‘Lousnakn Anoush’ – Komitas Vardapet

‘Lousnakn Anoush’ (Լուսնակն Անուշ) (‘Sweet is the Moon’) is pastoral song dedicated to the rising of the moon and the author’s longing to walk up the mountains. It is originally a seven stanza song, two of which are performed in the recording below.

Arranged for a polyphonic choir by Komitas, this is likely one of the folk songs which he transcribed while listening to the villagers. Mellow and uplifting, this song can be either a lullaby or a pleasant way to end the day.

Score and Text in Armenian available for download below.




















‘Havoun, Havoun’ – St. Grigor Narekatsi

‘Havoun, Havoun’ (Հավուն, Հավուն) (aka ‘To the Awakened Fowl’) is an ode composed in the 11th century by St. Grigor Narekatsi, an Armenian monk, lyrical poet and theologian residing in the region of Lake Van. It describes the Resurrection of Christ through allusions to various Biblical scenes.

The translation to its words (obtained from a lecture of Maestro Haig Utidjian) is as follows:

1 The fowl awoke and watching the pagans,
Called unto the turtle-dove, nurtured in love (and) beloved:
“Return, O thou Shulamite to the shelter of the rock.
Come, O bride, from the mountains of leopard, from the fields of roes!”
5 They come and gather at Ephraim of Bethel,
Rising up to the open space, to the vineyard of Cedron
.
Treading the wine-press — wine the color of Bozrah.
Having put wood in bread, slaughtered that which he offered up to the slaughter,
Mixing with wine — the mixture of sweet things.
10 The cup was offered as a wedding invitation.
A wedding invitation: “Come, ye new peoples,
Eat of my bread and drink my wine,
13 That ye may live through inexhaustible, endless eternity!”

Christ is depicted as The fowl [which] awoke, indicating His Resurrection, as he is watching the pagans. Some interpretations of the wood in bread (line 8) include the Cross, as well as the thorns (in the Holy Bread). The wedding invitation (line 10), parallels to the Wedding at Cana, while the quote “Come, ye new peoples, Eat of my bread and drink my wine (lines 11-12) parallels the Words of Institution for Holy Communion.

Although the song consists of 13 couplets, only the first two are traditionally performed, due to the extended, melismatic nature of each couplet. While the original melody (written in neumes by Narekatsi) is currently uninterpretable, a later version composed by Komitas Vardapet (1869 – 1935) has given this ode a new life — a resurrection, if you may.

Original manuscripts with Narekatsi’s neumes (obtained from a lecture of Maestro Haig Utidjian):

Score and Words in Armenian available for download below.




















‘New Flower’ – St. Nerses Shnorhali

This sacred song, composed in the 12th century by St. Nerses Shnorhali, is dedicated to the good news of the resurrection of Christ. The translation of the words are as follows:

A new flower that shown bright, today from the new grave.
Revealed light of resurrection, Good News.
In the darkness of the shadow of death, Good News.
Christ has arisen, Good news.

Multicolored plants of the soul have turned green with life.
Revealed light of resurrection, Good News.
In the darkness of the shadow of death, Good News.
Shoots of divine light budding from the spring of the soul.
Revealed light of resurrection, Good News.
In the darkness of the shadow of death, Good News.

Please find the arrangement with its score and recording below.

 




















‘The Sky Has Greyed’ – Komitas

‘The Sky Has Greyed’ (aka ‘Yerkinqn Ampel e’ (Երկինքն Ամպել է)) is a folk song originally arranged by Komitas as a vocal piece. It is a love song describing different scenes of the singer seeing his beloved in the cloudy weather. In the arrangement below, I have maintained the original melody and added an accompanying harmony for the piano.

Please find the arrangement with its score and recording below.

 




















‘Gorani’ – Medieval Armenian Song

‘Gorani’ is a medieval Armenian love song, centered in the village of Mush. The instrumentation and harmony added to the recording are atypical of the time period, as most instrumentation was limited to minimal percussion and harmonies were generally nonexistent. The rhythm of this song is 5/4, which is common in the Armenian, as well as in Balkan regions. In general, however, songs of this period were arhythmic, with an irregular tempo and music that was guided by the words more than by the rhythms.

Below, please find a personal arrangement of the piece with its score and recording.

 




















‘Mount Alagyaz’ – Komitas

‘Mount Alagyaz’ is a medley of two folk songs: ‘Alagyaz’ (name of mountain) and ‘Khniki Tsar’ (incense tree). It is a song describing the scenery in the daily village life with the singer’s mother, brother, the mount Alagyaz and the incense tree which grows in front of the singer’s home. Traditionally performed with a choir, this song was transformed from its original monodic form to a polyphonic version suitable for several voices.

Below, please find the score and performance this piece.

2018, UC Berkeley Armenian Choir
Directed by Marina Hovhannisyan



















‘Let there be Breeze’ – Komitas

‘Let there be Breeze’ is the title to the original songs Hov Lini & Saren Elav (Հով Լինի & Սարեն Ելավ). It is a combination of two songs describing the singer’s wish for there to be breeze in the mountains and for the loved ones to have prosperity.

This is a folk song cultivated by Komitas and later arranged for a choir. Please find the recording and scores below.




















Drinking the Toast of a Thousand Men

The words of the children endure through their childhood;
The words of wise men – lucky to touch youth.
It is not through force that prowess comes forward
And not through its gentleness that it speaks the truth.

Behold the almighty performer – the gentleman:
Time and time again he will show us how.
The toasts that we drink to his hollow existence
Seldom break a sweat on his tailored brow.

And counting the acts, we await the ending
With anticipation, we can guess the plot.
But what happens when all of the pretending Is simply the start?
Is there room for thought?

When bandits of time have bent all the arrows
And minutes pass by like seconds before,
And hours are weary, and friends are less buoyant,
And all that you look for is what washes ashore.

What happens when lovely turns into the vulgar?
Excitement begins to be drenched with regret.
And all that was beautiful, precious and holy
Is enclosed or captive, and branded with threat?

The soft silky gowns flow down my skin,
And all that I see is the young girl within.

Marina Hovhannisyan October 19, 2020

Become a Butterfly

Let love ache you,
Where there is honesty, there lies solace.
There lies comfort,
A soothing of the pain.

With the lengthy changes,
And the seamless pillars upholding consistency,
You are trapped in an illusion,
So let the pain be part of it.

Like the sun of the spring,
And the lightning of the summer,
Love — and let it ache you,
Become a butterfly, float away with heat.