When I first began teaching, I had a 32-CD case full of music I had collected for listening and practice (and there was a lot more than that which didn’t fit in those sleeves and stayed at home). But among that collection, there were a few albums which were regularly used in my classes and performances–they were the ‘must-have’ albums for tribal dancers in those early days of the genre–which are still among my favorites today. I thought I would share those titles with you, so if you don’t already own them, you can fill out your musical collection if you are inspired. Of course, you probably don’t buy CD’s very much these days, so I am linking to their MP3 downloads for your convenience.
Gypsy Caravan – Migration
This has always been my absolute “if you are a tribal bellydancer, you simply must own this album” recommendation. To this day some of my favorite tunes are on this album, and bring me right back to those salad days of tribal bellydance.
Helm – F’il Waha, At the Oasis
Like many people at the time, through friends in the SCA was how I was initially introduced to tribal bellydance. Which makes sense, since tribal bellydance grew from Ren Faires, and the music which was their backdrop was created in and around this creative energy. Helm was the band at the Northern California Pleasure Faire, playing for groups such as the original Bal Anat and Hahbi ‘Ru; and Helm now works closely with Carolena and FatChanceBellydance on many live and recording collaborations.
Cheb i Sabbah – Shri Durga
(and don’t miss MahaMaya- Shri Durga Remixed as well!)
Cheb i Sabbah was at the forefront of the Asian Massive movement, and has become a staple in tribal bellydancer’s music collections. I remember when my friend Zanbaka loaned me these albums back in the day–they blew my mind, and I knew I had to get my hands on copies of my own. As UK imports at the time, they weren’t cheap, but so worth it. Lucky for you, they are affordable and downloadable now!
Hamsa Lila – Gathering One
Hamsa Lila is a lesser known group among tribal bellydancers, but they hold a special place in my heart. Not only is their playfully upbeat music part of my dancing memories, my troupe at the time got to open for them at a concert they had here in Seattle long ago. I still remember how giddy I was, and how in awe of their live show I was. If you get a chance to see them live, do it! (PS they toured with Tinariwen as early as fall 2010–how is that for an excellent lineup?)
Solace – Rhythm of the Dance
Jeremiah Soto’s Solace is a soundtrack of the evolution of tribal bellydance, in my opinion. From his earliest folkier works, which include Rhythm of the Dance, on into his modern funky remixes, you can see how his creative path has been tightly in tandem with the zigs and zags of tribal and tribal fusion bellydance. Much of Jeremiah’s instrumental work is electronic, but the drumming is primarily by his own skilled hands; the latter more organic expression being much more my preference. This album was a frequent tool in my arsenal as I was learning drumming and finger cymbals, learning rhythm names and patterns, as well as great for straight up drilling. (I would also include Shawaza and Ahsas among important early Solace albums for me)
Children Of Paradise
Children of Paradise was a world fusion band in Portland, who sometimes would play for Jane Archer’s Circle Dance Company. Their one album from 1999 was definitely created with tribal bellydance and old school tribal in mind.
For fun, here is a video about Children of Paradise, featuring Circle Dance Company! Can you see that Portland tribal vibe/influence throughout the work? It’s really a great piece of video. Hope you enjoy it!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! This dance is such a blessing in my life, and that includes all of you beautiful dancers out there. I wish for abundance and contentment for you and yours this holiday!