In contemporary Istanbul, it can be quite difficult to find evidence of the city’s cosmopolitan past. While the vast majority of the city’s inhabitants today identify as Muslim, in the early 20th century the city’s population was majority non-Muslim. Among the many communities that formed part of Istanbul’s elaborate multi-religious and multi-cultural mosaic were large numbers of Ottoman Greeks, Armenians, and Jews who had been an indelible part of life in Istanbul – and across the Empire – for as long as the city had existed. Luckily, the prolific recording industry of the city and its diaspora offers another glimpse of how Istanbul once sounded through the traces of its musical legacy.
This guest mix from Outtalectuals takes the Ajam mixtape series to new planes, both sonically and geographically. This mix came to fruition as an attempt to use the Ajam platform to show artists who are critically and uniquely engaging with music that is often cordoned off into the “world music” sphere. Instead, Outtalectuals takes these sounds as influences to deeply connect with, rather than cliches to reproduce and slightly modify.
Nowruz — which literally means “new day” in Persian — means new beginnings. As a holiday associated with the coming of spring, it is naturally a productive force and a time of reflection on the year that has past as well as our wishes for the year to come. May the year 1394 be full of ideas, creativity, love, resistance, and power for all.
Kamyar Jarahzadeh aka Yavaran brings us to the dance floor once again, this time with a wedding-themed mixtape in time for Valentine’s Day. This mix highlights the shared happiness and culture that surrounds the region’s marriage celebrations.
As the Ajam Media Collective mixtape series nears the double digits, we present this roundup of previous mixtapes to allow you to catch up on any mixes you may have missed, or give you a chance to revisit your favorites.
Ajam’s latest podcast, this time featuring shared songs across from Southwest Asia. With samplings from Persian, Greek, Turkish, Arab and other language groups, this mixtape emphasizes the kinds of oft-forgotten transnational connections that exist in music.
In the 1980s, new Iranian musicians in the United States joined communities of other diaspora performers from Greece, Armenia, and the Arab World. In cities like New York and Los Angeles, these communities not only lived side-by-side but built upon the shared foundations between their cultures. Just as Middle Eastern markets in Los Angeles typically have bargain bins of CDs and tapes with music from across the region, instrumentalists from different countries often performed alongside each other.
Our mix this month presents a seemingly unorthodox combination: avant-garde and folk music from Iran and the region. The goal with this month’s podcast was to continue presenting samples of Iran’s many musical traditions in a multitude of forms to show the variety and ongoing development of Iran’s diverse folk music traditions. (Photo Credit: Shahrokh Dabiri)