their pastoral surroundings.

There are many texts in the Armenian language praising the poetry of Agn. This wealth of poems includes the famous "Andouni"-s, with subjects from love to estrangement, from the praise of one's surroundings to wandering and expatriation.

The poetry deserves its praise. The music of the songs is also extraordinary, differing from that found in other areas of Armenian mountains and plains. Like the poetry, it is intricate and ornamented and brings to mind the sounds of nature: the rush and flow of water, the flutter and whirl of the wind.

The collection of melodies transcribed by Mihran Toumajan gives us a glimpse at the ephemeral musical landscape of Agn.

The Ensemble Kotchnak

The encounter in Paris in 1980 of the duo Rouben Haroutunian, tar player, and Virginia Pattie, with Aram Kerovpyan, kanoun player, was the beginning of the ensemble Kotchnak. Since then, such musicians as Mahmoud Tabrizi-Zadeh, kamancha, Edmond Zartarian, dhol and dap, Madjid Khaladj, dap, and Anouch Donabedian-Krikorian, kamancha, have been part of the ensemble. Kotchnak has performed all over Europe and the United States.

In more recent years, Kotchnak has performed mostly in a duo and trio form. Vahan Kerovpyan now plays dap with the ensemble Kotchnak and in a trio form, and Maral and Shushan Kerovpyan have also occasionally joined in.

Kotchnak's orientation has been to recognize and perform traditional Armenian folk and troubadour music as Middle Eastern monodic and modal music, using instruments of that region.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Armenians were uprooted and survivors, with their fragmented folk traditions and belongings, were scattered between the Middle East, Europe, the Americas, and even Australia and Africa. Fortunately, a few musicians and collectors, including Father Gomidas and Krikor Suny, collected many folk songs before the genocide. Later, Gomidas' students, Mihran Toumajan in particular, continued this work, visiting survivors in the Diaspora. Song collecting in Soviet Armenia was also undertaken by groups of musicologists who made important recordings and publications.

Ethnomusicologist, Bedros Alahaydoyan collected songs in the Diaspora and in Armenia in more recent years. He has published 2 volumes of songs with CD's and his recordings are now becoming available online through Houshamadyan, a living treasure for all.

These aural examples give proof, if need be, that the direction taken by Kotchnak at its beginnings was indeed the right road for rendering Armenian folk and troubadour music as a living traditional form with its roots in Asia Minor and the Caucasus.

Over Kotchnak's forty years of existence, the members have consulted songs transcribed with Western music notation and "read between the lines" to uncover the modality of the songs. These modes are shared by all the peoples of the area: Greeks, Persians, Turks, Assyrians, Kurds and so on. They each have their own approaches, languages and modal variants which influence the development of the melodies while being in a similar modal environment.

1. Agn, circa 1885: Wedding portrait of Nicolas and Makrouhy Derghazarian Gabrielian. Photo by A. F. Gabrielian (Source: PROJECT SAVE, Armenian Photograph Archives, Watertown, MA, courtesey of Syranoush Movsesian).

2. Agn, 1910. Standing, from left to right – Roza Kaboolian (nee Messomian) and Roza’s husband Kegham “John” Kaboolian. Between them sits their daughter, Arpen. She was born in 1911 or 1912 (Source: Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives, Courtesy of Arpen Kaboolian Abrahamian).

Wedding songs of Agn

This arrangement was made by the ensemble Kotchnak, and recorded in 1997.

Kotchnak, Chants Populaires Arméniens, Al Sur

with Rouben Haroutunian, tar and voice; Aram Kerovpyan, kanoun and voice; Virginia Kerovpyan, voice; Madjid Khaladj, dap.

(family and friends sing to bride)

Pari loos, aghvor, pari loos. (2X)
Pari loosoon, parin vrat,
Pari loos, aghvor, pari loos.

Pari loosoun, parin vrat. (2X)
Vor tsate arevn i vrat. (2X)

(bride sings)
Mi lar marig, mi lar, yes alva di kam,
doo doos, na nay, nay nay nay.
Dasnuhink oren al, argovus di kam,
doo doos, na nay, nay nay, nay nay nay.
Inn amis vor lumuna, kurgovus di kam, doo doos, na nay, nay nay, nay nay nay.

(groom's family sings)

Menk, ay aghvor aghchig, eger enk tseru,
doo doos, na nay, nay nay, nay nay nay.

Kez hazar nazerov goo danink meru;
Egoo kezi meru, danink nazerov,
Bahenk sharen, shabigov, aziz laterov.

