Middle Eastern Dance:
Music Recommendations

Periodically people post their favorite ME dance music to the med-dance mailinglist. The following is a compilation of several sets of recommendations, to be taken as a starting point and by no means meant to be the final word on recommendations. If you'd care to add your own entries (with commentary) or comments, feel free to email me, address at the bottom of the page. See the Music Vendors page for suppliers of tapes, cd's and albums.

Belly Dance Music Recommendations - Indexed by Artist/Title

Mokhtar Al Said - Classic Egyptian Dance Music, Piranha label
Has a great piece called Mashaal (9.17 min) used by Nagwad Fouad in some of her videos. Next Lissa Fakir which is a beautiful song. Two great drum solos about 2 min each and many other nice tracks. Unlike some CD's, out of the 14 tracks I like at least 8 tracks a lot. All the music is well produced being full bodied and rich using orchestrated sound plus traditional instruments. --Donna Lapre

The liner notes say it was produced by the dancer Jahlilah Lorraine Zamora, who is pictured on the cover. It is all instrumental. There isn't a clinker on it, and it's 59 min long! --Andrea R.

Ya Salaam (tape 2) Aladden Records USA
Has a powerful rendition of Zai El Hawa which means "like the air". A lot of travelling in the music and a fantastic drum solo. The routine is about 20 min long with some taqsim. Also on the track is Nagwa Fouad show 1988 and her singing, plus a great folk piece and another drum solo. --Donna Laprea

Joumana - Rafic Hobeika (10.49 min)
I love this tune and it can be found on many cd's - I found it on a CD called "Belly Dance (music for the orientale dance) 4". Produced by Voice of Lebanon. The ret of the CD is ok but this piece is just great. --Donna Lapre

Oriental Belly Dance with Setrak and Ranine
This is the only Setrak Sarkissian album that is out on CD (as far as I know) and I think it's his best. On tape, it's called Setrak 17. Well engineered, the music is beautiful, with a full orchestra (arabic!), and a vocal chorus on about half of it. No drum solos, however. A Moroccan friend told me that the first song was Abdel Wahab's last big hit before he died. The liner notes are short, and all is in Arabic. 38 min. --Andrea R.

Andrea R.'s favorite and the favorite of a whole lot of my friends. I've actually compiled a dance tape using songs from both sides. I prefer the entrance dance on the "Ranine" side to the side that begins with the Abdel Wehab song, but I totally adore the debke on the Abdel Wehab side. --Stefania

George Abdo, The Joy of Belly Dancing
An oldie but a goodie, his work was released on CD a few years ago, and they did an excellent job of remastering. I think George has done the best interpretation of a number of belly dance standards. On this album, Hizzi Ya Nawaim; and Mustapha, worked into an 11 min routine. --Andrea R.

"[Recommendations: The Classics:] all 5 George Abdo albums, especiaslly 'Joy of Belly Dance', (at least I think that's the one with the silver costumed belly dancer on it)..." --Me'ira

Oriental Belly Dance (?) by Dr. Sammy Farig
I'm hear at work and can't verify the title. I had this as a copy of a bootleg tape and only recently got the CD. But I use it for performance all the time. It has a woman in a gorgeous purple costume on the cover. For short shows, I've used the eight minute version of Mah'oud, which has a reasonable good drum solo, too. It also has another great Abdel Halim Hafez song, Sah'wa, an instrumental Habibi Ya Aini, Tiggy Nissim al Amar, and a few others. I think it was recorded in L.A. in 1992 or 1993. --Stefania

Princess of Cairo, Moustafa Hammidou
This is an oldie but goodie that I've included because it still works. It has a full show version of B'nat Eskanderia that's enjoyable just to listen to (and I've done that for about 10 years)! The other side is music from Nagwa Fouad's show of 1985 (??), also a great 20 min routine.

I'm not a dancer, but another vote for [this selection]. --jj

Hossam Ramzy's "Best of Abdul Halim Hafez"
For the side A 1st cut--love it for its startling and wonderful changes and breaks throughout. If you like violins, you'll love this. --Betsey

Especially track 2 "Oqbalal Yom Miladek" which I believe translates to "May you also achieve the same pleasure". This has several taqsim--kanoun, flute, oud, accordian (that gives a very proud beledi feeling) and my favourite taqsim the violin. This has got to be the most sexy taqsim I have ever heard, and is so powerful that I onlyl perform this in a large setting/stage to other dancers. It is definitely NOT suitable for small sudiences because the music reaches the heights of pleasure. This is acutally choice number one! --Jenny

Hossam Ramzy's "Gamaal Rawhany"
"His best CD yet of Modern Egyptian. I like most of the tracks. Good for practice and performance. Includes little (if any) quarter tone trumpet, which I don't like anyway. For lovers of the Latin sound there is a track called `From Cairo to Sao Paulo'. The overall feel is upbeat, uplifting and of course the production is excellent, as with all of Hossam Ramzy's work." --Karen Collins

Reda's Flower
(Reda Darwish is the former drummer at Pasha's Restaurant in San Francisco) --love the drum solos and title cut. His other albums are fun too: Ya Salaam, Ya Reda is good. --Betsey

Fire Dance - Faruk Tekbilek
Wonderful combination of Turkish and New Age. Faruk plays wind instruments of all varieties beautifully and is accompanied by great percussion, strings and more. Also good is soundtrack to Age of Suleiman. --Betsey

