With that in mind, I wanted to share some CDs that have been my favorites. These have been an inspiration to me and have infused fresh creatively and enthusiasm into my dance over the years. Hopefully some of them either have already worked or will work for you as well! (P.S. Read the whole post to catch the insider tip on free music.)
- Bellydance Superstars Vol. V: The first track, Yearning, is the real shining piece of this album. If you haven't performed to it yourself, you're almost guaranteed to have seen someone else do it. The rest of the CD is good as well, with a number of upbeat tracks that are good for gym classes or when you just want to crank up the energy.
- Made in Zanzibar: Produced by Tamalyn Dallal, this CD is Western classical meets Middle East masterpieces meets African folkloric. Classical orchestral pieces like Canon in D, Scheherazade, and Bolero are mixed with famous Middle Eastern pieces, like Lamma Badda, and smoothed over with a unique east African feeling. It's like a yummy, gooey dessert all blended together with perfect harmony.
- Bellydance Superstars Vol. III: With tracks like Habibi Ya Eini, Ana Wel Leil and Fi El Awel, this CD is regular in my rotation for restaurant shows and parties. The CD has good variety and I've been able to use every track on this album at some point or another.
- House of Tarab (Self-Titled): This album is must for learning the classic belly dance pieces. It's tracks include Aziza, originally composed by Mohamed Abd el-Wahad, and Hibbina, originally composed by Farid al-Atrash, two of the great composers of the Egyptian Golden Age. There is also a beautiful violin solo and a short piece perfect for exit music.
- Turkish Hits Vol. 1: The tunes on this compilation are infectious. And currently, on Amazon, they are also free (just follow the link). My favorites that have recently been in regular rotation for both classes and performances are Dilli Duduk by Tarkan and Askim Baksana Bana by Nazan Oncel. I think the nuances of Turkish music can at times be easier for Western ears to grasp than classical Egyptian, which, at least for me, has made them good starting off points for introducing Middle Eastern music in gym and beginning belly dances classes. Additionally, just about anything by Tarkan is good, which you can also listen to and download from Amazon.