Middle Eastern Dance:
Music Recommendations by Subject

The following is a compilation of various sets of music recommendations posted to the med-dance mailinglist. They are 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.

Arabic Music CD's

From the rec.music.arabic newsgroup: "The following is a selection representing various genres of Arabic music. They are highly recommended, keeping in mind that they naturally reflect my own views and preferences." Music is recommended for listening and cultural purposes not for dance purposes.

(Also, check out the Arabic culture - music, dance, film - site.)

ALGERIE: Anthologie de la Musique Arabo-Andaluouse, vol. 3
Amin Mesli et l'ensemble Nassim el Andalous
Ocora 560004
"Comments: This is one of five volumes. All five volume are excellent, although this is my favourite. The authentic music of Tlemcen. Very informative booklet in English, French and Arabic. This volume is in Nuba Cika. The other volumes cover other Nuba's. This stuff is addictive. Sound quality is excellent."

Archives de la Musique Arabe - Vol. 1
Several Artists
Ocora, distributed by Harmonia Mundi
OcORA C558678
"Number of tracks: 8 Total time: 71:4 Comments: This CD was made of originals that appeared on 78 rpm records. The recordings were made in the early 1900's. Sound quality is as expected, but otherwise the production values are excellent. There are 34 pages of liner notes in English, Arabic and French with many pictures. In summary, each track alone is worth the price of the CD, this is a must-have."

Label: Asmahan Records
Number:ASMCD 601
"Number of tracks: 11 Total duration: 71:56 Comments: Asmahan was Farid Al-Atrash's sister...he wrote music for her songs. There is not a lot recorded by Asmahan. I found only about 3 or 4 Cds of her and I had the same material on tape. Some of the tracks are very popular and well known to this day: track 6 "Ahwa" (I love) ; track 2 "Layali elons fi Vienna"; track 4 "Imta hatiraf". The sound quality is satisfactory. Recommended."

Bil Afrah
Ziad Rahbani
Voix de l'Orient Series, VDL CD 606
"Comments: Music, no vocals. This cd contains a single 38 minute track that consists of 10 pieces. The pieces selected are excellent and the performance is inspired. Ziad Rahbani is the son of the famous Lebanese singer Fairouz and her late husband the musician Asi Rahbani. On this CD he plays the accordion. Sound quality is excellent."

La Grande Chantuse Bedouine (The Bedouin Singer)
Seham Refki
Cairophon, CXGCD 658
"Singer: Seham Refki. Comments: Twelve beautiful songs (total time 72 minutes) in genuine Bedouine (Nomad) dialect, beautiful (female) voice. All these songs are classics. The sound quality is surprisingly very good."

Munir Bachir en Concert/live -indeit 9
Maison des Cultures du Monde, MCM 260006
"Comments: Munir Bachir is a master oud player. If you like the lute this one is for you. Four tracks: 1) Maqam Yekah and Aoudj 2) Nahawand 3) Bayat 4)Hijaz. Total time 56 min. Sound quality is excellent. On a good system or with good headphones frequent cough can be heard in the audience, but I didn't find this bothersome."

Music Classique Andalouse de Fes
Ustad Massano Tazi
Ocora, C 559035
"Comments: Two tracks; 57:44 and 16:15. This one is really special. Both tracks were performed with ensembles equivalent to those of the 18-th century and before (back to the 9th century). Instruments: rebab, alto, ud, suissan, tar, mussami voice. No violins...the minimalism in the instruments serves only to accentuate the skill of the performers. The first track contains many alternations of instrumental pieces and vocals...thanks to Ocora for not cutting it up. Sound quality is excellent."

The Music of Mohamed Abdel Wahab
Simon Shahin
Axiom, 539 865-2
"Instruments: A contemporary Arabic band (violins, ud, nay, qanun, riqq, tar, etc). Performers: Simon Shahin and his band. Comments: Music and some vocals. All music was composed by the late Egyptian composer/singer/musician Mohamed Abdel Wahab - Sound quality is excellent."

Sounds of Sudan
Abdel Gadir Salim, Abdel Aziz Ed Mubarak, Mohamed Gubara
World Circuit, WCD018
"Comments: Three songs by each performer. Instruments: oud, accordion, tabla, tambour. My favourite is Abdel Gadir Salim (he has his own cds as well). Sound quality is excellent."

