Saturday, June 13, 2009

A university-age female, with a friend in the arts, came to our home to have vocal lessons, saying “A well known name in the Estrada genre here gave me vocal lessons for just a month, and since then I’ve been trying to correct what she taught me.”

The girl opened her mouth in an unnatural way, her voice corresponding. The artist who accompanied her said, “You see, going to that singer was a mistake. She’s not a real singer, and not an Estrada singer. I know you’ve seen video clips on television featuring Constantine Orbelian’s Estrada band from Soviet times. Singers like Tatevik Hovhannisyan, Zara Tonikyan…one better than the next. Today’s pop singers, who have nothing to offer, call themselves ‘Estrada singers.’ Not one of these could measure up to Tatevik or Zara, or the others, and they know it. It’s kind of like today’s ashoughagan singers, who try to up their status by calling themselves folk singers. Not one of them can sing a folk song, and they know it.”

During the evening, a concert commemorating the life of Andranik Margaryan was shown, our friends remembering Margaryan:

“Margaryan was a smart man, a decent man. I’m not saying he was a saint. But compared to today’s leaders, he definitely was a decent man. People still talk about his death, and its suspicious timing, just in time for Serge to take his place as prime minister, and then become president. And, a lot of people don’t know that the doctor who performed the autopsy on Margaryan died soon after doing the autopsy. Perhaps he didn’t agree to keep secrets? Of course, there’s no proof here, but this is what people say. And often there’s something to what people say.”

On the comical side, if it can be called that, or, what is better known as the “Armenian reality,” the next morning, after being without water for some 24 hours, a call to the water department got us the response, “Vtar,” a word meaning accident, or breakdown, and often used here to describe whatever misfortune that may have occurred. Later, after an attempt at connecting to the Internet failed, I checked at a nearby Internet club to see if they had a connection, and the response there was the same, “Vtar.” Although used at times by lazy workers or officials to avoid answering a citizen’s question, this time “vtar” was accurate. Related is the overuse of the Armenian word “jknajham,” used to describe the current financial crisis, a neighbor aptly describing the way many businessmen here use that word when asked why they don’t hire people, give them normal salaries, etc.: “In Armenia, we’ve been in a ‘jknajham’ since Independence; these businessmen are just using that word to justify their criminal ways, and not pay people a decent wage.”


Martin said...

One of the things that I like about this blog, and a reason I read it regularly, is that it reminds me how many things there are that I no little or nothing about. I am here refering to the musicology that these articles exude. Particularly on the subject of Armenian music.
Also, they quite vividly highlight the social and economic fault lines that persist in Armenia, largely as a result of its recent history.

Andranik Michaelian said...

One learns a lot from being behind the scenes, so to speak, like today's trip to the recording studio, with the sound engineer playing us a "folk dance" piece he had just worked on. "They called in a duduk player, and the rest, the other instruments, I did on synthesizer. I'm embarrassed by what I did, but the dance group didn't care, and didn't want to pay musicians to come in and play. So the result is the ridiculous music you hear on television as children and others try to dance something resembling folk dances."