When I listen to the Armenian Choir’s beautifully rehearsed folk song, it’s hard to not ask myself, “What is this song about?”. As I listen to the song, I find that the voices just become another instrument, as I do not speak the language and the words are rendered meaningless upon hitting my eardrums. The men and women’s singing ends up serving the same role as the piano, another device by which harmony and notes are delivered. But still, after the song is over, I know deep down they are singing about something, and I want to know what it is.
The song, like many choir song, has two parts, one part dedicated to a male section, and another to a female section. It begins with a rather warm sounding piano introduction, quickly joined by the voices of the women in the choir. After a few verses, the women pause and the men begin. This happens once more, with the women coming in and then ending with the men’s section. It’s a very beautiful, almost haunting song at times. It comes in these small waves, with a more joyous sounding refrain or resolve, followed by deeper, more minor-sounding verse. Overall, the song, like most, seems to be telling a story, but has elements in it that make me think it’s written more like poetry, constantly returning to a common stanza or lyric scheme. It reminds me of a something I could hear at a funeral or a Church service of some sort. In either case, the song is beautiful in its simplicity yet manages to be extremely powerful at the same time.
Thinking back to what the song is about, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the Armenian people have been given the short end of the stick a few times over the last hundred years. It’s not hard to imagine this song having to deal with the Armenian Genocide in some way. It was actually the first thing that popped into my head. Whether that be a result of the song itself or the implicit association I make with Armenian people in Jordan, I do not know. If it were to be a song about about the Armenian Genocide, I could easily see a story that starts off happy, like the song seems. Innocence and helplessness is portrayed by the woman’s part. It moves onto the more haunting men’s section, where it’s possible the content could be more about the genocide itself. The last final two sections of the song could possibly deal with the move to Jordan or other lands, where the people who survived the genocide eventually found refuge. I am somewhat skeptical of this idea, however, because of the nature of the type of song it is. The title calls it a “folk song”, but based on the context I cannot tell if that means it’s a style, or if it’s just an old song. For instance, we in the United States, we have Woody Guthrie, who is a folk artist, but Yankee Doodle, a song with an anonymous author, is also a folk song that is far older than anything Woody Guthrie made. I don’t know if this song is a Yankee Doodle or a This Land is Your Land.
Another possible explanation to what this song is about could stem from the large population of Armenian-Christians in Jordan. They are actually the second most populous Christian group in the country, although numbers have fluctuated over the years. The hymn qualities of the song also, suggest it could be a religious song. This goes back to my original impression, of it being a Church song or a song one might hear at a funeral. In either of those cases, it’s easy to imagine that this song could have some place in the ceremony. In this case, where it is a more a relic than a modern day folk song, it’s a great example of how Armenians were able to bring their culture with them to Jordan. It also exemplifies the strong ties between the Armenians and the Jordanians post-Armenian Genocide. In 2014, King Abdullah and President Serzh Sargsyan met and made sure to highlight the close tie between the two countries since the “reign of King Hussein” (JT). While this might not be self evident in this kind of gesture, as it is made all the time, reading more closely you can see that the King acknowledges the “large community of Armenian” living inside of Jordan, and also recognizes and respects the historical significance of Jordan to the Armenian people. This is wonderful example not only of global citizenship on the part of King Abdullah, but also exposes how Jordan is microcosmic of that fact.
The Armenian Folk song is a beautiful and foreign to me. It makes me wonder about it’s origins, and whether my thoughts on it are anywhere near correct. While I am relatively sure this song is old, and existed pre-genocide, I also do wonder if that could actually be one of the inspirations of it being sang possibly; in mourning or solidarity.I am humbled by my ignorance the songs origins and also in knowing I could never fully understand the meaning and implications this song may have for the Armenian people.