Born in Bursa, his first entrance into music was at the age of eight, when he began singing hymns in an Armenian church. In 1884, Hacı Ârif Bey went to hear Bımen, the beauty of whose voice had become known beyond Bursa. At the suggestion of Hacı Ârif Bey, he went to Istanbul in 1887. When he first arrived, he survived by working as a secretary for an Armenian banker, and singing hymns in church. He studied Turkish music with Hagopos Kıllıyan and Lem’i Atlı. He adopted the last name “Şen” (Cheerful) from the Kürdili-hicaskâr şarkı “Yüzüm şen...” (My face is cheerful...), which was very popular at the time. He made many records and towards the end of his life, sung in nightclubs. As he didn’t read/write music, only a few of his compositions were notated by Armenian musicians. For this reason many of his unnotated songs have been forgotten.