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Yosifah Rose’s Suggestions for Belly Dance Music for Aspiring Dancers!

Note: This list is meant to be a beginning point for students of Raqs Sharqi and anyone else interested in finding Arabic dance music for enjoyment, practice, or performance. Arabic music is a vast, rich, and complex. This list is meant to be an introduction to Arabic music commonly used for Raqs Sharqi -- the dance of the East (commonly known as belly dance in the Western world). These are some links, artists, and titles to start with, but this is NOT an extensive or comprehensive list. Once you begin your musical explorations, if you fall in love with the Arabic music, I urge you to delve deeper -- beyond the cliches -- to discover and appreciate richness and beauty of the Arabic language and culture. Once very accessible vehicle for increasing your cultural fluency of Arabic is through movies!

Visit Najia’s List of Recommended Raqs Sharqi CDs on the Gilded Serpent at:

You can buy some belly dancing music in the Middle Eastern section at record stores and even used at Rasputin Records. When you visit your local record store, look for titles that state Classical Egyptian Dance, Dance Oriental, Raks Sharki (also spelled Raqs Sharqi), or Belly Dance.

You can also find lots of belly dancing music at belly dancing festivals, such as Rakkasah West or Desert Dance Festival:

There are links to some high quality on-line vendors who sell Arabic music, such as: - Sells imported Arabic music titles ranging from unique collections by established artists and titles that have never been issued in the United States. Check out their unique and exciting collection of Arabic music. They offer 1-day shipping!

Visit my Links Page for a more extensive listing of on-line vendors!

For beginning dancers and dancers looking for modern upbeat Arabic pop music to practice their shimmies with or to workout with, compilations of Arabic Pop are great. Current favorites in my Goddess Workout classes are NOW: That's What I call Arabia distributed by and The Orient Beats Back Nights: Remixes by Said Mrad (available through Hollywood Music Center/PEKO Records International). Arabic Groove by Putumayo is also good and is readily available at most major music stores.


Different styles of belly dancing call for different musical selections. Please note that I have not separated these artists by style or genre, but that it is important for a dancer to educate herself about the different styles of belly dance and become aware of what kind of music is appropriate to each style.

Classical-style Egyptian Raqs Sharqi should be danced to classics. The most commonly known and popular among American dancers are Aziza, Zeina, Tamerhenna, Alf Leyla Wa Leyla, Leilet Hob, etc.

Classical Egyptian Raqs Sharqi requires music with very full orchestration and the music has many subtle and intricate rhythm and melodic changes. The music on the Jalilah Raks series, as well as some music by Hossam Ramsy, Dr. Samy Nossair Orchestra, and Dr. Samy Farag are excellent for Raqs Sharqi.

Modern Egyptian Style Cabaret dancers also incorporate songs such as Taht El Shibbak.

In general, Lebanese belly dance music, such as the music by Setrak Sarkissian is much more upbeat, faster, and has less subtle flourishes than Egyptian music.

American Belly Dancers often mix different genres of music into their performances. Their music can be an intriguing (and occasionally confusing) mixture of cultures and genres. An American Cabaret Belly Dancer might have an Arabic Pop song by Hakim or Amir Diab follow a Turkish Chiftitelli Taqseem, which is then followed by a Bollywood Pop song.

American Tribal style dancers often dance to hypnotic modern compositions by diverse artists such as Solace, Omar Faruk, and Sirocco, etc.

If you aren’t sure about the different styles of belly dancing, read Shira’s article "Styles of Belly Dancing in the United States" at

These artists are usually excellent choices. It is nice to have variety in your practice music and remember that good music will inspire you to keep practicing!

Alabina (flamenco/arabic fusion). Their greatest hits album Alabina is favored by dancers that lean toward gypsy/flamenco fusion.

Setrak Sarkissian, famous Lebanese drummer and band leader (Lebanese Cabaret)

Omar Faruk Telekbec (His luscious Turkish gems are wonderfully employed by American Belly Dancers and fusion enthusiasts.)

Reda Darwish (A wonderful Egyptian percussionist now living in San Francisco! Visit him at his store Multiculti on Valencia at 16th in the Mission District! His CDs all have fabulous drum solos!)

Hakim (Arabic Pop)

Hossam Ramzy (Raqs Sharki, fusion, drum solos, you name it!!!)

John Bilezikjian (Turkish, Armenian, and Arabic music -- good for American Style Cabaret)

Tarkan (Turkish Pop music, not Arabic)

Solace (American tribal-style belly dance music)

Adam Basma Arabic Dance Ensemble (folkloric and Lebanese Cabaret, some Egyptian Cabaret too)

The Joy of Belly Dancing by George Abdo (American Style Cabaret)

Strictly Belly Dancing by Eddie The Sheik Kochak (American Style Cabaret)

Belly Dancing for Fortune and Fame featuring the Mogodor Band with Spiro Cardamis (American Style Cabaret)

Jalilah Raks (all of her CDs are great! Egyptian Raks Sharki and Lebanese Cabaret)

CLASSIC Egyptian Artists for Raqs Sharqi

Look for instrumental versions of songs by these classic artists:

Mohamed Abdel Wahab, the legendary Egyptian composer who first began incorporating western instruments into his pieces in the mid-1950's.

Abdel Halim Hafiz -- a legendary Egyptian singer and movie star.

Farid El Atrash (also translitered Al-Atrash) was a renowned oud player, composer, film star, and movie producer. He owned his own movie production company, and he produced and starred in many of his own films. He also composed and performed most of the most used in his films. Thus, his films were often a vehicle for spreading his music throughout the Arabic-speaking world. As a famous movie star in the A Golden Era of Egyptian films, he often co-starred with other famous musicians, singers such as Sabah, Faiza Ahmed, and others,as well as Raqs Sharqi dancers such as Samia Gamal, Naima Akef, and Tahia Carioca.

Om Kouthoum (also sometimes transliterated "Kalsoum") is the GRAND DIVA of Egypt. She is often called The Voice of Egypt. Although the high musical art that she recorded was not originally intended to be "dance" music, the beautiful melodies and complex rhythmic changes of her music soon found its way as instrumental dance peices of great Egyptian Raqs Sharqi dancers from the 1950's and late 1950's onward.

If you wish to learn more about Arabic music or would like to find futher resources related to Arabic music, visit the music page of my which is dedicated to helping those interested in learning the Arabic Language as well as more about the Arabic culture.

Last updated 5/4/2012

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