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Modern Bellydance from Lebanon - Sunset Princess

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Album Review

There is a booming industry in belly dancing music. Much of it is of questionable authenticity, but it can still be fun. The industry is not supported by men eager to watch belly dancing, but rather by women who practice belly dancing for its spiritual and physical benefits. Lebanon's Emad Sayyah is a one-man belly dance music factory. On this disc, which is at least his fifth from ARC, he writes and arranges all the music, plays all the instruments except percussion, and sings. Although the percussion, ably served up by Abdo Manssour, is played on traditional instruments and uses mostly traditional rhythms, the music and other instruments can best be described as ersatz. This quality is most apparent on "Jibaal Wa Widyaan (Mountains and Valleys)," which sounds like music you'd hear on the calliope at the circus. Sayyah makes use of Western instruments like the saxophone, violin, and (gasp!) synthesizer. He avoids the quarter-tone scales typical of Middle-Eastern music. Also, he often uses melodic structures more typical of Western music; actually, what he usually presents is a Western-friendly stereotype of Arabic music, something like what you'd expect to hear in a cartoon of Bugs Bunny visiting the Casbah. But it's pointless to criticize musicians like Sayyah: What people want from him is a good rhythms and a Middle-Eastern "feel," and these he provides.

Top Albums and Songs by Emad Sayyah

Modern Bellydance from Lebanon - Sunset Princess, Emad Sayyah
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  • £7.99
  • Genres: World, Music, Arabic, Asia
  • Released: 14 July 1999

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