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Mid-Eastern and Mediterranean Dance Music: the Cliff Notes

Beginner Playlist for Western Musicians, with Performance Aids

There are a lot of links on this page because videos are constantly being taken down for one reason or another... licensing issues are most common. Sometimes a video will disappear while I am editing one of the sections of the page! In short... If one does not work, try another.
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Al Ain Moulayatin
(Ya Ayn Mulayitayn)

  • Music and Vocals Video featuring the Lebanese singer Samira Tawfik. The section starting at 1:30 is the part most commonly known to Western dancers. At about 2:15 a male dancer in elaborate vest, with a thin cane, starts dancing around and with Samira in a very energetic yet elegant way.

Alf Layla Wa Layla;
Alf Leyla;
Alf Lela u Lela
Elf Leyla we Layla
1001 Nights
A Thousand Nights and a Night
[1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8]

An Om Kalthoum standard.
  • Composed by Baligh Hamdi with lyrics written by Morsi Gamil Aziz.
  • Melodic Modes: Nahawand nawa.
  • Rhythm: Basmudi, Maqsum, Beladi.
Performance videos and music scores:
  • Nile Group video featuring a real accordian on the instrumental solo, not a synthesizer.
  • Mazhar to recorded music on Youtube. Those large jingles are overkill, IMO, but interesting.
  • Alazifoon does a 6:30 version. Solo oud and percussion.
  • Sheet Music at ArabicMusicSheets blog.

Amint Billah
Aminti Billah

Ana Fi Intizarak
Ana Fintizarak
[1, 3, 6, 7]

I'm Waiting For You: A classic Egyptian piece composed by Zakariya Ahmad. An Um Kulthum classic; the opening five minutes are the most likely to be used as dance music.

An Um Kulthum classic.

  • Melodic Modes: Hijaz on A.
    Hijaz Kar (Hijaz on C + Jijaz on G).
Performance videos and musical scores:

Ay Ya Zein
Oh Beautiful
[2**, 3^, 6, 8]

Ayeela Tayha

Ayeela Tayha (Lost Daughter)

Aziza (Egypt)
Azize (Turkey)
[1, 2*, 3, 4, 7, 8]

Composed by Mohamed Abdel Wahab. Lyrics were added when the song became popular in Turkey.

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Bahibek mahma alou anek

Bahlam Beek
Bahlam Bik
[3, 7]

  • Abdel Halim Hafez rendition on YouTube.
  • "I saw you in My Dreams" Lyrics, (both translation and transliteration) on

Banat Iskandaria
Ya Benat Iskandaria
"Girls of Alexandria"
[1, 3, 6]

There are two songs... in circulation with the same name. The first two links are to the folkloric one that may have originated in Turkey; the last two is a song composed by Hamouda Ali. Folkloric: Composed:

Batwanness Beek;
Betwannes Beek
Batwanes Beek
"You are Always With Me"
[2*, 3, 6, 7]

Bint Al Balad
Bent El Balad
Daughter of the Country
[1, 7]

Bint Al Sultan
Bint el Sultan
Bent el Sultan
[6, 7]

Binti Baida
Binti Beida
El Binti Beida
Dayatti Mali
[6, 7]

Bir Demet Yasemin
[1, 3, 5, 8]

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Dala'a el Helween

Daret el Ayam
[6, 7]

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El Enab

EL ENAB, a Shaabi song about, um, fruit, unless it is not :) No political overtones, just fun.

Bhuz thread which includes translation of El Enab:
A fruit seller and I love fruit
I love in banana and mango
In fact, envious on fruit
And do a sale and purchase in good conscience
What is this blackberries blackberries blackberries
Red and yellow.. Red and yellow
Like almonds and red
and its taste is better than bananas

El Fen

El Moulatayin, Ya Ein Moulayyiten

Good saidi cane song.

Enta Omri;
Inta Omri
[1, 3, 4, 7]

Composed by Mohammed Abdel Wahab with lyrics by Ahmed Shafik.
ENTA OMRI (You are my life). From Biz of Bellydance group: Beware: big important Oum Kultum song with lots of meaning and history that Arab audiences will know even if no one is singing. Less challenging Oum Kultum songs that a wider range of dancers can do really well with:
Alternate suggestions:
  • Ana Fi Intizarak is wonderful and easy to hook into emotionally;
  • Alf Leyla Wi Leyla is classic and well known but still interesting;
  • Leylat Hob and Daret Al Ayam are beautiful and appropriate for most occasions.

