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Music Theory 101: Instruments of the Takht Ensemble - The Oud

Now that we’ve covered some very basic music terminology (there will always be more terms to learn of course), let’s dive deeper into our music lessons and learn about some of the instruments you might commonly hear in your favorite classic belly dance tunes!

We’ll start by learning about the instruments of the Takht (or Takhat), which is the musical ensemble or orchestra in Middle Eastern music. Some of the instruments you might find in the Takht ensemble are the Oud, Qanun, Violin, Ney, Riq, and Darbuka. (“Takht (Music)”)

(Oud - Photo by Frank Kovalchek)


                     (Qanun)                                                                                  (Riq - Photo by Catrin)

                     (Ney)                                                                                                     (Darbuka)

That’s a lot of different instruments, and it’s only the beginning! Every country and region has its own special instruments and you might find that instruments have different names depending on where you travel.

So let’s tackle one instrument at a time, beginning with the Oud.


(Syrian musicians in Aleppo with an Oud, 1915)

The Oud (ud) is derived from the Arabic word for wood: al-ud (العود). It has a pear shaped wooden frame and a short neck with 11 to 13 strings and no frets, which gives it a very distinct sound. (Parfitt) You can find the Oud used in “Persian, Greek, Turkish, Byzantine, Arabia...

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3 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips Music By Datura Online Staff

Datura Online Process Banner

This Edition: Music that gets you up and dancing...


“The songs and rhythms make my body move before I know what is going on.” - Colette

The Process -

Q: What music is inspiring you to dance right now?

 The latest CD by Ilahun, a young band from Salta, Argentina is gorgeous! Unfortunately, they aren't on itunes, Spotify, etc. Instead, they sell the CDs at their shows around South America, as does one of the band members sister, Lujan. Somehow, this CD is making the rounds in China, copy by copy and many people don't know where it is from nor who created it. The Lakhdar Hanou Ensemble has an amazing Andalusian- Arabic music CD with a Chinese instrumentalist. Really great. It's called "Ne Fut-ce Qu'en Chine".

 I have found myself returning to the music I was introduced to when I began belly dancing. Specifically, Aisha Ali's field recording of The Music of the Fellahin, and the Music of the Oulid Nail. The Music of the Fellahin has songs I routinely use in class and this album gave me some of my first tastes of Middle Eastern instruments (argul, mizmar, and doumbec) and rhythms. One song that always mesmerized me when I watched FatChanceBellyDance perform to it was Saidi Dance. I have also been listening to Music of the Oulid Nail for inspiration. The songs and rhythms make my body move before I know what is going on. After taking Journey Through Egypt, I was able to place the music to a specific location, and being able to visualize who was creating the music has re...

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6 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips The Process By Datura Online Staff

We’d like to talk a little bit about music theory…wait, wait, wait! Don’t run away just yet!

animals running nope octopus run away

We know music theory can be a bit daunting, but today we’re just going to touch on the basics and ask ourselves a few questions about music.

There certainly is a dynamic and important relationship between music and belly dance. A few good questions to ask ourselves as dancers are: How much do I need or want to know about music? Will knowing more about music affect the way I dance? If yes, then how much should I study?

The answers are ultimately up to you as an individual, but for those interested in exploring the world of music, we’re here to share a few practice tips for training your ear, give you just the basics of how music is put together, and show how you can apply basic music theory to your own personal practice.

Let’s start at the very beginning: Music is the “art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color” (dictionary.com). As belly dancers we’re exposed to all kinds of wonderful music from all over the world and we can innately understand the differences and similarities of all the music we hear.

Most of the music we encounter in our dance has a beat to it, although there are some exceptions: drum solos definitely have a beat, but an oud or violin taxim solo might not. We can find a great example of this in Sedona’s choreography, danced to the song Jemilleh.
The musician, John Bilezikjian, plays a beautiful taxim...
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3 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips Music By Datura Online Staff

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This Edition: What music inspires you to dance and where do you go to search for new music?

 Mary Pickford guitar

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” -Victor Hugo

The Community -

Welcome to the Datura Online Community, where we share our thoughts, tips, and resources together in one place!

Each month we ask the DO community a question here on the Datura Online blog and we want to hear your thoughts.

Q: This month's question has two parts: 1) What music is inspiring you to dance right now? And 2) where do you go to search for new music?

