Ajam is a London based band that formed in early 2010. Ajam's music tries to bring the epic and soulful spirit
of the native music of Iran to a new generation. The band's repertoire comprises of original pieces that are set
to a post-modern soundscape of traditional, rural and tribal instruments fused with urban and rock beats and bass lines
and production sensibilities. Ajam's performance style is inspired by different elements of Iranian 'people's' music such
as street and market place performances, music related to traditional sports and competitions, religious passion-plays and
ritualistic performances and recitals.
The vocal performance mirrors this vibrant sonic blend by presenting a mixture of roots styles such as the once popular 'Bahr-e-Taveel'
and other traditional/folk singing styles with hints of modern inspiration. All this is delivered in a dynamic performance, which
incorporates elements of dance and movement.
Ajam is a cultural experience of Iranian Roots Music.
Ajam is a historic word with various meanings and interpretations. The common use of this word can be traced back to a term to describe 'Non-Arab' Muslims and in certain contexts the phrase became a surrogate term for Iranian people. In historic Arabic dictionaries various definitions have been recorded for the word ‘Ajam’, most notably ‘Non-Arab’ or ‘Foreign’, ‘Persian’ or ‘Iranian’, and ‘mute’ or ‘illiterate’. By choosing Ajam as the name of this musical project it is envisaged that the word can be empowered and celebrated whilst depreciating negative historic connotations. Further to such aspirations the naming of the project as Ajam is also to serve as reminder of the highs and lows in history that have produced the rich variety of cultures and heritages that form present-day Iran.
It shouldn't go without saying that the word 'Ajam' has been used widely in Iranian literature by poets such as Ferdowsi, Sa'di, Rumi, Jāmi, Nezāmi, Abu-Sa’id Abul-kheyr, and many others. Also, Ajam was used in geographical naming (Erāq-i Ajam - a term used for the central region of Iran, including cities such as Isfahan, Ray, Qazvin, and Kāshān from the Teymurid to Qājār periods), Honourific titles of poets (Amir-e Pāzevāri, "Sheykh-e Ajam" Māzandarāni poet of the Safavid era), naming of melodies within traditional music (Bayāt-e ‘Ajam in the dastgāh of Rāst Panjgāh), and many such instances by Iranians. The naming of the band was in part a salute to the ethnic-minorities of Iranian origin that reside in states on the southern shores of the Persian Gulf that are to this day known as 'Ajami'.
It is worth mentioning that for a large proportion of Arab speakers today this word does not carry any negative connotations and is used as a surrogate term for 'Iranian' or 'non-Arab'. From experience in many instances common Arab speakers have no knowledge of the term. As such, when considering that a large proportion of the Iranian and Arab speaking world do not consider this word to be derogatory term, an emphasis on the negative connotations of "Ajam" is rooted mostly in the intentions of those wishing to nurture animosity and hatred between the two peoples, which is certainly not our intention.
Further to the ethno-linguistic and geographic meanings of the word Ajam, there are literary definitions of the word which are to be found in classical poetry. In particular, in the poetry of Attār and Rumi, ‘Ajami’ is an attribute used to describe a person that is aware of a fact or secret but due to circumstances has to profess ignorance.
Ajam try to bring the epic, energetic, and often aggressive spirit of the regional musics of Iran to this generation. In many ways they reintroduce Iranians to native cultures that are often neglected in representations of Iran as well as creating a platform for an international audience to hear the less standardised and 'untamed' music of Iran.
Several of the cultures that Ajam pay homage to overlap with those of neighbouring countries. This represents the common shared history and culture between the peoples of the area.