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  • Horovel - Vol. I - Traditional Work Songs of Armenia

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P & C December 1998
- Face Music / Albi

- last update 07-2009

 - FM 50046 - P & C 2007
more information songs - in German - see: Ensemble Karot

1. Aparani Horovel - Horovel of Aparan - Aparan - 4:55
2. Sand Kdzedzim - I strike the threshing stone - Vaspurakan - 1:54
3. Na Vav Iri - Who has come? - Vaspurakan - 2:54
4. Hari-hari Khnotsi - Shake, shake, butter churn - 4:54
5. Vare, Vare, Lman - Plough, plough, completely - 4:58
6. Gutanu hatz em berum - Bring bread to the ploughman - 2:34
7. Mer Bambaku - Our cotton - Garni - 2:16
8. Talini Horovel - Horovel of Talin - Alashgerd - 2:52
9. Shatkhu Sarer - Mountains of Shatakh - Vaspurakan - 3:02
10. Kaghhani Yerg - Weeding song - Ararat - 1:55
11. Huntski Yerg - Song of harvest - 2:50
12. Manir, Manir, Im Jakharak - Spin, spin, my spinning wheel - 2:44
13. Hey, Kanach Sarer - Hey, green mountains - 4:07
14. De Tol Ara, Gomesh Jan - Turn the stone, dear ox - Ghazakh - 3:34
15. Saren Kugas - You are coming from the mountain - Vaspurakan - 2:37
16. Beri Yerg - Song of the milking stable - Van - 2:05
17. Kali Yerger - Song of threshing - 3:54
18. Chanaki Yerg - Song of conversation - Ararat - 1:29
19. Sandi Yerg - Song of the threshing stone - Shatakh - 3:06
20. Hoy Narum - …goddess of water ..... - Van - 1:40
21. Ho, Ho, Yeznu Jan - Ho, ho, dear ox - Karabagh - 4:01
22. Oo, Khane - Song of the threshing stone - Van - 3:11
23. De Tsig Too Kashi - Draw tight, pull - Karabagh - 3:01




- Hasmik Harutyunyan
Hasmik was born in Yerevan in 1960. Her ancestors are from Mush. She graduated from the Department of Vocal Music at the Arno Babajanyan School of Music and the Yerevan State Pedagogical Institute. For several years, she worked as soloist for the “Agoonk” Ensemble of Armenian National Radio. Hasmik is a member of the Karot Ensemble and is vocalist for the Shoghaken Folk Ensemble. She is the artistic director of the Hayrik Mouradian Children's Folklore Song and Dance Ensemble.



- Aleksan Harutyunyan
Aleksan was born in 1962 in Yerevan, Armenia. His ancestors are from the province of Mush in Historical Armenia. He graduated from Yerevan State University and the Komitas State Conservatory. For several years, he worked for the "Agoonk" Ensemble of the Armenian National Radio as a soloist, and later as the group's director. He is a member of the Karot Ensemble and a soloist for "Kohar" and the Shoghaken Ensemble.

Horovel - work song

The song guides a person through all his life: the child listens to his mother’s nanik (word sang by the mother coaxing the child to sleep) while still in the cradle; the laboring peasant sings in the expansive, open field; there is the song of the love-stricken youth; there is the song of the novelist and poet.

Every genre of song the peasant, or villager, sings has its history. In the course of time, there are changes and advancements, as various genres disappear, while other, new genres are born. Those songs that are created during the work process are called work songs, which are sung to make the work process easier. Work songs create the image of the peasant and the positive, good work he creates. This genre has two types: songs that deal with the cultivation of the land and the work songs of women. The differences result from the different nature of the work, the work done in the field, by men, and that in the home, by women.

The basic task of the peasant is to earn a living, or, as is said in Armenia, “to provide bread for his family.” Until this bread is earned, or created, several types of work are performed:

Cultivation - digging, and working, the soil.
Sowing - planting seed after cultivating the soil.
Weeding - cleaning the field, the removal of unnecessary plants, weeds, and unwanted varieties of wheat and grains, etc.
Harvest - harvesting the ripened field and tying into bundles.
Threshing floor (winnowing) - separating the seed from the stalk.
Pounding mortar - cleaning the wheat from the husk.
Grinding - grinding wheat into flour. And behold, from flour, dough is formed, kneaded, and baked.


All of the work involved in the fields, in working the land, is then artistically expressed in what is known as the horovel.

The horovel is the song that helps prepare the peasants for their work, while gathering and mobilizing the necessary internal and external strength needed to complete the work. It is believed the horovel word originates from the combination of the exclamation ho and the word aravel. Aravel is the section of land that separates two parcels of land, an area that is not cultivated. It is the spot where, after finishing the task, the oxen, and the plougher, have their rest.

The worker, as the one who is expected to inspire the oxen to work on, uses the ho exclamation to encourage the oxen as he cultivates the land. Often, he uses the word aravel, in anticipation of the rest that soon awaits them.

The free nature of the work being done stipulates the improvisational character, natural rises, and free construction of horovel. The poetic lyrics, along with their free construction, are distinctive elements that exist, without fail, in the most horovel:

1. The exclamations ho, holel, hom, etc., give deep meaning to the song. In this way, using these exclamations, the plougher communicates with the oxen, using sounds familiar to the animal, creating a close, meaningful bond with each other.
2. The repetition of the calls from the plougher to the animal deepens and adds warmth to the song’s emotive journey. The calls include jan aghber (dear brother), sirun (handsome), tsaghik (flower), tsiran (apricot), gomesh jan (dear oxen), etc.
3. The words of the song, which present the basic contents of the horovel and the exact process of the work: Hashanu darman ara (Separate the straw from the wheat seed and husk), yes gutan em, herkers kvarem (I am the plough, I will plough the fields).


The calls and exclamations enrich the horovel and give them a deep, colorful complexion. There are two premises, which give meaning to the horovel. The first is the mountainous nature of Armenia. In the hills and mountains, the plougher calls out to the animal, his voice echoing as he inspires the animals to work on. Together, as a family, the villagers work, using calls and exclamations, as they and the beasts of burden simultaneously become part of the work process and Armenia’s nature.

Another explanation for the assistance the exclamations give to the horovel is their tie to the country’s ancient past, to the distinct charm and fascination of pre-Christian Armenia. In old times, people called out to end the winter season, so spring would be free to arrive, or called out to chase away evil spirits.
The horovel, as all work songs, are created and sung during the work process; behold, why did Komitas sometimes call them work songs, and other times, songs of nature?

By way of the horovel, we are able to form an idea about the nature of the villager’s work, the time he worked and his work methods and tools, and the warm relationship between the villager and the animals, the beasts of burden.

The musical language of the horovel is both difficult and unique. At times, the composition of some of the horovel become so deep and complex that they reach nothing short of perfection. The horovel has their unique place in their colorful nature, the variety of imagery, the combination of the elements of vocal and spoken expressions (calls), and the free, unconstrained manner of development.

The horovel has a long life, most remaining the same, sung exactly as they were in the past. The longevity is explained in the following way: the horovel is difficult to forget or change, a fiery, flowing, established creation with such a complex composition and high artistic level that musicologist Alexander Shaverdyan distinguished the horovel as “the true classic of Armenian folk art.”

Women's work songs

Women’s work songs are expressed in the village woman’s much-varied types of work, such as milking cows, rocking the butter churn, carding wool, spinning thread (songs of the spinning wheel), striking the pounding mortar (separating the wheat seed from the husk), weeding, sewing and patching, washing clothes, baking bread, and taking food to those working in the field.

These songs, like the horovel, are created during the work process. “Each and every song is connected with one moment of village life, giving an accounting of only that moment. The people don’t create or understand a song with no tie to a certain time or place" (Komitas; Articles, 1941). Unlike the horovel, women’s work songs lack the use of improvisation. Here, the strong emphasis of rhythm, meter, and orderly movement are felt, as women’s work is based on measured movements done by hand, for example, beating the pounding mortar, weeding, and similar types of work. In women’s work songs, prominent is the theme of love. In the creation of Armenian songs, many is the case in which the lyrics of love songs and songs of dance carry the theme of women’s work:

I take food to the place of work.
I bring an open tray of food.
See how much I love you.
I bring you fried fish.

The measured rhythms, syllabic balance, and harmonic rhyming of women’s work songs are born from the characteristic measured, orderly movements involved in women’s work:

Irik’m unim deghin-meghin
Ov vor desni patri leghin
Khio khio, khane, khane

I have a husband who is yellow
Whoever sees him will have a torn gall bladder
Khio khio, khane, khane (natural sounds as one strikes the pounding mortar).


“The elements of dance are born from the movements of the work process,” writes Professor K. Kushnaryan. Thanks to these movements, the song of dance and women’s work songs are similar and kindred with each other.


Work Songs

All work songs describe something of the working process and are sung to accompany work. Songs of the fields are called horovel. This is a large, many-sided genre, in which the peasant expresses his thoughts, desires, and his love for the nature, all combined with a deep respect for his work. Singing helps, not only during the period of work, but to endure and overcome the trials and difficulties of life.