We'll feature responses from the Datura Online community right here in our blog. We look forward to hearing from you all!

Thanks for reading. Please post your stories about belly dance and the dance making process in the comments below or on our Facebook or Instagram pages.

11 Comments | Posted in News Practice Tips Music The Community By Datura Online Staff

Musician Spotlight: Elsie Jaiar

Jan 23, 2017 11:00:00 AM

Elsie Jaiar - Lauren Checchio & Jay Reynolds

David Reihs by Pheobus PhotoTogether Lauren Checchio (Divahn, Solar Falcon) and Jay Reynolds (Bootsy Collins, Freekbass) are Elsie Jaiar, a band that creates belly dance-inspired music that looks to the future. Elsie Jaiar's music is featured in many Datura Online classes with April Rose. Here are some of their insights into creating music.

5 Q's with Elsie Jaiar:

DO: How did you both get interested in music?

Lauren: My interest in music sparked at a very young age when I started playing cello in school. On my 21st birthday I was fortunate enough to attend the Oregon Country Fair, which presented a tribal style of belly dance. To that point I had no experience outside of the traditional style. At the fair I saw Sharon Kihara perform and she was such an inspiration to me that it changed my life path. I focused on the drums from that point forward. The whole thing came full circle for me at 3rd Coast Tribal Festival when Sharon asked me to improv for her at the show the following night.

Jay: I started on piano when I was ten then switched to flute a year or two after that. When I got to middle school band, I took up the saxophone. On my 15th birthday, my grandfather bought me a copy of Cannonball Adderly's greatest hits. Halfway through "Jive Samba" I was absolutely floored. I had not really heard modern jazz before, and I no idea you could just make up stuff as you went in music, much less with that degree of prowess.

DO: What brought you to the belly dance scene?


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1 Comments | Posted in News Music By Datura Online Staff

Musician Spotlight: David Reihs

Apr 28, 2015 11:19:00 AM

David Reihs dhavir productions and Ritim Egzotik

David Reihs by Pheobus PhotoMusician, Composer, and Multi-Instrumentalist David Reihs’ music is featured in many Datura Online classes with Henna. Here are some of this talented artist's insights into his work, and why he loves playing music for dancers.

Photo : Phoebus-Foto

7 Q's with David Reihs:

DO: When/how did you get started playing music and what was your first instrument and style?

DRI started playing around on my parents' Hammond home organ and learning popular songs by ear from about 8 years old. I really liked percussion, but didn't like the bell set they gave me, that's not what KISS used, ya know? Then the school band director told my parents he needed trombone players, and I guess I was agreeable, so I did that through a year of college and some odd gigs after that before retiring and moving on back to keyboards and some guitar. So I formally learned trombone and played classical, jazz and American symphonic and marching band music. I also was lucky enough to work all through high school as the assistant to the local music store owner and learned all about instruments, got to fix them and consequently try them all out - it was a blast!

DO: So, when and why did you start playing Middle Eastern Music?

DR: When I was about 1 year old, my mom took bellydance lessons. I don't remember it of course, but I must have heard the songs she practised to from the one album she had. Fast forward 30 years to the year 2000 and I started overhearing my bellydance...

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0 Comments | Posted in News Music By Danielle Elizabeth

Musician Spotlight: Sonja Drakulich of Stellamara

Sonja by Evan FraserJoin us in celebrating another musician who is also a dance enthusiast, Sonja Drakulich of Stellamara. Stellamara, of which Sonja is a founder and main vocalist, was featured in Colleena Shakti's debut Datura Online choreography "Lado". Sonja and Stellamara love collaborating with dance artists, and their eccelectic music, with influences from around the world, is a great fit for fusion dancers. Currently based in California, Sonja frequently tours around the world, and in true D.O. fashion we're "bringing her to you"...wherever you are with this short interview.

Photo : Evan Fraser

5 Q's with Sonja Drakulich:

DO: Some listeners might classify this band as "world music"... how do you classify, or describe, yourselves?

SD"World music" is probably the most general genre there is since it includes everyone in the world. I would say our music is: Cinemagraphic / Near Eastern / Balkan / Electro-Acoustic / World-Folk.  It's not the easiest music to describe.

