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Lesson 2: Learning “Shen Genatsvale”

Aim: How are music and lyrics combined in a song to convey emotion?

Summary: Students learn the refrain of “Shen Genatsvale”; explore the differences between two versions of the song; and explore the meaning of the lyrics.
Standards: National 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11
Vocabulary: emotions, lyrics, refrain

Ilusha wrote “Shen Genatsvale” for his friends and relatives whom he only gets to see once in a while when he visits Georgia. The refrain “shen genatsvale” does not have a direct translation; it embodies a feeling of caring and connection between people that remains strong even when they are separated. The rest of the lyrics underline the emotions of love, longing, and devotion expressed in the phrase.

Ilusha Teaches “Shen Genatsvale”

“Shen Genatsvale” Demonstration

Georgian Folk artist Ilusha teaches his song “Shen Genatsvale.”

Sing “Shen Genatsvale”

  • Listen to “Shen Genatsvale” version 1, Track 7.
  • Learn the lyrics using “Shen Genatsvale” pronunciation, Track 9.
  • Learn to sing the refrain (“shen genatsvale”) throughout the verse and the chorus of “Shen Genatsvale” sing-along, Track 10. Notice that the words of the refrain remain the same but the melody changes.
    • A refrain is a phrase that keeps coming back within a song. In this song, the phrase “shen genatsvale” is repeated after every line in the verse, and repeated twice in the chorus.

“Shen Genatsvale”

Text

Dghes aqa var khval khom ara,
Shen genatsvale
Sanam aq var momepere,
Shen genatsvale
Tzelitzadshi ertkhel gnakhav,
Shen genatsvale
Skhva ra mrcheba
siq’varuli,
Shen genatsvale

Chorus:
Shen gena, shen genatsvale
Vimgherod da movilkhinod
Shen genatsvale

Rom icode rogor gnatrob,
Shen genatsvale
Albad veghar gamishvebdi,
Shen genatsvale
Chem tzasvlas da shen darchenas,
Gaumarjos!
Sadac avar ertad avart,
Shen genatsvale

Shen gena, shen genatsvale
Sheni eshkhit guli petkavs
Shen genatsvale

Shen gena, shen genatsvale
Sanam aq var momepere
Shen genatsvale

Shen gena, shen genatsvale
Sadac avar ertad avart
Shen genatsvale

 

Translation

I’m here today, not tomorrow,
Shen genatsvale
Love me while we’re still together,
Shen genatsvale
It’s so rare for us to see each other,
Shen genatsvale
What’s left but for us to cherish
these moments,
Shen genatsvale

Chorus:
Shen gena, shen genatsvale
Let’s sing now and be joyful,
Shen genatsvale

If you knew just how much I missed you,
Shen genatsvale
You might not be able to let me go,
Shen genatsvale
Here’s to my parting and your staying,
Gaumarjos!*
Wherever I go, you’ll be with me in spirit,
Shen genatsvale

Shen gena, shen genatsvale
My heart beats with your love,
Shen genatsvale

Shen gena, shen genatsvale
Love me while we’re still together,
Shen genatsvale

Shen gena, shen genatsvale
Wherever I go, you’ll be with me in spirit,
Shen genatsvale

*“Cheers,” said after a toast in Georgia

Compare and Contrast Two Versions of “Shen Genatsvale”

Ilusha recorded two different versions of “Shen Genatsvale.” The original recording, made when he wrote the song in 2011, is uptempo, with drums creating a steady, danceable beat. The new version, recorded for Musical Explorers, is a softer, more fluid folk version, without drums.
  • Listen again to “Shen Genatsvale” version 1, Track 7.
    • What is the emotion expressed by the music? How does it make you feel? What about the music makes you feel that way?
    • How would you move to this music?
  • Listen to “Shen Genatsvale” version 2, Track 8.
    • What is the emotion expressed by the music? How does it make you feel? What about the music makes you feel that way?
    • How would you move to this music?
  • Compare and contrast the two versions. Some areas to explore include melody, harmony, lyrics, instrumentation (including voices), tempo, and steady beat.
    • What is the same in the two versions?
    • What is different between the two versions?
    • How do these differences contribute to the contrasting moods?
    • Which version do you like better and why?
Creative Extension

Explore the Lyrics of “Shen Genatsvale”

  • The expression “shen genatsvale” is a very special phrase in Georgian that cannot be fully translated in English. It loosely means, “Let me take your burden if you are ever in need,” or “I give myself to you,” and is similar to saying “I love you” to a close friend or family member.
  • Read the lyrics to “Shen Genatsvale” aloud to your students and have them reflect on the translation.
    • What is the overall emotion or feeling in the lyrics to this song?
    • Who is someone that you have not seen in a long time?
    • What is one thing that you wish you could say to them?
    • What phrase can we use in English that expresses the same feeling as “shen genatsvale”?
  • On Write Your Own Version of “Shen Genatsvale” (PDF), your students will write verses inspired by “Shen Genatsvale.” They will have a choice of using “shen genatsvale” as their refrain, or writing an English phrase with the same meaning.
Literacy Extension

Am I Small? / Patara Var?

In Am I Small? / Patara Var? by Philipp Winterberg and Nadja Wichmann, join Tamia on a journey in which she compares herself to various animals and elements in nature as she asks the question, “Am I small?”

Am I small? book cover

Musical Word Wall

Add the words emotions, lyrics, and refrain to the Musical Word Wall.

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