Erev Shel Shoshanim;


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Fi Youm Wa Layla
[6, 7]

Fire Dance
[ 8 ]

Fog El Nakhal
Foug Al Naghal,
Fog elna khil
[ 8 ]

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Gamil Gamal
Gameel, Gamal
"Beautiful Dancer"
[3, 6, 7]

Gan al-Hawa
Gana El Hawa
[1, 6, 7]

Ghanili Shwaya Shwaya;
Shanny Li Shewaya
Ghannili Shewayyi Shewayyi;
Ghannali Sheway Sheway
"Sing to Me a Little"
[3, 7]

Ccomposed by Zakariyya Ahmed with lyrics by Egyptian poet Mahmud Bayram el-Tunsi.
  • Umm Kulthum rendition on Youtube. Includes English translation.

    Sing to me very gently.
    Sing! my heart is waiting.
    Let me say a melody
    Which will charm the young and old
    And even let the branches sigh,
    Narcissus, jasmine and periwinkle,
    And which will go from mouth to mouth
    To the Sahara plains.
    Sing to me very gently.

Gole Sangam

Sad Iranian love song that seems to make people happy.

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Habibi Ya Aini;
Habibi Ya Eini
Habibi Ya Eyni
Darling, Oh My Eye!
[1, 3, 4, 6, 7]

Habibi Ya Nour El Ein
Nour el Ain
Nour el Nain
"Darling, you are the glow in my Eyes"
[2**, 3, 6, 7]

[2*, 3^]


Harramt Ahebbaek
Harramt Ahebbak
"I give up Loving You"
[3, 6]

[2**, 3^, 6, 7]

Hizzy ya Nawaem
Hizzy Ya Nawaeem
[2**, 3, 7]

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Istanbul dan Goruntuler

Istimem Babacim
Istemem Babacim
[3, 5]

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Kariat el Fingan
El Qariat Fingan
Qarieat Al Finjane
"The Coffee-Cup Reader"

I've foretold, Foretold, Predicted a lot and
I have never known Purpose, Sound, Sadness that was like yours...
Your fate is to forever swim in the sea of love, with no ship
And your life Will be forever, forever, books of tears.
Your fate is to stay trapped between Water and fire.

Karoun Karoun
Garoon Garoon
Garun Garun

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Lamma Bada Yata Sama
Lama Bada Yatathana
[1, 6, 8]

Laylat Hob;
Laylet Hob;
Leylet Hob
Leilet Hob;
Night of Love
[1, 2*, 4, 6, 7, 8]

An Om Kalthoum classic. The all-instrumental introduction is what is commonly played for dancing.
  • Composed by Mohammed Abdel Wahab with lyrics by Ahmad Shafiq Kamel.
  • Melodic modes: G Nahawand, D Bayati.
  • Rhythm: Baladi, Malfuf, Maqsum
Performance Videos and sheet music:

Linda Linda

Linda Linda ya Linda

Lissa Fakir;
Lessa Faker
[3, 7]

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Mariam Mariamti

[2*, 3^, 4, 6, 7]


Mastoom Mastoom



Egyptian Girl
[ 1, 8]


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Nebtidi Minein al-Hikaya
Nebtidi Mnain el-Hikaya
[1, 6, 7]

Nihavent Longa
[5, 8]

Nihavent Oriental
[5, 8]

Norits Karoon.
Norits Karoun Yegav

Armenian folk song.
"Again spring came, spring unique
I saw you again, my lovely sweetheart
You were wearing red, ablaze like a rose
Handsome one from the hills, you came and went
You gave me not one greeting."
— A Near Eastern Music Primer

Commonly performed in : Makam Hicaz Nawa (Hicaz transposed to G tonic).

