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

Belly Dancing to Fast Drum Solos


By Saqra




First: About Drum Solos Themselves

There is a trend towards faster and faster drum solos, especially in recorded music. Unfortunately many live drummers now think they should be played this way as well. So, what is a dancer to do?

The faster your drum solo music gets, the simpler your performance should be.

When you listen to the drum, you usually hear a two-part cupcake of sound:

  1. A rhythm beneath the drum solo which acts as the cake foundation, and
  2. An accented overlay, or an icing of accents.

If there are two percussionists playing, one will usually hold the rhythm while the other does the accent work. If there is one drummer then the drummer should be alternating repeatedly between accent segments and the underlying rhythm pattern, to re-establish and support the "cake."

The underlying rhythm does not change until it changes completely to a new rhythm, or unless specific rhythm is dropped to go into a strictly roll-based cake underlay.

A good live drummer will keep the accent phrases clear and predictable, and will repeat a phrase four times (or perhaps a longer phrase twice), giving the dancer the ability to predict what will happen.

A bad live drummer will change time signatures randomly or change phrases erratically, usually because they have learned from mimicking recorded music. On recorded music, it is okay for a drummer to do that because a dancer can learn/memorize the recording.




Second: About Dancing to Drum Solos

  • The dancer should focus on dancing to the icing, not to the cake. Listen to the underlying rhythm on your recorded drum solos so you hear the core of what to let go.
  • Now listen to your accent series (icing) over the top of the rhythm.
  • Your icing is made up of short rolls and sharp hits.
  • Rolls sound relatively smooth and call for posing, walking, unaccented shimmies and shimmy overlays, or smooth isolations.
    Sharp accents call for sharp movements like pops, locks, and drops.


A common phrase in a drum solo could sound like (you're going to have to say this out loud):

"Paradiddle paradiddle paradiddle paradiddle paradiddle paradiddle bomp bomp bomp"

Which calls for something like:

smooth smooth smooth smooth smooth smooth sharp sharp sharp


smooooooooth smoooooooooth smooooooooth sharp sharp sharp


smooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooth sharp sharp sharp

If you have had trouble with looking electrified when doing drum solos, give a shot to simplifying what you are dancing to.

Your mileage may vary, but frenetically overdancing drum solos is a very, very common problem.




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About the Author

Saqra (Seattle, Washington, USA) is a powerful dance artist and a master instructor. Her fluidity, grace, and technical skill is highlighted by her friendly demeanor and clear joy of the dance. She did not inherit the diva gene.

Saqra won titles in Belly Dance USA (Oregon), Belly Dancer of the Year (California), Belly Dancer of the Universe (California), Wiggles of the West (Nevada), and many other competitions. She was voted "Best Kept Secret of 2005" and "Instructor of the Year 2008" by readers of Zaghareet Magazine.

Saqra's journey in this dance form began in 1977 and has led her to study with many of the best dancers in the world, including in America, Canada, Turkey and Egypt. Saqra continues to travel and study both in the USA and abroad and prides herself on proper research for anything she teaches. Folklore, fakelore, and stage creativity: all three are valuable, and Saqra clearly presents for each what they actually are. Saqra is constantly expanding her expertise in the traditional ethnic forms of the dance, the modern stage variants, and the continuing evolving fusion techniques, all these areas combined keep her material fresh and current.

Saqra is widely known as an event promoter, musician, music and instructional video producer, and a registered hypnotherapist in the state of Washington. That is enough stuff to start explaining what she has been doing in belly dance since 1977. Visit her at

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California. In the photo, Saqra is holding her Teacher of the Year 2008 Award from Zaghareet Magazine.

Saqra with Award



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