A IS FOR ARMENIA, A IS FOR AZERBAIJAN, B IS FOR BASHKORTOSTAN, B IS FOR BELARUS, D IS FOR DAGESTAN, G IS FOR GEORGIA, K IS FOR KARELIA, K IS FOR KAZAKHSTAN, K IS FOR KYRGYZSTAN, M IS FOR MOLDOVA, R IS FOR RUSSIA, S IS FOR SOUTH OSSETIA, T IS FOR TAJIKISTAN, T IS FOR TATARSTAN, T IS FOR TURKMENISTAN, U IS FOR UKRAINE and U IS FOR UZBEKISTAN
I first became obsessed with the wealth of obscure melodies collected by the anthropologists from Smithsonian Folkways when I was listening to Future Folk features on PRI The World (favorite news program) by Brandi Fullwood. So then, as I was looking for music from Dagestan, and discovered that while Dagestani rap (my favorite genre) exists, it’s excessively misogynistic and will require weeding out, I decided to start my exploration of the music through Smithsonian Folkways. This album was not exactly the remedy: it only has one Dagestani folksong. But the wealth of other folk songs from various ex-USSR republics is simply astounding. I related to them a lot, sometimes even on a personal level. For instance, I found the Belarusian ditties to resemble the ditties that my mother relays from her childhood in the South of Russia. While empires are always evil, they sometimes show tapestries of diversity unimaginable anywhere else, and this is one good thing I can say about the USSR.
Folk Music of the USSR compiled by Henry Cowell
Released in 1960 by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings