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'Garmi': A soothing love song in the Hemshin dialect

Nayira Baghdassarian feat. Lori Sarkissian

July 31, 2019


By Lilly Torosyan


'Garmi': A soothing love song in the Hemshin dialect

At first glance, this song about a “red girl” seems like a beautiful, yet ordinary, Armenian folk love song. Except that it is neither a folk song nor Armenian—at least, not quite. “Garmi” meaning “red” in the Hamshen dialect (or “karmir” / «կարմիր» in Armenian) is a song composed by Meluses, a contemporary folk-rock band from Turkey. This soothing version, by two young Lebanese-Armenians, will transport you to the idyllic villages of the Hemshin people.


Folk rock; Ethno rock; Alternative rock; Hemshin folk




Beirut, Lebanon


Armenian; Homshetsi dialect






A lot about the Hemshin people is shrouded in mystery. Theories run abound about their true ethnic and religious origins, including a popular one that believes they are ethnic Armenians who converted to Islam centuries ago. While most Hemshintsis today are Turkish-speaking, some speak a unique, melodious dialect of Western Armenian called “Homshetsma.”

This community, called Hopa Hemshins, live in the Artvin province of today’s Turkey, by the Black Sea. Hopa (beyond a fun exclamation said during dance) is also the hometown of many members of Meluses. About half of the songs in their repertoire are in their native Hemshin dialect. 

Like the Musa Ler/Kessab and Artsakh dialects, the Hemshin dialect is mutually unintelligible to standard Armenian speakers. Scholar Hovann Simonian calls Homshetsma “an archaic version of Armenian, subject to influence from Turkish and Laz.” So, while “Garmi” sounds Armenian, like the origins of its creators, it remains a mystery to us.

Though first released in 2014, last month, “Garmi” was exposed to a whole new audience with this captivating version by Nayira Baghadassarian and Lori Sarkissian. It’s not hard to see why.

You can read the full original Hemshin lyrics, as well as the Armenian translation, in the description of their YouTube video.

Liked this? Listen to another version

Of course, we cannot leave out the original version of this song, by Meluses.

Another great version we love is Kristina Sahakyan's, who performs many covers of Armenian folk songs, including many Hemshin songs. Hear her beautiful acoustic version of Garmi here.

Both versions are also available in the Video section below!


  • "Garmi" by Meluses

    (Video: Meluses YouTube page)

  • "Gamri" by Kristina Sahakyan

    (Video: Kristina Sahakyan YouTube page)

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