At times, the horovel is also called “gutani yerg,” or, song of the plough. The horovel and gutani yerg are one and the same. “Gutani yerg” is the term used by musicologists, whereas the term “horovel” is considered “jhoghovrtakan,” or, “of the people.”

1. Aparani Horovel - Horovel of Aparan
A horovel from Aparan, a town and region north of Yerevan.
- Aleksan Harutyunyan: voc
- Levon Tevanyan: blul

The first star appeared;
Draw the plough to the heights.
Horovel, ho…
Farmer, wake up quickly. Harness the yoke and the whip.
Plougher, look at the first star (as a place of prayer).
Give glory to God with all your heart.
2. Sand Kdzedzim - I strike the threshing stone
One of the songs about women working at the threshing stone. The song was brought to Armenia by Hayrik Mouradyan from his native Shatakh, in the Vaspurakan region of Western Armenia.
- Hasmik Harutyunyan: voc

I will strike the threshing stone;
I will strike barley and wheat.
Mother- and father-in-law,
I will bury you.
As much as I beat my husband,
he stays naughty.
3. Na Vav Iri - Who has come?
A “sandi yerg” collected by Hayrik Mouradian.
- Aleksan Harutyunyan: voc

Who has come near the threshing stone?
A thousand greetings, for his share.
I spread a large cloth, sit on it.
Come, we will go and share love.
Khio, khio, khane, khane.
4. Hari-hari Khnotsi - Shake, shake, butter churn
One of a group of songs about a “khnots” (butter churn). Performed in a dance rhythm.
- Hasmik Harutyunyan: voc

Shake, shake, butter churn.
Let your yield be good.
They brought the sheep to be milked.
Shake, shake, butter churn.
I will milk the dark sheep.
While it is still cool;
Let your yield be good.
5. Vare, Vare, Lman - Plough, plough, completely
A horovel in which the ploughman sings praises to his plough and the nature of Armenia.
- Aleksan Harutyunyan: voc

Plough, till the land completely.
Plough like an Armenian.
My love, my sun and your sun.
Let the sun bring sweet sleep.
Plough completely.
The sun is over the mountain.
The moss is on the rock.
6. Gutanu hatz em berum - Bring bread to the ploughman
A song in which a young girl takes food to those working in the fields. Here, the singer praises her love, who is grazing oxen.
- Hasmik Harutyunyan: voc
- Levon Tevanyan: blul

Today the plough is ours.
The plougher is my father.
The blond youth who is grazing the oxen….
The world knows he is my master.
7. Mer Bambaku - Our cotton
A "chanaki" song collected by Komitas. From the village of Goght, in the region of Garni.
- Aleksan Harutyunyan: voc, dap
- Levon Tevanyan: tav shvi

I sowed the wheat on my field.
Come, dear love.
I prayed one thousand prayers.
As I sowed.
You are going to the threshing room.
My eyes watched your path, my love.
Wear your shawl well, dear one.
8. Talini Horovel - Horovel of Talin
Recorded by a native of the village of Amad in the Alashgerd region of Western Armenia.
- Aleksan Harutyunyan: voc
- Levon Tevanyan: blul

Come, dear plough, let us till the land;
It will cause pain to our enemies.
Hy, horovel` ho, ho, ho…....
The plough went to a high, rocky place;
Let the enemy’s daughter be furious with envy.
The day began; the light became brighter.
Goodness grew.
Oh, St. Gregory, grant us good days.
9. Shatkhu Sarer - Mountains of Shatakh
A “sandi yerg” (striking the threshing stone). From the region of Shatakh, in the Vaspurakan province of Western Armenia. Generally, the “sandi yerg” has roots in Shatakh and Moks. Collected by Hayrik Mouradian.
- Hasmik Harutyunyan: voc

Mountains of Shatakh, large, big rocks,
sunrise has not come; the sun has not risen,
I am already striking the threshing stone, a chance to gossip.
The black and white cat will be our dinner meat.
10. Kaghhani Yerg - Mountains of Shatakh - Weeding song
One of a group of songs sung during the process of weeding and thinning unnecessary plants in the grain field. From the Plains of Ararat.
- Hasmik Harutyunyan: voc
- Aleksan Harutyunyan: dap
- Levon Tevanyan: shvi

Dear sun, dear sun.
Morning wind, take my greetings to my love.
When the sun rises,
I will send your greetings.
Come home, dear love.
Come home, don’t go.
Don’t stay far from me, don’t stay away.
11. Huntski Yerg - Song of harvest
A duet performed about harvesting barley. In it, the singer compares his love to a partridge.
- Hasmik Harutyunyan: voc
- Aleksan Harutyunyan: voc, dap

