Must-Know Songs for Bellydancers: “Alf Leyla Wa Leyla”

August 25, 2014 2 Comments

There was such good feedback from the “Must-Know Songs for Bellydancers: The List You Asked For” post, that we’re diving in deeper here on the blog. Although I’ve covered some of these songs in the “Daily Bellydance Quickies” email, the information on these beautiful classics will have a more permanent home for future reference here on the blog .These will appear on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Mondays of the month – the first is our feature on the Arabic Top 10! So follow along with us and consider this your personal course in the classics and standards of Middle Eastern music!

Who, What and When?

“Alf Leyla Wa Leyla” means “A Thousand and One Nights”. The original version was sung by the incomparable Oum Kalthoum whose name you will see many times in this series! It was released in 1969 with lyrics by Morsi Gmal Aziz and music by Baligh Hamdi.

Musically, this song has a very dramatic beginning that eases into a more mid-tempo section with it’s haunting and familiar melody. This  is a song you could name in 3 notes if you are familiar with it! Dancers should be aware that the original is very lengthy with many different sections, much like the movements of a symphony. The recordings of “Alf Leyla Wa Leyla” found on most belly dance compilation CDs usually have  the opening and closing, and a few selected sections at the musician’s discretion. The full version would be too long for most performance needs. The same is true when you ask a band to play this classic for you. Any Arabic band worth their hummus should know this one – but which sections they play will be a special surprise just for you when you dance – so you’d be wise to get familiar with the whole thing.

Also be aware that there are many moern “remix” versions for dancers. New bellydancers sometimes come across these as their first exposure to “Alf Leyla Wa Leyla” , not realizing that this is a revered classic of Middle Eastern music.

This is my favorite recorded version for performance.

What is the song about?

“Alf Leyla Wa Leyla” is a love song. The singer is with her lover and does not want the night to end. Here are the translated lyrics:

My love, my love, my love,
The night and its sky, its stars and its moon, its moon & its awakening
& you and me, my own love, my own soul,
My love, my love, my love,
The night and its sky, its stars and its moon, its moon & its awakening
& you and me, my own love, my own soul,

All of us, all of us are in love all together,
& passion, ahhh from the passion, ahhh from the passion, ahhh from the passion,
the passion is awaken, giving us a drink of happiness, and saying cheers,
& passion, ahhh from the passion, ahhh from the passion, ahhh from the passion,
the passion is awaken, giving us a drink of happiness, and saying cheers,
my love,

lets live in the eyes of the night, lets live in the eyes of the night,
and we tell the sun, come , come, sun come, after a year, not before a year
come, come, sun come, after a year, not before a year,
this is a beautiful night of love, worth thousand nights and a night, thousand nights and a night,
thousand nights and night, worth all life, what is life but a night, like this night, like this night, night, like this night.

How, How, How, i describe to you my love how before i loved you, how i was my love
How, How, How, i describe to you my love how before i loved you, how i was my love
How, How, How, i describe to you my love how before i loved you, how i was my love
How, How, How, i describe to you my love how before i loved you, how i was my love

i didn’t remember yesterday, didn’t have tomorrow to wait for, and not even i lived my day, my love

How, How, How, i describe to you my love how before i loved you, how i was my love
How, How, How, i describe to you my love how before i loved you, how i was my love

i didn’t remember yesterday, didn’t have tomorrow to wait for, and not even i lived my day, my love

you took me with love in a blink of the eye, you showed me how sweet days are, how sweet days are, how sweet days are,
you took me with love in a blink of the eye, you showed me how sweet days are, how sweet days are, how sweet days are,

The night before that it was strange, strange, now i found peace in it, and life that was a desert , a desert, became now a garden,

My love, lets live in the eyes of the night, lets live in the eyes of the night, l
and we tell the sun, come , come, sun come, after a year, not before a year
come, come, sun come, after a year, not before a year,
this is a beautiful night of love, worth thousand nights and a night, thousand nights and a night,
thousand nights and night, worth all life, what is life but a night, like this night, like this night, night, like this night.

This translation is from LyricsTranslate.com where you can also find the Arabic transliteration. This is useful to determine where in the song each section is.

 

Oum Kalthoum singing part of “Alf Leyla Wa Leyla”

 

Mahin (115 Posts)

Professional instructor and performer of Middle Eastern belly dance, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and author or the “Daily Bellydance Quickies”. Belly Dance Artrepreneur, Workshop instructor, performer, event producer, and bellydance writer.

  1. Rasha Bellydance
    September 1, 2014 at 7:18 am

    Ah, I love these songs so much ^_^ now off I go to listen to Oum Kalthoum…

    Reply

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