Tammerhenna/Ya Mustafa
Because Tammerhenna is just so easy to dance to and has "Bahlam Beek" between the slow section and the drum solo ("I dream of you"). Artist unknown. Currently dancing to [this] at the restaurant. --Jenny

Lover of Oud
Old-fashioned in style, basically oud and darbukka. Unfortunately my drummer is young and says it is too old-fashioned!, but the restaurant owner loves it because it reminds him of home. Me, I just love the combination of rhythms from the different instruments and the melodies of the "songs". --Jenny

Amar 14 (Jalilla's Raks Sharki #2) by Moktar al Said
Also arranged by Moktar el Said; it has some nice pieces. There is a good version of Intah Omry and Eshta. --Jawahare

"Full Arabic orchestra, beautiful arrangements, particularly "Enta Omri", 2 dynamic drum solos, a baladi piece too. Several different dance routines can be made by using mixtures of different tracks." --Aziza

Something called something like "Music of Abdel Halim Hafez and Warda for Belly Dance" (may be that listed above)
I especially like the Abdel Halim stuff on this CD. Good arrangements of older popular songs. --Jawahare

Dream Dancer and Dream Suite by Light Rain
Wonderful compositions with soulful melodies and gypsy fire. This type of music may not appeal to those who prefer pure Egyptian music for dancing, but it is worth checking out even just to listen to. I find this music very special. When I listen to it I have images of fantasy-like dances in my head. --Jawahare

Gaia, Earth Goddess; Shekina; and Kali Ma--Dances of Transformation (all 3 CD's by Desert Wind)
One of my favourite versions of the song "Miserlou" is on the CD Gaia, Earth Goddess. The lyrics are sung in English, so I finally understand the whole song!! --Karen

Oh, I am glad somebody else out there likes Desert Wind (or even heard of them). I admit they sometimes go overboard on the singing and chanting...but some of their instrumentals are really lovely. Their latest CD (Shekina) has a particularly nice version of Erev Shel Shoshanim on it, one of my all time favorite pieces. --Amanda

I really like Desert Wind's Kali Ma--Dances of Transformation. I see that they've remixed many of the smae pieces on two or three different recordings of "Return ot the Goddess", changing some of the instrumentation. I'm tempted to buy the other versions, but then hate to spend the money on essentially the same melodies. REgardless, KM is the first tape I ever bought for myself, and I've enjoyed it a lot. --Monica

Kali Ma--also one of Shakira's less traditional favorites.

Soheyr Zeki Live at Versailles
A cassette produced and sold by Dahlena, [it] is one of my alltime favorite modern Egyptian pieces. It has a version of the song "A Girl From Cairo"--a really great version with lots of accents. --Shakira

Beyond the Sky
[This] has some of my favorite Turkish/Other traditional pieces. Just *love* Faruk Tekbilek's work!!!!

any/something by Dead Can Dance
likely the "Passages in Time" or whatever the title is of that album/cd. --Shakira

Gypsy Kings
Allegria or Mosaique or the early one. --Shakira

[It has a Spanish-influenced belly dance routine on one side; drumming on the other.] --Shakira

some of the Moon Over Cairo stuff

Setrak Sarkisian's "Dance of Samara"

Warda's stuff

Hany Mehanna--Ma'sha'al
Ah yes, Ma'sha'al! I believe thetranslation is "the torch". My favorite version used to only be out on a very old tape but has been re-released...yellow spine to tape, picture of guy in green shirt on front. Lots of Arabic writing, which I am *still* trying to teach myself to sound out, from a book...has versions of other familiar songs as well. I like this version because of the very dramatic opening (Najwa says, "oh--you like the church music" ;-) ). Dahlal sells the tapes. --Shakira

My favorite Hossam Ramzy - where he redoes Inta Omri

Yes!! That version of Enta Omri is my absolute favorite veil piece... --Maisun

Bassil Moubayeb Vol. 2
"Side 1 - Useful tracks to make a routine. An entrance of 7 minutes or so, several slower tracks and a couple of faster paced tracks, including 'Habibi Inta'. No drum solo on this side. Side 2 - another routine, but using slower rhythms. This side has a high energy drum solo and a finale which can be added to side 1 to make a full routine. Tracks from both sides can be mixed to make a variety of performance tapes. (Vol 1 is extremely useful too!!)" --Aziza

Setrak Sarkissian Vol. 10
" A routine on each side of the tape (14 mins side 1 --- 11 mins side 2). Add a drum solo and finale to make a 20 minute performance routine. One side has the music Nadia Gamal used in the video of her nightclub show." --Aziza

Favorite Other Music

This includes music like favorite Arabic/Greek/Turkish CD or tape that isn't specifically recorded for belly dance, but parts of it could be excised for belly dancing.
Nebtedi Minim al Hakaya by Abdel Halim Hafez (Mohammed Abdel Wehab, composer?)
This is an entire song with instrumental portions that are often used in belly dance routines. --Stefania

Inta Omri by Um Kalthoum (Mohammed Abdel Wehab, composer)
I love all 40 minutes plus, the volcal portions as much, if not more so, than the instrumentals. The "overture" is often used for entrances or veil routines by the bands that I've danced to. --Stefania

Yalla, Hit List Egypt
This is a compilation of popular Egyptian al Jeel and Shabbi style music circa 1990. It has Eh Yanni (Amer Diab), Sif Safaa (Mohammed Mounir), and other real cool stuff, including a rap number by the infamous Sahar Hamdi (now retired) that we used for a humor number in one of Amina's fashion shows. --Stefania

Last Modified: 31 Jan 1998
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