In front of our house, the barley is golden.
As I cut the barley, the wind takes its share.
Two partridges join the harvesting.
One is much like my love.
12. Manir, Manir, Im Jakharak - Spin, spin, my spinning wheel
A song of the spinning wheel. Music written by Makar Ekmalian. Words are by Ghazaros Aghayan, a 20th century writer of folk tales.
- Hasmik Harutyunyan: voc

Spin, spin, my spinning wheel.
Spin white balls of wool.
Weave the threads thick and thin.
So I can care for my pains.
13. Hey, Kanach Sarer - Hey, green mountains
From the village of Choratyali. A horovel praising the virtues of the oxen. The peasant expresses his feelings and sings his hopes for a good harvest.
- Aleksan Harutyunyan: voc

Hey, green mountains.
Gather your strength, plough the dark soil.
A sacrifice to your massive shoulders.
Hey, dear ox.
Dear apricot.
Bend your back, gather your strength.
14. De Tol Ara, Gomesh Jan - Turn the stone, dear ox
A “kali yerg,” which means a song of threshing. From the region of Ghazakh (in current Azerbaijan, close to the borders of Armenia and Georgia).
- Aleksan Harutyunyan: voc

Turn the stone, dear ox.
Turn the stone, dear brother.
Crush the wheat, to remove the husks:
Remove the husks from the wheat.
15. Saren Kugas - You are coming from the mountain
Collected by Komitas in the village of Gnekan in the region of Moks (Vaspurakan). A “sandi yerg.”
- Hasmik Harutyunyan: voc

You are coming from the mountain.
To share your love.
You wander about the threshing room.
As you give me a kiss.
I need nothing else.
Khane, khane,
khio, khio.
16. Beri Yerg - Song of the milking stable
Ber” refers to the place villagers bring sheep, cows, goats, and other animals to be milked. From the region of Van.
- Hasmik Harutyunyan: voc
- Aleksan Harutyunyan: dap

They brought news.
To the milking stable.
The pail was hanging from my arm.
They brought news my husband had died.
My eyes are moist, but my heart is happy.
17. Kali Yerger - Song of threshing
Threshing song collected by Komitas.
.- Aleksan Harutyunyan: voc

Come, come, a sacrifice for you.
Ho, dear ox.
Horovel, ho. Go forward, dear ox, dear brother.
Now, dear friend, rise up, rise.
Now, dear apricot, rise up, rise.
Struggle on, rise up, rise, rise.
18. Chanaki Yerg - Song of conversation
This is a “chanaki yerg,” a song of conversation. A very well known song from the Plains of Ararat. Collected by Komitas.
- Aleksan Harutyunyan: voc, dap
- Levon Tevanyan: shvi

Don’t take my love to the mountains (where animals graze in the summer).
The village road will decay when he goes.
Cotton is good,
the apricot is a tree.
My blond love’s time has come,
it is time to take him (to be married).
19. Sandi Yerg - Song of the threshing stone
Sung in the same rhythm as when one strikes the threshing stone. The singer complains about her husband, saying he is too young and doesn’t appreciated her beauty. From Shatakh.
- Hasmik Harutyunyan: voc

Khio, khio.
Khane, khane ....…
Khanum (term of respect) mother-in-law.
Dear mother-in-law,
I am thin and tall;
What am I lacking?
Make your crazy son understand.
He shouldn’t sleep in the oxen’s stable.
20. Hoy Narum - …goddess of water.....
From the region of Van. A song of the spinning wheel.
- Hasmik Harutyunyan: voc

Hoy Narum, the spinning wheel leg is a poplar tree.
The weaver is unappreciative.
The spinning wheel is spinning.
I am getting sleepy.
21. Ho, Ho, Yeznu Jan - Ho, ho, dear ox
A horovel from the region of Mountainous Karabagh. Collected by Komitas, who heard it from Stepan Baghryan in the Meghri region of southern Armenia (bordering lower Karabagh).
- Aleksan Harutyunyan: voc
- Levon Tevanyan: tav shvi

Ho, Ho, dear ox.
To where you go, and where you return;
A sacrifice.
Going and coming.
The plough picked up and took everything.
22. Oo, Khane - Song of the threshing stone
A “sandi yerg” from Van. This song covers the entire work process, including preparing the area, etc. Again, sung in the rhythm of striking the threshing stone.
- Hasmik Harutyunyan: voc
- Levon Tevanyan: blul

Oo, khane…oo, janeh.
Oo, khio.
I strike the threshing stone to clean the wheat (bulghur) seed.
I strike the threshing stone to clean the barley seed.
I strike the threshing stone to clean the millet seed.
23. De Tsig Too Kashi - Draw tight, pull
Horovel from the region of Martuni in Karabagh (region’s historical name is Varandi).
- Aleksan Harutyunyan: voc

Draw tight, pull, ho
Dear ox, araho (call to animal).
Draw tight, dear flower.
A sacrifice to your departure.
A sacrifice to your coming.
The light has arrived; goodness has increased.