Turath (Heritage)
Simon Shahin
CMP Records, CMP CD 3006
"Instruments: violin, ud, nay, qanun, riqq, tar. Performers: Simon Shahin, Omar Farouk Tekbilek, + Comments: Music, no vocals. A nice slection of classics. Excellent performance. Sound quality is excellent."

The Twinkiling Star
Om Kalthoum
Voix de l'Orient
VDL CD 595
"Number of tracks: 7 Total duration: 40:38 Comments: This is some of Om Kalthoum's not too early material and demonstrates the beauty of her voice. for example listen to track 2, between 3:00 and 4:00, her voice soars with no apparent top limit. Tracks 2 "Ifrah ya albi" (rejoice my heart) and 4 "Ala balad elmahboub" (to the beloved's town take me) are classics. The sound quality is good."

Favorite Arabic/Greek/Turkish Music Not Specifically For BDance

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

Middle Eastern Alternative

Current ME alternative music. Not necessarily or at all belly dance related.
Group: Aisha Kandisha's Jarring Effects
"There is also a group from Morocco called 'Aisha Kandisha's Jarring Effects'. They have 2 albums out, the first called El Buya, the latest called Shabeesation (Shabee is the term for Moroccan dance pop). They are really cool, and definitely an 'alternative' out of Morocco."

Ali Hussan Kuban, Nubian Magic
Company: Mercator, Caroline
"Another great CD that has traditional and alternative Middle Eastern music is [Ali Hussan Kuban, Nubian Magic]. The CD is great."

Barraka El Famatshi
Website: www.maroc.net/barraka
"...check out [the website] for some more wild fusions and outta space Moroccan grooves..." --Pat Jabbar


"There is a category of music I like to recommend for beginning [belly] dancers because it is "fusion", i.e. eastern sounding, but w/rhythms that are easy to hear for western ears. These are primarily:
"anything by RAJA"

Light Rain
"anything by LIGHT RAIN, i.e. Dream Dancer, Dream Suite, etc.

Fire Dance Beyond the Sky
Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Brian Keane
"FIRE DANCE & BEYOND THE SKY - by Omar Faruk Tekbilek and Brian Keane very authentic sounding stuff, with lots of nice swishy desert wind sound effects, vaguely new-ageish."

Music On CD Only, Please

John Bilezikjian
"Others that are faves [include]...The Magic of John Bilezikjian available from Dantz Records, PO Box 2434 Laguna Hills, CA 92654-2434 (714)581-5664."

La Nef
Label: Dorian Discovery Label, NY
"One group that I have discovered that would be worth adding to everyone's collection is called La Nef. Two CDs they have put out lately are called Music for Joan the Mad - Spain 1479-1555 and more recently (with a lot more middle eastern sound to it) The Garden of Earthly Delights. These are on the Dorian Discovery Label in New York (518)274-5475. I have ordered both of these via a service on the Net, they cost me about $13 each."

Hossam Ramzy
"Others that are faves [include]...Anything from Hossam Ramzy! (Source of Fire, Baladi Plus, etc.) from ARC Music US, POBox 11 288, Oakland, CA 94611"

Noor Shimaal (Northern Lights) - Where Africa Meets the Orient
"This recording has traditional and non-trad songs from Nubia, W.Algeria, Turkey, W.Sudan, Maghreb, Azerbaijan, Tunisia, and Egypt. Wonderful!"

Omar Faruk Tekbilek
"One of my favorite musicians is Omar Faruk Tekbilek, who issues his recordings on CD. Some have a very traditional flavor (he's Turkish), others have a sort of mix of traditional and modern (he works with a classical guitarist, Brian Keane)."

"As another Omar Faruk Tekbilek fan -- don't forget Gypsy Fire --a CD he made with Richard Hagopian and others. This is classic bellydance music -- even has a cover of Rampi Rampi! I just picked this up and it's the kind of CD that is so comfortable to dance to that it seems like you've owned it forever."

"The Princess of Cairo"
"...(arranged by Hamouda Ali, performed by Hani Mehanna and his orchestra) is but one example of a great Arab LP now available on CD. Check with your favorite Arab retail music outlet; a large one like Rashid's..."

Last Modified: 31 Jan 1998
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