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Lesson 2: Learning “Tamzara”

Aim: How can body movement help us learn about music with uneven meters?

Summary: Students learn the song and dance “Tamzara,” and explore the strong and weak beats in an uneven rhythm.
Materials: Musical Explorers digital resources, Musical Explorers Student Guide
Standards: National 1, 2, 6, 7, 10, 11
Vocabulary: measure, meter, strong beats, weak beats

Zulal teaches “Tamzara”

“Tamzara” Music Demonstration

Armenian Folk trio Zulal teaches “Tamzara.”

Sing “Tamzara”

  • Listen to “Tamzara,” Track 22.
  • Learn the chorus to “Tamzara,” Tracks 23–25. As an alternative, learn the simple “Tamzara” countermelody, Track 26. The full chorus with the countermelody is Track 27.

“Tamzara”

Text

Le le le le, Tamzara
Aghchig, dugha gu khagha
Asor gusenk Tamzara
Aghchig, dugha gu khagha

Chorus:
Tamzara bar baretsek
Oosernit al sharzhetsek
Tamzarayin bareru
Irar goo kan yareru

Veri bakhchin dantseru
Hop-hop gunen mancheru
Oor vor aghchig mu desnen
Hon gu dzurren fezeru

(Chorus)

Khelkus kulkhes arer a
En aghgegan mazeru
Tamzarayin varbedu
Kughoo, Paloo, Kharpertu

(Chorus)

 

Translation

Le le le le, Tamzara,
Girls and boys play,
We call this the Tamzara,
Girls and boys play.

Chorus:
Dance the Tamzara and
Move your shoulders
In the dances of the Tamzara
Sweethearts find each other

In the upper pear orchards
The boys go “hop-hop.”
Wherever they see a girl
They tip their fezzes*

(Chorus)

I’ve lost my head over
The lovely hair of a girl.
The masters of the Tamzara
Are in Kughoo, Palu, and Kharpert

(Chorus)

*Fezzes are red felt hats.

Explore Distinctive Rhythms of “Tamzara”

  • Listen to the simple “Tamzara” countermelody, Track 26, and count out the nine beats in each measure, accenting the strong beats, as follows: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9.
  • Invite the students to join in the counting.
  • For more advanced and experienced students, you can explain that the set of nine beats is called a measure, and that 9/8 is the meter of the song. (Students do not have to understand these words to participate in this activity.)
  • Explain that the strong and weak beats occur in a surprising, unexpected pattern, giving the music and dance a special feel. Contrast this with the familiar steady beat (e.g., 1 2 3 4) found in many other songs.
  • Using “Tamzara” chorus with counts (slow), Track 25, count the nine-beat pattern again, this time clapping on beats 7 and 8. Then play the “Tamzara” chorus with countermelody, Track 27, and clap on beats 7 and 8 along with the singers.
  • Once the students are comfortable with the pattern, play the full recording, Track 22, and clap together on beats 7 and 8. If the students are ready, try singing along to the chorus while clapping on beats 7 and 8.

Dance the “Tamzara”

A girl demonstrates beat 1 of the Tamzara dance

Beat 1:

Step to the right while waving your arms to the right.

A girl demonstrates beat 3 of the Tamzara dance

Beat 3:

Bring your left foot to meet your right foot while waving your arms to the left.

A girl demonstrates beat 5 of the Tamzara dance

Beat 5:

Step to the right while waving your arms to the right.

A girl demonstrates beat 7 of the Tamzara dance

Beat 7:

Bring your left foot to meet your right. Clap your hands on beat 7 and 8. Hold on beat 9.

  • Repeat the steps in the opposite direction.
Creative Extension

Armenian Bird Letters

  • Armenians have a unique alphabet with 39 letters in it (36 original letters plus three added later on). The alphabet is so beloved in Armenian culture that it’s common to find a framed picture of it hanging in Armenian homes.
  • There is also a special form of Armenian calligraphy called “trchnakeer,” in which the letters are drawn from the shapes of birds; the word trchnakeer is a composite of the words “bird” and “letter.” With Armenian Alphabet (PDF), you can see the full Armenian alphabet written in standard lettering and in trchnakeer.
  • In Armenian Bird Letters (PDF), your students will see how the word “song” is written in standard Armenian lettering and in trchnakeer, and then write the word “song” in English, ornamenting their letters with birds.
Literacy Extension

The Greedy Sparrow: An Armenian Tale

In The Greedy Sparrow: An Armenian Tale by Lucine Kasbarian, a greedy sparrow tricks everyone who offers help—and learns that dishonesty and selfishness never pay.

Book cover for "The Greedy Sparrow: An Armenian Tale" depicting a sparrow sitting on top of a sheep

Musical Word Wall

Add measure, meter, strong beats, and weak beats to the Musical Word Wall.

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