Autostrad: Jordanian Funk

Once I arrived to Irbid, Jordan I immediately began to investigate the “music scene.” I was desperate to find a place just to play a guitar. To my disappointment I discovered the “music scene” in Irbid was non-existent because Irbid is a primarily conservative Muslim city. According to Irbid’s interpretation of the Islamic faith music is considered to be “haraam” (forbidden by religion). This was an aspect of culture shock that what difficult for me to deal with at first. Music is very important to my life. I love listening, playing, and dancing to music every day. Eventually I purchased an Oud, which is a Middle Eastern instrument slightly similar to a guitar. The Oud is the “cousin” of the Spanish Flamenco guitar because while the Arab Moors occupied Spain for hundreds of years they culturally diffused the Oud to the gypsies in Spain. The gypsies then created the Flamenco guitar. I also began using my Italian friend Flavia’s guitar. This, on top of, listening to music frequently and going to the International Cairo Jazz Festival when I traveled to Egypt, beckoned my thirst for music.

When I traveled to Amman for the first time I realized this is where the “music scene” of Jordan existed. After searching YouTube and with the help of my friend Haley Edwards we discovered this band, Autostrad. Autostrad is a six person band based out of Amman, Jordan, consisting of instruments such as bass guitar, electric guitar, drums, saxophone, keyboard/synthesizer, percussion, rhythm guitar, and more. This variety of instruments creates a high energy funk/jazz/reggae fusion sound with Eastern style synthesized keyboard overtones. This music is usually fast paced and up beat. This is unique for the “underground” Jordanian music scene because most of the other “underground” music like Hip Hop is very serious and political. Autostrad likes jamming out and singing to enjoying life and doing what they love, while at times poking fun at serious topics like unemployment in Jordan. Autostrad also likes to frequently mention smoking “hash” which is an extremely controversial topic in Jordan because of the strict legal penalties. When I listen to a song like سافر , the video I submitted on this post, I feel and tingling sensation that immediately warms my heart and makes me want to play music and “jam” along. However, when I don’t have instruments there is no other choice but to get down, dance, and get funky. Their cunning musicianship effectively blends Western and Eastern styled music. This is no easy feat because these styles derive from completely different music theory and operate on different number of octaves and scales. For instance, Eastern music has 24 octaves while Western music plays in 12 octaves.

Once I return to Jordan after I graduate from UC Denver I will see Autostrad, no doubt! I hope you enjoy the video.

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