  • UP:: Hijaz/Rast (two overlapping tetrachords)
  • DOWN:: Hijaz / Nahawand (two overlapping tetrachords)

Rhythm: Jas suggests bolero and maqsum. Performance videos and music scores:

Noura Noura
Noura ya Noura
[3, 6]

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Princess of Cairo


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Raks Leyla (Leyla's Dance)

Rompi Rompi;
Rampi Rampi
Cadirimin Ustune
Rain Dripped on My Tent
[1, 3, 5, 8]

Rumeli Karsilama
[5, 8]

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Salaam Alay;
Sallam Allay
[1, 3^, 6, 7]

Samai Bayati

  • Composer: Ibrahmi Al Aryan
  • 10/8 rhythm.
Performance music and scores:

Samra ya Samra

[1, 7]

Set el Hosen
Seit El Housen
[2*, 3^, 6, 7]

SET EL HOSSEN (The lady of beauty).

Notes from the web: "Malfouf leading into a baladi, and depending if you do a 5 minute version or a 9-10 minute version it will also include other changes of rhythm."

[3^, 6, 8]

SHASKIN: Turkish version of Arabic song Ya Ain Moulayeten. Good saidi cane song.

Shik Shak Shok
[4, 7]

Sidi Mansour
[1, 7]




Let us sneak this one in here. 9/8.
  • Lively vocal. Possibly a Roma group; children sitting in with the band and videos of buildings being demolished as background. Sulukule is in the process of being demolished and being rebuilt as part of the government's plan for extreme urban development and gentrification in the area.
  • Rodehihi plays it as a karshilama!
  • Carmine and friends.
  • As a Romany 9.

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Tab Wana Maly

Tahtil Shebbak
Taht Il Shibbak
[3, 7]

Tamr Henna
Henna Flower
[1, 2*, 3^, 4, 6, 7, 8]

Composed by Mohammed Moogy. two versions were composed.

Telegrafin Telleri
[5, 6]

[2***, 3, 6]


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Uskudara Giderkin
Uskudara Gider Iken
[1, 5, 6, 8]

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Wallah Zemain
Wallah Zaman
(Not the one by Warda)

[3^, 6, 7]

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Ya Mustafa
Mustafa Ya Mustafa
[1, 3]

Composed by Mohamed Fawzi. This song, based on a Greek melody, became popular in Egypt in the 1950s.

Yin Ein Mulateyn
Ya Ain Moulayeten
Eyes Behind the Veil
[6, 7]

Good cane song. Lebanese dabke piece. Aka Saskin in Turkey.

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Zay el Hawa;
Zay al Hawa
[2*, 3^, 4, 6, 7, 8]

[2**, 3^, 4, 7, 8]

ZEINA (Delightfully Pleasant Lady)
  • Composer: Mohammed Abdel Wahab.
  • Melodic Modes: Maqam Hijaz.
  • Rhythm: Masmudi Saghir (Baladi), Ayyub.
Performance videos and sheet music:

[ TOP ]

[1] Asharah: 2012 Fuse article about MED music for tribal dancers.
[2] Dahlal: Classic list of 15 Songs You Should Know;
[3] MBA: "Most Suggested" songs on Bhuz, 2008;
[4] Hollywood Music CD: 10 Songs Every Belly dancer Should Know;
[5] Aslahan: Songs Every Turkish Dancer Should Know;
[6] Posts on the Facebook Business of Bellydance group;
[7] Suhaila: Compositions Every Belly Dancer Should Know.
[8] Shimmydown Social jam favorite.
Dahlal broke her list down into opening (*), midsection (**) and finale (***) recommendations.


A tip: when performing a multi-part piece, make sure that both musician and dancer agree on what parts are being played and in what order!

Asharah, Essential cabaret Music for the Tribal Fusion Dancer, 2009 Web version of her 2012 Fuse Magazine article on the same subject.

Aslahan, Songs Every Turkish Dancer Should Know, Web. sheet music.

Dahlal: Classic list of 15 Songs You Should Know used to be posted on her site, but it has been taken down.

Maqam World:

Maura Enright, Arabic Music for Western Musicians, Web.

Maura Enright, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Music Rhythms: the Cliff Notes, Web.

Maura Enright, Staring a Middle Eastern Music band, Web.

Hollywood Music, 10 Songs Every Belly dancer Should Know, CD.

Janina, The Djipzi's Songs Every (Tribal) Bellydancer Should Know, Web.

Madison Belly dance Alliance (MBA), Most Suggested" songs on Bhuz, 2008. Web.

Shimmydown Social sheet music.

Suhaila Salimpour, Compositions Every Belly Dancer Should Know.

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© by Maura Enright
Last updated: 2019.05.29
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