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Lesson 1: Learning “Doni Yar”

Aim: How do voices join together to create harmony?

Summary: Students sing the chorus of “Doni Yar” and explore the use of harmony.
Materials: Musical Explorers digital resources, Musical Explorers Student Guide
Standards: National 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11
Vocabulary: call and response, harmony, melody, ostinato, oud, refrain, unison

Zulal Teaches “Doni Yar”

“Doni Yar” Demonstration

Armenian Folk trio Zulal teaches “Doni Yar.”

Sing “Doni Yar”

  • Listen to “Doni Yar,” Track 18.
  • Learn the lyrics to the chorus, using Track 19.
  • Learn to sing the chorus, using Track 20.
  • Explain that the song is structured as a call and response, with the same refrain (or response) used in both the chorus and the verses.
  • Divide the class into two groups to sing the chorus. Have one group sing the call, “Doni, doni, doni yaruh,” and the other group respond with the refrain, “Hele don, don e yar.” (Students can sing that refrain throughout the song, or only in the chorus.)

“Doni Yar”

Chorus:
Doni, doni, doni yaruh
Hele don, don e yar
Doni, doni, doni yaruh
Hele don, don e yar

Mur dan hediv dzar salori
Hele don, don e yar
Tser dan hediv dzar salori
Hele don, don e yar
Salor ina chu gulori
Hele don, don e yar
Ov vor oodi chu halvori
Hele don, don e yar

(Chorus)

Mur dan hediv dzar mu buntoog
Tser dan hediv dzar mu buntoog
Buntoog ina chu gulori
Ov vor oodi chu halvori

(Chorus)

Mur dan hediv dzar khuntsori
Tser dan hediv dzar khuntsori
Khuntsor ina chu gulori
Ov vor oodi chu halvori

(Chorus)

Ichnink baghchen kaghink khodig
Berink durink musra modig
Desnink vir yarn e khorodig
Im yar kants kon ne khorodig

“My Sweetheart from Doni”

Chorus:
My sweetheart, lost in thought,
Don your outfit, it’s a celebration, sweetheart
My sweetheart, lost in thought,
Don your outfit, it’s a celebration, sweetheart

Behind our house is a plum tree
Don your outfit, it’s a celebration, sweetheart
Behind your house is a plum tree
Don your outfit, it’s a celebration, sweetheart
When the plum falls, may it not roll too far
Don your outfit, it’s a celebration, sweetheart
May the person who eats it stay young
Don your outfit, it’s a celebration, sweetheart

(Chorus)

Behind our house is a walnut tree
Behind your house is a walnut tree
When the walnut falls, may it not roll too far
May the person who eats it stay young

(Chorus)

Behind our house is an apple tree
Behind your house is an apple tree
When the apple falls, may it not roll too far
May the person who eats it stay young

(Chorus)

We go down to the garden to collect grass
Take the grass and put it near the manger
Let’s see whose sweetheart is cute
Mine is a treasure, and yours is cute

Explore the Lyrics in “Doni Yar”

  • There are different ways to use the word “harmony.” In music, harmony means that two or more notes are played together, creating a new kind of sound. When people live together in peace and get along, we also say they live in harmony.
  • Read the English translation of the lyrics aloud.
    • Do you think the neighbors share their fruit with each other?
    • Do you think the neighbors care about each other?
    • Do you think the neighbors live in harmony?
    • What makes for a good neighbor?
    • Why do you think the lyrics talk about the fruit falling off the tree instead of someone picking it?
    • What do the lyrics mean to you?

Discover Harmony in “Doni Yar”

  • Listen to “Doni Yar” again, Track 18, pausing the recording to discuss different elements of the song.
  • Notice how all three singers start out singing the melody together, which is called unison.
  • Next, listen for the introduction of harmony. Explain that harmony is when two or more notes sound at the same time.
  • Explain that all Armenian songs are sung traditionally in unison, but Zulal decided to add harmony and instruments to the songs to make them even richer.
    • How does the harmony sound and feel in contrast to the unison?
  • Note how the singers start as if they were one voice spread out into different parts, and then they come back together at the end. Notice how they always blend and work well together.

Create Musical Harmony

  • The following exercise may be more appropriate for older or more experienced students. You will be exploring harmonic intervals by creating an ostinato, or simple repeated pattern, on the first note of the scale, and then experiencing the harmony created by adding different notes in the scale on the same repeated pattern. Using the body scale exercise in Core Activities, in conjunction with this activity, have students tap the corresponding part of their bodies as they sing their notes.
  • Divide the class into two sections. Have one group sing an ostinato, a simple repeated pattern. For example:
  • That note will be the first note of the scale, Do; using the body scale exercise, have students touch their toes as they sing the note.
  • While half the class sings the ostinato, ask the other half to sing the same rhythm an octave above, with their hands in the air (as in the body scale), repeating it over and over. For example:
  • As they sing, have the two groups switch parts, when you call out, “Switch!”
Creative Extension

Explore the Oud

  • The oud is one of the signature instruments of Armenian music. The oud is also used in a variety of North African and Middle Eastern music, including Iraqi folk (Program Six).
  • Use Explore the Oud (PDF) and listen to the Armenian oud demonstration.

Musical Word Wall

Review the word refrain, and add the words call and response, harmony, melody, ostinato, oud, and unison to the Musical Word Wall.

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