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Soft as velvet: Miqayel Voskanyan & Friends' ‘homey’ tribute to ‘Makhmur Aghjik’

Miqayel Voskanyan & Friends Band

July 07, 2020

Song

By Lilly Torosyan

315 views

New Soft as velvet:  Miqayel Voskanyan & Friends' ‘homey’ tribute to ‘Makhmur Aghjik’

For the past nine years, the Miqayel Voskanyan & Friends Band (MVF Band) has been cementing their place in the Armenian music scene—and beyond. Their distinct take on the folk genre has taken them on tour across Europe, Asia, and the U.S., and there is hardly a club or venue in Yerevan where they have not jammed. These days, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced musicians inside. But the folks at MVF Band are undeterred. Check out the music video of their latest song, a beautiful cover of “Makhmur Aghjik,” below!
 

Genre

Folk jazz fusion

Released

July 3, 2020

Location

Yerevan, Armenia

Language

Eastern Armenian

Duration

4:03

Link

YouTube

 

Գնա՛ քնքուշ,
Բուրիր բոյրով քո անուշ,
Աշխարհ լցրու երազով աղջիկ...

Go tender,
With your sweet scent,
Filling the world with dreams, girl...

A male voice glides along stuffed bookcases, antique furniture, and a Russian calendar—set open to Aug. 25, 1977. On that day, 29 years later, the owner of this home, the great Silva Kaputikian, would take her last breath. Not a person in sight. Just images of a past, rolling by, in the empty home of a deceased writer. Watching in silence, the reel is haunting, but set to music, one is soothed.

A still image from the A still image from the "Makhmur Aghjik” music video by the MVF Band (Image courtesy of the MVF Band)
 
The singer is Miqayel Voskanyan, the frontman and tar player of the Miqayel Voskanyan & Friends Band (the MVF Band), and the song is “Makhmur Aghjik,” composed by Khachatur Avetisian and set to words by Kaputikian. Though both creators have passed on, the tune has become a timeless standard, finding new life in its many renditions over the years… 
 
Our friends C-rouge and Carmen Balian added an orchestral feel to the song, while ARPI kept it more traditional, and Forsh gave it a distinctly jazzy flavor. But Voskanyan and his friends (saxophonist David Melkonyan, keyboardist Arman Peshtmaljian, and brothers Gurgen and Movses Ebejyan on bass and drums respectively), along with guest musician, blul player Rafik Avagyan, have added another dimension to “Makhmur Aghjik”—updating the arrangement and instrumentation in their signature style.
 
Aug. 25, 1977. On Aug. 25, 2006, the “Poetess of All Armenians” would pass away. (Image courtesy of the MVF Band)Aug. 25, 1977. On Aug. 25, 2006, the “Poetess of All Armenians” would pass away. (Image courtesy of the MVF Band)
 
Since 2011, the MVF Band has been performing, creating, and re-creating folk tunes in a jazz (and sometimes rock-funk-hip hop) fusion, carving their own space in the popular, and ever-shifting, niche of Armenian folk music. Recording “Makhmur Aghjik” seemed like a natural fit for them. In fact, the idea was four years in the making, and came to fruition four days ago, with a music video release.

 

Where sound and sight meet

Guided by the music, the viewer tiptoes through the empty house-museum of the late Kaputikian. The band’s reasoning for shooting there was natural, says Voskanyan, as the mood and aura of the composition were born there. The video is a tribute to the woman behind the words (and the man behind the music, for that matter). Indeed, there is poetry in that, too. The lyrics describe the enrapturing grace of a beautiful “velvet” girl. In a way, the MVF Band has elevated the writer to the protagonist of her own love song. She is the velvet girl. 

The band (L-R): Gurgen Ebejyan, Arman Peshtmaljian, Miqayel Voskanyan, Movses Ebejyan, and David Melkonyan. (Photo courtesy of the MVF Band)The band (L-R): Gurgen Ebejyan, Arman Peshtmaljian, Miqayel Voskanyan, Movses Ebejyan, and David Melkonyan. (Photo courtesy of the MVF Band)
 
The video serves as a reflection on these trying times when museums are closed and communal gatherings limited. We cannot physically be at the space ourselves, nor will we ever meet the woman in the black and white photographs, but our senses come alive—through sight and sound, song and poetry. As Voskanyan explains, “‘Makhmur Aghjik’ is one of those unique examples of Armenian culture which has a balanced combination of literature and music, writing and notation.” The result proves, yet again, that music is an elixir to isolation.
 
It also highlights the importance of artists, who have been particularly hard hit during this pandemic. While live concerts and performances have been canceled, the MVF Band has found a way to honor the writers and musicians of yesteryear, doing what they do best. Much has been said about the beneficial effects of music. Many centuries ago, in this part of the world, melodies played on the tar were believed to have healing powers, relieving depression and other ailments.
 
Indeed, this is music for the soul—a pacifier and electrifier during times of uncertainty. Listen, and be soothed by the soft velvet of music and poetry, of history and imagery… 

 

Follow the MVF Band on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Stream their music on Spotify, SoundCloud, and Apple Music.
 

Video

  • "Makhmur Aghjik" by the MVF Band

    (MVF Band YouTube page)

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