Text by Noune Atanasyan
- English translation: Andranik Michaelian

Instruments:

- Shvi, tav shvi (wind instrument)

Levon
Tevanyan
The shvi is an Armenian end-blown duct flute, made of reed or wood, with a mouth-piece similar to a recorder. It has seven finger-holes and one thumb-hole and an average lenght of 32 cm. At the upper end, near the mouthpiece, there is a metal (usually tin) ring for adjusting the sound. It can be made in various sizes and it is played solo and in ensembles of folk instruments. The shepherds sometimes play it in place of the more difficult pastoral flute "blul".

- Dap - frame drum (percussion instrument)
The dap is a single-headed Armeniam frame drum, equivalent of the Arab duff.
By striking the centre of the edge of the membrane, sounds of differing pitch and timbre can be produced.

The wooden frame drum is 35 to 50 cm in diamenter, with jingles (metal rings, rattles, silver coins etc) attached inside the frame and sound when the drum is played or shaken.

- more information about Traditional Music and Instruments of Armenia

History of Armenia

Armenia and the Armenian people have a history of more than three thousand years. Other nations have given this land, which Armenians call "Hayasdan," the name of Armenia. On the oldest map of the world, the Greek writer Hegatios Miletian (540-489 BC) marked this country as the Land of Armenia. This territory corresponded with the Armenian plateau, where in the ninth century BC existed the country of Urartu, which went through different periods of advanced historical development and changes. In the beginning, Armenia consisted of various small and large kingdoms that had the Armenian language (1) in common. During the period of Tigran the Great (95-55 BC), all Armenian people joined to become one nation covering a territory, which included that of the entire Armenian plateau. In 301 AD, Christianity became the official religion of Armenia. In 387 AD, after the fall of Greater Armenia (2) and until the beginning of the twentieth century, Armenia was under the rule of different neighbouring and non-neighbouring countries. From time to time, the Armenians regain their sovereignty, or were ruled locally, as in the period of the Bagradunis of Ani and Cilician Armenia. Western Armenia was under the rule of Ottoman Turkey, and until the beginning of the twentieth century, Armenians formed the greater part of the population there. Taking advantage of the time of the First World War (1914-1918) and the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Turkish government organised the deportation and massacre of the Armenian population. In 1918, Eastern Armenia became a state, where Soviet rule was established later. In 1990, Armenia declared itself an independent country.

(1) Armenian was introduced into the mountainous Transcaucasian region (called Greater Armenia by the Greek historians) by invaders, who occupied the region on the shores of Lake Van that had previously been the site of the ancient Urartean kingdom
(2) The Artaxiads - After the defeat of the Seleucid King Antiochus the Great by Rome at the Battle of Magnesia (winter 190-189 BC), his two Armenian satraps, Artashes (Artaxias) and Zareh (Zariadres), established themselves, with Roman consent, as kings of Greater Armenia and Sophene, respectively, thus becoming the creators of an independent Armenia.
On the collapse of Greater Armenia many Armenians emigrated to Georgia, Poland, and Galicia*, while others crossed into Cilicia, where some colonies had already settled at the end of the 10th century.
- *Historic region of eastern Europe that was a part of Poland before Austria annexed it in 1772: in the 20th century it was restored to Poland but was later divided between Poland and the Soviet Union (today Ukraine). During the middle Ages, eastern Galicia, situated between Hungary, Poland, and the western principalities of Kiev and Volhynia, was coveted by its neighbours for its fertile soil and its important commercial connections.

- map sketch: The Oriental Empire

- map Greater Armenia

- map sketch: Armenia today


Religion of Armenia

In ancient times, Armenia was a pagan country. Armenians worshipped fire and water, lightening and rain, as brothers and sisters, thus giving them a holy mission. In the first century AD, Christianity was introduced to Armenia by the preaching of the apostles of Christ, Thaddeus and Bartholomew. Due to the efforts of Gregory the Illuminator, Armenia established Christianity as its state religion in 301 AD In the capital of Vagharshabat (later Echmiadzin), the cathedral of Echmiadzin was built in 303. This became the place of residence of the Catholicos* of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the spiritual centre of all Armenians.

*(Greek 'katholikos' = "universal" bishop, in Eastern Christian Churches, title of certain ecclesiastical superiors.

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