In the early days of Tribal – we’re talking, woah, more than 10 years ago – all of this fab technology like music subscription services like Spotify and Pandora, mp3’s online, Youtube…they just were not really available. Or, well, some were in their infancy, but we just didn’t have this wealth of music at our fingertips (let’s all take a moment to be grateful for iTunes!). So our community of Tribal dancers, instructors, and performers was a tight-knit one that was hungry for music that would work well for the dance. So what’s a dancer to do? Well a lot of what was available was great but, in the tradition of most bellydance music, had a lot of lyrical overtones and rhythmic transitions. Beautiful music but for group improv it could be quite challenging or just not work at all.
And so, the dancers made their own music!
In some cases partnering with musician friends, in other cases simply saying “let’s just do this ourselves!” our early Tribal Mama’s (and Papa’s!) got together and made some gorgeous music that is still heard on the regular today. These artists have long been in rotation in my rockin’ playlists, and I suspect they’ll quickly become a favorite of yours whenever you’re looking for earthy, steady beats.
Here are three “Classic” artists whose Tribal sounds have carried our hips swaying through the years:
Gypsy Caravan – Wait Misha, isn’t that your dance style? YES. But also a band! Mama P’s fab partner is a musician and OH did they bring the sound! Before I became immersed in GC style, the music was my absolute fav, and I had their entire discography in my collection before I’d managed to find too many other artists. GC stands out as a very consistent producer of music that’s simply perfect for Tribal dance – they get it and create music that works quite nicely for the style. The Gypsy Caravan Band’s enjoyed great success and recognition, too, for their work to create beautiful music, winning multiple awards from the community. And the band’s members continue to play even today, after different incarnations as Mizna and Caravan Project, two other musical groups also worth a listen. Check out: Saidi Walk for a fun and peppy medium speed song and Carolyn’s Walk, probably my all time favorite slow song EVER
Helm – If Gypsy Caravan had, well, Gypsy Caravan then Fat Chance Bellydance had Helm. This band worked closely with FCBD and created some wonderfully classic pieces filled with reedy mizmars and neys, perfectly blending in with the baseline to provide just enough melody to carry along with the hypnotic drums. Like GC, they even created a rhythm cd to help dancers learn the different drum sounds and patterns, another great resource to add to your music collection. Check out: Hosanni Oo, sure to put a shimmy in your step, and Soul with Spice which is a great example of a Tribal style drum solo
Solace – Solace, headed up by Jeremiah Soto, is another “classic” band from the early days of Tribal. Over the years, his sound has shifted and occasionally specialized, wandering from the original pounding dums and teks to explore more electronic vibes appropriate for tribal fusion dancers and even Indian and Asian beats. I’ve heard it said that Soto created Solace as a sort of response to the Tribal community, and he’s proven that his music is a gift that continues to deliver to dancers even today. Check out: Exiled for a smoldering chiftitelli great for sword work or general slinking and Bounce, recently chosen as the song for the annual ATS flash mob