(family and friends sing to groom)

Takvoru gulor poyen e, an aghvorneroon soyen e. (2X)
Takvorn erta, lokna oo ka. (2X)
Hay im hay, annuman aghvor. (2X)

(bride sings)

Mi lar, koorig, mi lar, is mi latsuner!
Is shad en latsootsadz, too mi latsuner.
Mi lar, marig, mi lar, yes alvi di kam,
Asge dasnuhink or, argovus di kam.
Darin vor lumuna, kurgovus di kam.

(groom's family sings)

Khat mu lat enk perer, gurnagut antsoor,
Kez danel enk eger, marigut latsoor.
Vodkut ooghoorov e, toon mez khuntatsoor.

TRANSLATION
(family and friends sing to bride)

Good morning, lovely bride, good light!
May light and goodness be yours.

May light and goodness be yours.
Let the sun shine upon you.

(bride sings)
Don't cry, mother, don't cry, I will be back;
In a fortnight, with my husband,
In nine months, cradling a baby in my arms.

(groom's family sings)

We have come to fetch you, lovely bride,
With a thousand wooing reverences, we come to take you to our home.

We come offering embroidered blouses
and rich fabrics.

(family and friends sing to groom)

The king (groom) has praiseworthy stature,
He is of honorable descendance.
He will bathe himself and prepare for the wedding!
He is incomparably resplendant.

(bride sings)

Don't cry, my sister, don't cry, you'll make me cry!
The others have already made me cry, don't you too! Don't cry, mother, don't cry, I'll be back.
In a fortnight with my husband, in a year, cradling a baby in my arms.

(groom's family)

We have brought you a mantle of fine cloth,
Put it over your shoulders,
We have come to accompany you to our home,
Making your mother weep.
You carry good fortune (your foot has/brings good fortune), You will bring joy to our household.

Sources
From songs collected and transcribed by Mihran Toumajan, one of Father Gomidas' students, between 1923 and 1936 (Mihran Toumajan, Hayreni Yerk ou Pan (Songs and Folklore from the Homeland), vol. 2, SSRA, Academy of Sciences Publication, Yerevan, 1983).

Transcribed songs sung by:
1. Zumroukhd Medzadourian, Plovdiv, 1923
2. Varsenig Kaboulian, New York City, 1935
3. Mama Ipranian, New York City, 1936
4. Verkin Ghazarian, New York City, 1935
5. Vartanoush Yeghigian, New York City, 1936
6. Ovsanna Ormanian, Plovdiv, 1935

Agn Lullabies

Four lullabies from Agn and the surrounding area collected and transcribed by Mihran Toumajan, one of Father Gomidas' students, between 1923 and 1936, and one variant transcribed by Gomidas Vartabed around 1895.

From Roori, book and CD of Armenian lullabies, published by the Akn Association in April 2016, Paris.

Song, Virginia Kerovpyan; kanoun, Aram Kerovpyan; illustration, Maral Kerovpyan.

Orerut Shadna [Rock-a-bye, may your days be many]

From Agn

Oror, oror, orerut shadna,
Darit medzana, ey, ey, ey.
Baghchan gabem gakhoran,
Dzare i dzar, shukern al vuran,
Dzarshuker vuran, ey, ey, ey.

Oror, oror, orim vor kunanas,
Bahim vor medznas, ey, ey, ey.
Oror ganchim, imanas;
Kam sharoogut vertsunem,
Varti numan patsver es, ey, ey, ey.

TRANSLATION
From Agn

Oror, oror, may your days be many,
May your years be plenty, ey, ey, ey.
I hang your cradle-hammock in the garden
From tree to tree, their shade upon you, ey, ey, ey.

Oror, oror, I rock you so that you sleep,
I protect you so that you grow, ey, ey, ey.
I sing you a lullaby, listen well,
I lift the veil from over your cradle,
You have blossomed like a rose, ey, ey, ey.

Aghvor es [You are precious]

Agn town version

Aghvor es, choonis khalad,
Ertam, ov piri bekhalad? Oror.
Ertam, loosungan pirim,
Loosoon asdgherun bekhalad. Ey.

Pingean/Penga [Adatepe] village version

Aghvor es, choonis khalad,
Koo amen deghut bekhalad, or, or, or.

Dzotsigt aravod numan,
Arduvan shaghign e vuran, or, or, or.

