Saturday, August 21, 2010


Jora Grigoryan lives in a village of Aparan. His grandfather, Grigor, taught Komitas six songs, when Komitas came to his village in 1913.

“My ancestors came from Moush in 1829. When they came to Aparan, there was no population at all. The villages were in ruin. When they say somebody is native Aparantsi, they’re wrong. They all have roots in Moush, Khnus, Bulanukh, and different villages from the Plains of Moush. Sure, I tell people I’m Aparantsi. But my dreams are of Moush. My heart is there...

“In May of 1918, the Turks came from the north, and tried to come through Aparan, on their way to Yerevan. But they were turned back, so they tried to pass Aparan on the slopes of Aragats, just above our village. My grandfather’s generation made sure they didn’t make it. And in Soviet times no Turk ever lived in Aparan, even though Turks were all over Armenia.

“Over 250 of our boys died during the war of liberation in Karabagh. That’s a huge number for a few villages. All were volunteers. One was my son. That’s his picture on the wall behind you.”

Jora began singing a version of “Sona Yar” different from the well known version. “I learned this version from my mother, who was an encyclopedia of folk songs. She learned it from her parents, who learned from theirs...all the way back to 1829 and before, from our ancestors in Moush. Once the Turks claimed the song was theirs. I proved to them they were wrong, and they’ve been silent since then.

“My songs...actually, they’re not my songs, they’re my peoples’ songs...but they’re songs I’ve learned, collected, arranged, and written down. I don’t mind teaching these songs to others, but I do mind when they say they found the songs in this or that village, or from some book, and don’t at least mention my name. The pop stars are good at doing this, which isn’t a surprise, as they’re trying to make a name for themselves...I don’t want money, as they’re not my songs. Just a little common courtesy...”

I asked Jora about the song “Gulo,” which Hasmik has sung and recorded. He said that the song is also known as “Gulizar’s Lament,” Gulo being short for Gulizar, and that it is a song of Moush. Hasmik asked Jora about “Garun Batsver,” which we knew as a folk song from Moush.

“I wrote that song,” he said. “I woke up one day and wrote ‘Garun Batsver.’ Maybe some day when I’m forgotten it will be considered a folk song.”


Note: Due to upcoming personal and professional changes, Yerevan Journal will be taking an extended break, starting again in the future as circumstances permit. Not that I haven’t enjoyed my communication, so to speak, with Armenians and non-Armenians around the world, which I have, but life’s dictates require bringing at least a temporary end to the journal.

1 comment:

Michael said...

I will miss your posts but I understand how life must take priority over blogging. I hope you can return to us soon as you offer a unique perspective on culture and life in Armenia.