Chapter 12—From Baladi to Belly Dance: Rhythm, Dance, and Music in Egypt and Beyond
Broughton, Simon, Mark Ellingham, and Jon Lusk (eds.). 2006. The Rough Guide to World Music: Africa & the Middle East. 3rd ed. Rough Guides.
This is a good resource for information on popular music traditions. Articles provide historical information, cultural contexts for performance, descriptions of selected musical genres, and biographical sketches of selected North African and Middle Eastern artists.
Danielson, Virginia, Scott Marcus, and Dwight Reynolds (eds.). 2001. The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Volume 6: The Middle East. Routledge.
Comprehensive and authoritative general reference work on musics of the Middle East, with articles by leading scholars on music cultures and regions including North Africa, the Eastern Arab world, the Arabian peninsula, Armenia, Kurdistan, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Israel. Includes a compact disk of illustrative musical examples.
Roote, Deane L. et al. (eds.). 2009-. Grove Music Online. Oxford University Press. Available: http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/(by subscription).
Part of the Oxford Music Online gateway, this online resource includes the full text of the 2d edition of the multi-volume New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, with ongoing updates. Articles on music by country or region, musical genres, musical instruments, and well-known performers offer valuable information for fact-checking as well as in-depth research.
Al-Rawi, Rosina-Fawzia (trans. Monique Arav). 1999. Grandmother’s Secrets: The Ancient Rituals and Healing Power of Belly Dance. Interlink.
Al-Rawi’s personal accounts of her experiences growing up and learning to dance are the highlight. Her historical perspectives are also interesting, though largely speculative.
Buonaventura, Wendy. 1998. Serpent of the Nile: Women and Dance in the Arab World. Interlink.
Lavishly illustrated with full-color photographs and reproductions of Orientalist paintings. The text is informative, though scholarly accuracy is not consistent throughout. Originally published in 1989.
Danielson, Virginia. 1997. The Voice of Egypt: Umm Kulthūm, Arabic Song, and Egyptian Society in the Twentieth Century. University of Chicago Press.
Award-winning biography of the legendary Egyptian singer by a leading ethnomusicologist. Highly revealing in terms of both musical and sociopolitical history on many levels.
Marcus, Scott. 2006. Music in Egypt. Global Music Series. Oxford University Press.
Introductory-level volume by a leading scholar of Egyptian music. Includes a compact disk of illustrative musical examples.
Nelson, Kristina. 2001. The Art of Reciting the Qur’an. American University in Cairo Press.
Authoritative, scholarly monograph on Qur’anic recitation (see also Rasmussen below for an interesting counterpart to this title that focuses on Qur’anic recitation by women in Indonesia).
Racy, A. J. 2003. Making Music in the Arab World: The Culture and Artistry of Tarab. Cambridge University Press.
Focuses on the affective power of Arab music, as experienced by musicians and listeners in multiple contexts. Tarab is a difficult-to-translate concept having to do with Arab music and the ecstatic feelings associated with it. Racy also moves beyond the particular subject at hand to look at ecstatic experience in a variety of other musicultural contexts in other world regions.
Rasmussen, Anne. 2010. Women, the Recited Qur’an, and Islamic Music in Indonesia. University of California Press.
Though not focused on the Egypt/Middle East region central to the chapter, this book sheds light on salient issues of Islamic religious practice, conceptions of the relationship between music and worship, gender issues, and the practices and aesthetics of Qur’anic recitation. Readings from and discussion of this book could provide an interesting point of connection between Chapter 12 and Chapter 7.
Richards, Tazz (ed.). 2000. The Belly Dance Book: Rediscovering the Oldest Dance. Backbeat Press.
A good basic primer on the topic, with interesting articles on everything from belly dance history to costuming, dance rhythms, and how to organize a dance routine. Not a scholarly work per se, but informative and useful.
Said, Edward. 1979. Orientalism. Vintage Books.
Important and widely influential critical history of the phenomenon of Orientalism and its impact on relations between Western and Middle Eastern cultures specifically.
Shiloah, Amnon. 1995. Music in the World of Islam: A Socio-Cultural Study. Wayne State University Press.
A comprehensive survey, with chapters on Islam and music, compositional and improvisational traditions, regional styles, dance (including a short section on belly dance), folk music, and scales, modes, and rhythms. Habib Hassan Touma’s The Music of the Arabs (Amadeus Press, 1996) is a complementary source (with a good chapter on Arab music instruments).
van Nieuwkerk, Karin. 1995. “A Trade Like Any Other”: Female Singers and Dancers in Egypt. University of Texas Press.
Anthropological study of female entertainers, their profession, and the culture surrounding both, in modern Cairo. Provides an inside view of the lives of professional Egyptian dancers and singers and their strategies for coping with the social stigma attached to their occupation.
Zuhur, Sherifa (ed.). 1998. Images of Enchantment: Visual and Performing Arts of the Middle East. American University in Cairo Press.
Collection of essays by leading scholars of Middle Eastern arts, including music and dance. Essay topics include the dancer Farida Fahmy, Hollywood film representations of “Middle Eastern” themes, the relationship of Umm Kulthum and Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasser, the changing images and shifting identities of female dance performers in Egypt, and Arab-American music. A complementary volume, Colors of Enchantment, offers additional essays of interest.