Students often ask me where to find bellydance music. Of course, there is a plethora of music available on Amazon and iTunes, but there are some other wonderful resources out there.
Before we dive in, I’ll talk about finding music you like. It can be difficult to make a selection without hearing the music, or even hearing a 30 second clip. Pandora is a popular choice, but has limited selections of actual Middle Eastern music. Spotify has a much better selection, and you can listen to things without skipping around. I make playlists, “star” what I really love and purchase music I like the most. I watch DVDs and videos on YouTube constantly, and you can use Shazam to identify music you fall in love with. Of course, this will only lead you to modern music integrated into these systems. You really have to dig to find the vintage and truly foreign stuff. No matter what, you will buy tons of music you don’t ever perform. But you can use some for listening, practicing, and just learning.
Maqam and Maqam mp3
On Maqam and Maqam mp3 you can find a wealth of authentic music. Everything from tribal fusion to khaleeji, and even some very rare and vintage recordings. Maqam has very handy categories including birthday, Eid and wedding, so you can find appropriate music for many situations. You can even buy instruments, instructional tools, and collections of music. A real treasure trove!
Bellydance.com has a wide section of CDs, including many for under 5.00. This is a wonderful opportunity to develop your taste and find what you like. They have an even wider selection in the 10-20 dollar range as well. Their customer service is excellent and I always get my order in about two days.
Bhuz is a great resource all around, with forums on every topic imaginable and a word wide swap meet. I scan bhuz almost daily for used music and costuming. You can also discuss music choices and get recommendations from people all over the world.
A lot of really great artists have music available on bandcamp.com, such as House of Tarab and Beats Antique. Possibly the best thing about Bandcamp is that a much larger chunk of proceeds from each sale actually goes to the artist, and you can even round your purchase up and make a donation. I appreciate the ability to choose the download format, including lossless formats such as WAV, FLAC and OGG.
CD Baby also gives a greater percentage of sale price to the artists than Amazon or iTunes. Most albums are available digitally or in hard copy. They have a lot of albums that I have not seen elsewhere. And once you have heard Desert Rose or Sahra Saiidi a million times, originality becomes a quest! (I do love those tracks)
Haflas, Events and Fellow Dancers
Always go to haflas! You never know who is selling their music or costumes, and of course it is worth it to support your community and get inspiration. Large events such as Med Fest have lots of vendors, and many of them sell music!
Radio Bastet and Antique Stores
If you can play records or convert LPs to mp3s, I recommend always checking out the records at your thrift stores and antique stores. You never know what you will find! Music from LP isn’t always high enough quality to perform in a professional setting but there are some real gems. If you know someone with proper equipment, you can also have old tracks cleaned up and remastered digitally.
Radio Bastet is a podcast of amazing vintage music. Listen and learn!
I hope you found some useful resources. Good luck on your musical odyssey!
One thought on “Beyond iTunes – Where to Find Belly Dance Music”
I listen to a *lot* on Spotify (I’m listening to Abdel Halim on spotify as I type this!). It’s brilliant for Arabic music, both pop and classics, and I recommend it often to my students. I usually listen to a lot of different stuff on Spotify, then just buy my favourites from Amazon or wherever when I find things I actually want to use in class or performance.
They don’t have any of the ‘recoded by & for dancers’ stuff though, really, so for that I just have to buy CDs on a blind leap of faith.