Friday, August 9, 2019

Aram Tigran

     I saw a post today on Facebook that I shared. It was of Aram Tigran singing one of his more popular songs: Ay Dilbere. It was posted on the Anatolian Armenians wall. I had just learned and performed this song a few weeks with a small trio that included a Kurdish saz player and an Assyrian drummer. I love the simplicity, in a most troubadour-like style, of this famous singer.
     After I shared the video I thought I would put my blog post about Aram Tigran in the comments. I was a bit surprised that I had not blogged about him at all. For some reason, I thought I had. Then I realized that today, August 8, 2019 is the tenth anniversary of his passing. So, it was an appropriate time to write about Aram Tigran.
     Aram Tigran Melikian was born in Qamishli, Syria on January 15, 1934. He was a son of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide. His father was from Sasoun and his mother was from Silvan, a village just north of Sasoun. The main city for Armenians and Kurds then and now in that region is Diyarbekir but better known to Armenians as Tigranagert named for and founded by the famous Armenian King Tigran the Great (140 – 55 BC). Qamishli is less than 100 miles SSE of Tigranagert and about the same distance south of Sasoun and Silvan.
     Aram is beloved as an adopted son and artist amongst the Kurds. From Wikipedia, "He is considered among the best of contemporary Kurdish singers and musicians. He recorded 230 songs in Kurdish, 150 in Arabic, 10 in Syriac, 8 in Greek.” Yet, oddly, until the mid 1990s, I had never even heard of him. I was introduced to him by my good friend and amazing singer, the late Varoujan Vartanian. I met Varoujan when we were thrown together to perform a concert of Tigranagerd folk music first in Montreal and then New Jersey. Varouj could sing in the unique Tigrangerd dialect and I was amazed that he knew these songs and even moreso when he threw Kurdish songs in the mix as well. I asked him where and how he learned this great music that I was just being exposed to. Varouj told me that he learned it from his neighbor in Qamishli, Aram Tigran, who was a famous Kurdish singer. Aram was a family friend who saw Varouj’s passion for singing and took him under his wing and help him learn the folk repertoire of the region. Based on this new found knowledge, I went out and bought a few CDs and became familiar with Aram’s song and style.
     Aram sang and accompanied himself on the Cümbüş which is basically a banjo version of the oud. His songs were simple but always captivating and memorable. It could be noted that he was neither the best player or singer, but he was a good writer and composer of songs. In total, singing his own songs in his own style worked out very very well for him and his legion of fans.
     I was sad to hear that Aram Tigran passed away. He died in Athens on August 8, 2009. Tigran wanted to be buried in Diyarbakır in Turkey, but the Turkish authorities refused this request." Rumor has it that his ashes somehow made it Tigranagert.
     The Anatolian Armenians wall on Facebook had a post commemorating the passing of Aram Tigran. This quote shows the master’s dedication to peace and brotherhood between the peoples in that troubled part of the world. Their posting was in Turkish. The translation is thanks to Google Translate with some editing by me.

Dünyaya bir daha gelirsem, ne kadar tank, tüfek ve silah varsa hepsini eritip saz, cümbüş ve zurna yapacağım.
Bir gün Dünyada ne kadar tank, tüfek ve silah varsa hepsinin saz, cümbüş ve zurna olması dileğiyle, İYİ SENELER
~ Aram Tigran 
8 Ağustos 2009
Aram Tigran’ın aramızdan ayrılışının 10cu Yıldönümü.
Sireli Aram Tigran'ı Saygı, Sevgi ve Özlemle Anıyoruz... 
If I come to the world again, I will melt all of the tanks, rifles and weapons, and make sazes, cümbüşes, and zurnas. 
How many tanks, rifles and weapons are in the world? I would make them all sazes, cümbüşes, and zurnas. Happy New Year.
~ Aram Tigran n
August 8, 2009
It's the 10th anniversary of Aram Tigran's departure.
We commemorate Sireli Aram Tigran with respect, love and longing ...
    There is a statue of Aram Tigran in Diyarbekir and a park named after him in Batman, Turkey.
     I wish I had met Aram Tigran. Now, I wish I knew more about him.


If you want more on Aram Tigran


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