Arabian Music

Introduction (part 1) | Arabian Music (part 2) | Rules for Dancing (part 3)

Arabian Music

Arabian music, in general is divided into simple parts:

1. The Rhythm

And lets face it, most of the Egyptian dance music is done to the Maqsoum, Masmoudi, Fallahy, Saaidi or the Karatchy. If it becomes a bit sophisticated, then they use the Samaai (10/8). (All these rhythms are available on my CD RHYTHMS OF THE NILE EUCD 1427) Where I explain the rhythms, how to play them and how they should sound like.

Also, the good thing is that: On one rhythm you can have a million songs composed, but any song can be done to one or two rhythms to make it express the right intended feel.

2. The main Melody

This is played by the full orchestra or by individual musicians.

3. The Orchestral arrangements

This is the whole band playing in unison between the main phrases. Or between the verses or choruses. This is what we call the “LAZMAH” and it can be between the phrases between the verses or choruses or just between the small solos that are the body of the main melodic statement between the verses or choruses.

ALL Arabian music is played in a “Call & Reply” Format.

This means either the soloing instrumentalist does the call and the orchestra replies or the other way around, or even two different instrumentalists would call and reply to each other.

4. The Harmony

This is the other musical part accompanying the music. Normally in thirds or fifths in tonality, running with, over, or under, or contra (against) to the main melody, but is not the main melody.

I know the exact look you are giving me right now, but, be patient my dear…my aim is to have you enjoy your dance… not to complicate things for you.


Now if you are dancing to a piece of music, you should at least pay a bit of attention to that music, and learn a bit about it.

I mean, I’ve heard it so much from dancers, worldwide, that: “The musicians don’t pay any attention to me when I am dancing”.

Well my dear, my answer is: They would if you were doing anything remotely connected to the music they are playing “FOR YOU”. The average Arabian musician who is living in the States, Europe, or even in Egypt is a highly frustrated artist. He is desperate for joint creativity. He would love to play for a dancer who would {PHYSICALLY TRANSLATE} the sounds he is creating for her into movement. It is like seeing your own sound come alive in 3D. I think this is the purpose of dancing. That is to 3D-fy and make the sound visible. And vice-versa.

I know….this is making me very unpopular as I speak, but I will not go esoteric on you and promise you the dance of the seven veils or the sultan’s palace dreams just to be popular, I want to see and make ABLE DANCERS, who know their business just as good as any top Flamenco or Indian dancer.

Basically as a well-seasoned club and concert musician who has worked for more years than I care to admit with the greatest as well as the not so great, I had to learn the hard way, and I know what I am talking about. And hopefully I will pass on whatever useful knowledge I have over to you, so that you and all the others can benefit from it.

Now as I said earlier, the music is in sections, now…organise your dance according to these sections. There is a couple of simple rule I have for dancing :



Now if you listen carefully, Check out the introduction, then the orchestral passages, when you have a large sound coming out of the big orchestra, say 10-20 musicians, please do not stand there on one spot in a demure position doing tiny intimate type of movement. GROW BIG, explore your stage, greet your audience, run if you have to.

Then as I am sure of Egyptian dance music, one soloist will be playing a phrase,…. well according to the type of instrument that is soloing, then make your movement to suit that.


Introduction (part 1) | Arabian Music (part 2) | Rules for Dancing (part 3)