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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

A Review Of

Dark Fire

by Light Rain




For Oriental dance artists who are looking for non-Middle Eastern music to use in fusion pieces, the music by Light Rain is worth considering. This band, based in the San Francisco area, plays its own original compositions on violin, flute, guitar, and other instruments accompanied by drumming with a Middle Eastern beat. The band's style isn't easy to characterize - perhaps the best description would be world beat. Dark Fire Album Cover



Fact Sheet

Musical Style Fusion of Middle Eastern beats with original compositions
Instruments Violin, recorder, keyboard, English horn, guitar, & percussion
Dance Style Best Suited To... Fusion, American Classic
Recommended Dance Skill Level All levels
Length of Music 40:43
Number of Songs 10
Packaging Lists other albums by the band




The music of Light Rain has been part of the San Francisco belly dancing culture since the mid-1970's, and today remains very popular with the U.S. dance community. Doug Adams, the lead musician for the band and composer of most of their music, met a dancer named DeAnn in 1973 when she was performing as a street entertainer in San Francisco. De Ann's dancing inspired Doug to compose music for her to use in performances, and Light Rain was born. De Ann and Doug co-produced their first album in 1977, Dream Dancer. Some of their music has been used by renowned dance companies, including the Joffrey Ballet. This review focuses on Dark Fire, the last of their four albums and the most popular, which was released in 1993.

The music of Light Rain is often described as New Age or World Beat. Nearly every song is accompanied by drumming and finger cymbals playing Middle Eastern rhythms, but the melodies are purely New World in character. They don't rely on many of the Middle Eastern musical techniques such as maqamat, quarter tones, etc., but still the rhythm and spirit remains compatible with the undulations and shimmies of Oriental dance.
The predominant instrument on most of the songs is violin, played by Doug Adams. I like Doug's playing very much. He is very skilled, and some of the songs require very intricate technique which he executes very well.

Most of the songs on this collection could be good for beginners to use in practicing at home. The drumming and finger cymbal rhythm tends to be crisp and easy to hear, and on most songs there is a single prevailing rhythm from beginning to end that would be easy for a beginner to follow. However, I would advise against beginners using the ones longer than 3 1/2 minutes to perform, because it's hard for someone just starting out to maintain an interesting performance for a song much longer than that.

The length of some of the songs limit how they can be used unless you have the equipment and skill to cut music. For example, I'd hesitate to use any song longer than 4 minutes for student choreography unless I cut it first because people have trouble memorizing choreography that long.

Despite the fact that it's beginner-friendly, this music is also certainly good for experienced dancers, expecially in situations like haflas and large festivals that feature an endless parade of many performers. It can provide the kind of change-of-pace sound to make an individual dancer stand out.



Songs Included


Song Title



Music Clip?



The Gypsies 3:04 U.S.A. Yes Not applicable Very popular piece, used by many dancers. Rhythm is spirited maqsoum. Lead instrument is violin.
Serpentina 5:10 U.S.A. Yes Not applicable Lyrical, flowing, nice for veil work.
The Devil's Daughter 4:17 U.S.A. No Not applicable Reminded me of flute music from Peru. Rhythm is quick maqsoum.
Dark Fire 5:10 U.S.A. Yes Not applicable Meditative, pretty. Uses chiftetelli rhythm.
DeAnn's Dream 3:16 U.S.A. No Not applicable Maqsoum rhythm, medium speed.
Gabe's Cat 3:22 U.S.A. Yes Not applicable Medium speed maqsoum rhythm. Violin is lead instrument. One of the widely used songs.
Moonrise 4:43 U.S.A. No Not applicable Mellow, flowing. Good for veil work.
The King's Coast 2:44 U.S.A. No Not applicable To me, this one sounds like European Renaissance music. Flute is lead instrument. Doesn't make me feel like doing Oriental dance.
Temple Dance 4:38 U.S.A. No Not applicable Not recommended for beginning dancers because of frequent rhythm changes. Mysterious, moody.
Chase the Wind 4:19 U.S.A. No Not applicable Lead instrument is violin. Quick tempo, with some tricky rhythms. Probably not good choice for beginning dancers. Well-named, has a certain bright energy.



Is It Right for You?

You Will Probably Enjoy This Music If...

  • You'd like to dance to alternative music rather than to traditional Middle Eastern music.
  • You're tired of your existing music collection and you're looking for a change of pace.
  • You frequently dance in situations where several other dancers use classic Middle Eastern influence and you'd prefer to set yourself apart with a unique program.

This Music Probably Isn't Right for You If...

  • You usually dance for ethnic Middle Eastern audiences who expect you to use music and dance style that's familiar to them.
  • You have a passion for Egyptian style and want to package your dance accordingly.
  • You're looking for music with a heavily historic sound played on very ethnic instruments such as rebaba, mizmar, oud, and kanoun.



What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked:

  • The original music provides a pleasant change of pace from traditional Middle Eastern sounds, especially when used in events such as belly dance festivals or seminar shows that feature performances by a large number of dancers.
  • The solid drumming based on Middle Eastern rhythms provides the Middle Eastern flavor to support Oriental dance.
  • The melodies and instruments are likely to sound pleasant to Western ears, so this music could be a nice choice for Western audiences in theatrical settings and other fusion-friendly environments.
  • The music was composed explicitly for use with Oriental dance, so even though there's a strong New World influence it still works well with this dance form.

What I Didn't Like:

  • Some of the songs are a bit long (over 4 minutes), which limits how they can be used. (Cutting music can be difficult to get right.)




This music is best suited to fusion performances. Although it uses some Middle Eastern rhythms, its general style is definitely New World in character. The music is danceable, and the track lengths generally work for most performance constraints.




I have performed once to music played live by Light Rain, and I found Doug Adams and his ensemble to be a wonderfully dancer-friendly band to work with. I truly felt that they were partnering with me to create the best possible performance. I have also attended one workshop taught by Doug's late wife, DeAnn, and found her to be a very effective instructor. I chatted briefly with Doug at his vending table at Rakkasah (a major belly dancing festival in California) in 2002.

Beyond these encounters, I have never had any conversations with Light Rain.



To Buy It

Dark Fire Album Cover

Artist: Light Rain
Album Title: Dark Fire

Doug Adams
P.O. Box 356,
Larkspur, CA 94977


Amazon Store: U.S. Canada U.K.



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