DO: What are some of the genres/cultures that influence Stellamara's unique sound?

SDMost definitely the music of our mentor, Ross Daly. There is such a long list to mention here, yet myself and my primary music partner, Gari Hegedus, have spent the better part of our lives studying the modal music of the Near and Middle East, primarily Turkish and Arabic classical and folk traditions. I also am influenced by Persian and Medieval European styles. My main influence in my vocal styli...

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1 Comments | Posted in News Music By Danielle Elizabeth

Doug Adamz of Light Rain!

Mar 1, 2013 10:05:00 AM

Doug Adamz and Light Rain on Datura Online

Composer Doug Adamz and Light Rain’s music is featured in many classes with Ashley Lopez. Here's more about this accomplished composer with the story of the music of Light Rain.

Light Rain Dream Suite AlbumDoug Adamz of Light Rain has been inspired by, and is inspiring, dancers world-wide for over 20 years with his original compositions of middle eastern style “world beat” music. He’s a guitarist, violinist, and all-around kind and talented guy. His music has been played for budding belly dancers as well as for the Joffrey ballet; in small crowded cafes as well as sold-out opera houses. From street corner busker, to sought-after collaborator around the world... here is a part of his fascinating story.



5 Q's with Doug Adamz:

DO: What is your musical background and how did it lead you to creating music loved by belly dancers?

DAI was a choirboy.  I grew up in El Paso, Texas; desert land on the Mexican border.  My first musical training and my first performances were with the Trinity Methodist Church Boy’s Choir.  At age ten, I joined the school band and played the trombone; practicing, marching, and occasionally concertizing.  

Three years later, my dad came home from Juárez with a guitar.  After I had learned a few chords, one of my classmates, Ron Evans, invited to me to come over and play guitars.  He knew everything!  We started a rock band which included my brother, Darrell, and drummer, Jack Barrett.  Needless to say, my trombone career ended with the ownersh...

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0 Comments | Posted in News Music By Danielle Elizabeth Smith


Nov 19, 2012 11:05:00 AM

Solace joins Datura Online

Solace Joins Datura Online

We are pleased to welcome Jeremiah Soto, the artist known as Solace. His music will be featured in classes throughout the site, and will make a debut in a new choreography workshop with Ashley Lopez to his track "Bounce".

Here is a mini-interview with Solace for you to learn more about where the music comes from.

Enjoy Solace!

3 Q's with Solace:

DO: Why do you think your music works well for belly dance?

JSI make my music to tell a story, either personal or impersonal. I try to be as honest as I can and I think dancers can sense that. They can allow themselves to let the music influence their moves. Melody is as important as rhythm, writing with heart and conviction, adding nuances and tension... I think that caters to Tribal Fusion dancers. I enjoy it when a dancer can be musical to something I composed.

DO: Did you have any experience or intention of working with belly dancers before you began recording your music, or was it a surprise?

JS: I started making music on a tiny Casio keyboard when I was 16. I wanted to sound like Depeche Mode and the Cure. Being in a gothic band and a Dead Can Dance inspired band, I never would have thought I would be where I am. On a personal note: I was a shy and introverted kid who felt insecure and awkward around women. Now I am surrounded by some of the most talented and beautiful women in the world which is another thing I would have never imagined all those years ago.

DOHow many albums have you made? What keeps the c...

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0 Comments | Posted in News Music By Danielle Elizabeth Smith

Introducing: Radio Laria

Aug 15, 2012 6:53:49 PM

Introducing... Radio Laria! These kids are your current drill companions and the solid backbone to Datura Online's class playlists.

Radio Laria

Their music is a fusion of technically exquisite traditional rhythms and gently experimental non-traditional instrumentation with a dash of electronic inspiration, and they've built it just for belly dance.

You can find their music for purchase to the right of the videos on the video player page in the 'Class Playlist'.

Class Playlist

Click on 'Class Playlist' to open the Featured Music window, and you can preview songs, download individual tracks or buy entire albums.

Featured Music

To make it easy, here's a link to where you can buy their three albums directly: http://radiolaria.bandcamp.com/.

We're so grateful they have made such danceable tracks and hope you enjoy them wherever you may roam! Music will continually be added to Datura Online, so keep your eyes on that class playlist. Thanks for reading... and listening!

0 Comments | Posted in News Music By SC

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