Shaghvor, yed oo yed kuna,
Vor tsate arevn i vuran, or, or, or.

Agn town version

Aghvor es, choonis khalad,
Ko amen deghut bekhalad.
Minag me khalad mi oonis,
Koon choonis, yev artoon goo genas.
Ey, ey, ey.

Barge yev anoosh koon yeghi,
Minchev ka loosn aravodoon.
Biulbiuls al g’elle kunoon,
Gesn e koon, gesn e artoon. Ey, ey, ey.

TRANSLATION
Agn town version

You are precious, you are faultless.
What can I bring you that is precious? Oror.
I'll bring you the moon,
The perfect stars of the moon, ey.

Pingean/Penga [Adatepe] village version

You are precious, you have no faults,
Everything about you is faultless.

Your countenance is like the morning,
The dew of the morning rests on it.

Moist mists retreat
So that the sun's light can shine upon you.

Agn town version

You are precious, you have no faults,
Everything about you is faultless.
There's just one little fault that you have,
You're not sleepy, you're still awake!
Ey, ey, ey.

Lie down so that sweet slumber will come
Until the morning's light.
My nightingale will then also awaken from his sleep,
Half asleep, half awake ... oror, rock-a-bye. Ey, ey, ey.
 

Oror, oreroot hamar [That your days should be many]

From Armudan [Armutlu] village, near Agn

Oror, oror, oror,
oreroot hamar, oror.
Oror, oror, oror,
orerut shadna, eynum, ey.

Oror, oror, oror,
gakhim gakhoran, oror.
Oror, oror, oror,
ulnim ki ghoorban, eynum, ey. 

Oror, oror, oror,
orant er osgi, oror.
Oror, oror, oror,
gamart ardzutoon, eynum, ey.

Oror, oror, oror,
kint e hazar osgi, oror.
Hazar dam yev uli, eynum, ey.

TRANSLATION

From Armudan [Armutlu] village, near Agn

Oror, oror, oror,
I rock you that your days, oror,
Oror, oror, oror,
that your days should be many, eynum, ey.

Oror, oror, oror,
I hang up your cradle-hammock, oror.
Oror, oror, oror,
I would give my life for you, eynum, ey.

Oror, oror, oror,
Your cradle is of gold, oror.
Oror, oror, oror,
Its canopy is of silver, eynum, ey.

Oror, oror, oror,
Your price is a thousand pieces of gold, oror.
Oror, oror, oror,
I would give a thousand and more, eynum, ey.

Bulboolu baghchan ichav [The nightingale flew into the garden]

From Pingean/Penga [Adatepe] village

Bulboolu baghchan ichav,
Giul vartin toopu taretsav, ey, ey.

Inch vart gar, kulkhoon turav,
Anoosh hodoon kunatsav, ey, ey.

Baghchan gabem gakhoran,
Dzare i dzar, dzarshuker vuran, ey, ey.

Danem kez giuli baghchan,
Varte i vart gabem gakhoran, ey, ey.

Oorineroo shooku vuran,
Tsate bood-bood arevu vuran, ey, ey.

TRANSLATION
From Pingean/Penga [Adatepe] village

The nightingale flew into the garden
Alighting upon a flowering rose bush, ey, ey.

It nestled its head amongst the roses
And slept in their sweet fragrance, ey, ey.

I will hang your cradle-hammock in the garden,
From tree to tree, their shade upon you, ey, ey.

I will take you to the rose garden,
I will hang your cradle from rose to rose, ey, ey.

The shade of the willow tree upon you,
The sun shining speckles upon you, ey, ey.

Sources

Mihran Toumajan, Hayreni Yerk ou Pan (Songs and Folklore from the Homeland), vol. 2, SSRA, Academy of Sciences Publication, Yerevan, 1983

Hunootiunk Agna, songs transcribed by Father Gomidas and Krikor Efendi Mehterian, M.T. Rodineantsi publishing, Tiflis, 1895.

Transcribed lullabies sung by:
1. Verkin Ghazarian, New York City, 1935
2. a - Hovsep Janikian, 1895
2. b - Zumroukhd Medzadourian, Plovdiv, 1923
2. c - Verkin Ghazarian, New York City, 1935
3. Ovsanna Ormanian, Plovdiv, 1935
4. Vartanoush Yeghigian, New York City, 1936

The source of the lullabies on this page is "Roori - Armenian lullabies to sleep and to put to sleep", book and CD. To purchase it, you can visit the following site:  
https://akn-chant.org/en/