Local artist plants Circassian roots into original compositions, albums

Jordanian musician Ahmad Ai
Ahmad Ai (Photo: Handout from Ahmad Ai)
Circassian culture, one many that enrich Jordan’s diverse make-up, is famous for its musical tradition. One Jordanian musician, Ahmed Ai, has been integrating his Circassian heritage into his own work, hoping to reach audiences near and far.اضافة اعلان

Ai is a Jordanian musician, producer, and composer of Circassian descent. Ai studied computer engineering at the University of Jordan but has picked up playing, composing, and producing music as a side gig. 

He started out as a pianist in 2003 and four years later, picked up the accordion, citing it is as the centerpiece of Circassian music. Coming from a family of musicians, Ai’s passion for the art was hardly a surprise.

Ai started playing the piano by coincidence, when he stumbled upon a music theory website while on the internet. Ai had little knowledge about music and notation, but he found an unexpected passion while trying to navigate the site. He then tried his hand at composing, setting himself on a path to local and regional acclaim. 

According to Ai, when he first started playing music, there were only few active musicians in Jordan, particularly in the Circassian community.

He faced one unexpected challenge when he wanted to compose the soundtrack for a film in 2017, having never studied how to create film compositions. He worked with a company based in New York called Beacon Revolt, which creates short films.

The artist described the experience as “a huge test that I hadn’t studied for” but also “a great and exciting adventure”, in an interview with Jordan News.

Ai has also worked on two short films, Love Bug and Choice Flow, in addition to a feature film: Roads to Olympia.  

The musician mainly hopes to reach a Circassian audience in Jordan. "I was part of the ‘Elbrus’ Circassian band at the Prince Hamza Bin Al-Hussein School, and I used to be the main composer before the COVID-19 pandemic," he added.

Ai believes that playing and producing music is an important way to express feelings. "Music expresses feelings that words cannot," he said. 

The musician’s dedication to Circassian culture was his ticket to travel the world. Ai has performed at multiple Jordanian and international concerts, such as the Aberdeen Festival in Scotland alongside his band, Elbrus. 

During the pandemic and strict lockdown in Jordan, Ai took the produce a release a major album, called “Around the Caucasus.”  "I consider the latest album, ‘Around the Caucasus,’ very dear to me because I worked on it very from my heart in the middle of a global pandemic," he said. 

He added that a new album is in the works for release next year.

Ai's message to all those who have a passion for music is to never quit, no matter the challenges. "I advise all the people that have passion for music to never lose hope and never quit,” he said.

“The learning process might be long, and you will face many challenges and might sometimes feel that you're not moving forward; but you are, and you will see this in a blink of an eye. You just have to keep moving forward.”

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