How To Prepare Music For Your Belly Dance Show
By Denis Kavemeier, solo guitarist and accomplished musician
When an audience sees a belly dancer perform on stage, they "hear" her too. Many belly dancers concentrate on the visual aspect of their performance and pay too little attention to the belly dancing music that accompanies their performance. Sure, belly dancers will take great care in selecting the music that they wish to belly dance to, but many do not present their belly dance music in a professional manner.
How many times have you attended dance concerts where the belly dancers' performances are marred by poorly recorded, scratchy recordings? Unfortunately, it's a common occurrence, and it reflects poorly on the belly dancer and the concert in general
As a musician, I feel that a belly dancer who can perform to live music stands out from the rest. Belly dancing to good live music will double the excitement level of a belly dancer's performance. However, live music is not always available, and many belly dancers prefer to choreograph their belly dance to recorded music. If you prefer to work with recordings, here are some tips to help make your belly dancing performance more polished and professional.
Find out if your show promoter or club owner has a quality sound system and someone competent to run it. If you end up belly dancing to music on a cheap boom box, it will not give the audience a very good impression. Boom boxes are fine for bellydance telegrams and informal, small gatherings. Larger shows require a better sound system.
The best way is to provide your belly dance music on a compact disc (CD). Use good source material. Good modern and vintage bellydancing music can be found online on commercial sites such as Apple iTunes Store. You can sample the belly dance songs online and choose the songs you want, or download entire albums. It's inexpensive, and it's legal.
If you already own belly dance CD albums , it is better to choose the songs you want and make a custom belly dance CD with just those songs. If you give a sound man a commercial CD and tell him to play "song #5," there's a real good chance that he'll end up playing the wrong song, or there will be a long delay while you wait on stage. I've seen it many times.
Most home computers allow you to extract songs from a commercial compact disc and make custom CDs with the songs in the order that you want. Again, Apple iTunes software does it easily. However, if you want fancy fade-ins and mixes, it will require additional software and the help of someone who knows how to do it.
It's best to use a name brand CD like TDK or Maxell for your mixes, because cheaper quality CDs may not play on some sound systems. Be sure to label your homemade belly dancing CD with your belly dance name and the song name(s).
When you choose your belly dance music, try to avoid long, quiet sections. This may be OK for a serious dance concert, where the audience is paying close attention to your nuances, but the delicate music will be lost if you're belly dancing in noisier situations like parties or at belly grams.
If you extract music from a commercial CD for your belly dancing performance, it's probably legal for a local show. However, if you were to make copies of a commercial belly dance CD and sell it to others, you're violating federal copyright laws. If you use a band's music for commercially released project, you should make arrangements with the band's representatives for use of that music.
As a musician, I've always favored belly dancers who prefer live music for their shows. However, I attended a concert in Chicago by Jasmin Jahal's Ward el Sahar troupe that was so precisely choreographed to well-chosen recorded belly dance music that they won me over. The belly dancers took advantage of every subtle accent in the music. That's the way to do it.
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