COUNTRY: Uzbekistan (Bukhara)

Found on the Smithsonian Folkways recording, Bukhara: Musical Crossroads of Asia. “Taralilalalai” is the first song in a medley listed as “Songs From Sozanda Repertory.” Sozanda is a particular kind of repertoire from the Tajik city of Bukhara that is sung exclusively by women. Dartmouth music professor Theodore Levin, who produced this collection, also wrote The Hundred Thousand Fools of God: Musical Travels in Central Asia (and Queens, New York), which includes a translation of this song.

Over the course of more more than two millennia of Bukharan history the region was at the cultural crossroads of merchants from Central and Eastern Asia, particularly Uzbeks, Tajiks and Persians. Jews and and Muslims mingled freely and made music together. Today much surviving Bukharan music, like the Sozandas such as “Taralilalalai,” appears in the repertoire of Jewish musicians who perform an Uzbek and Tajik genre known as Shashmaqam.

“Taralilalalai” translates roughly as “la la la” and “yar eh” means “my dear.”

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