Egyptian Music Essentials: Bint el Sultan

Take a deep dive into with me into "old school" shaabi, from the legendary Ahmed Adaweia, focusing on his classic song!


With each course in this series, we focus on a different famous Arabic song or instrumental piece, and explore it for technique, musicality, cultural context, and performance skills. We'll also look at famous dancer videos for that piece when they are available, for inspiration!

We'll be digging into some Egyptian baladi technique and old-school shaabi this time, with Ahmed Adaweia's hit song "Bint al-Sultan" (daughter of the sultan). I think of this song as a kind of "Uptown Girl" for Cairo, but with the humor-tinged longing of not being able to actually cross that class divide for love. The song expresses Egypt's highly class-stratified society, with a great separation between rich and poor. Adaweia came from a poor background, but made it rich through his amazing singing voice. As it was told to me (by Egyptian music professor Adry Surour), he was initially carrying the music stands at other musicians' gigs, and one day the hired singer didn't show up and he got his first break. Adaweia was the first pop singer in Egypt to sell a million records, and he really popularized Egyptian shaabi music.

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Her wealth of knowledge is uncommon and she delivers her unique message in a variety of ways which make understanding the method abundantly clear.  Ranya’s teaching involves dance movement, body mechanics, and musicality, but extends further to context, history, culture, theatre and comedy.  She is extremely funny. Forever, thank-you, Ranya!


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In this program I explore the cultural and socioeconomic context of this song and Adaweia's career, as well as:

  • how different dancers (Soheir Zaki, Nagua Fouad, and Fifi Abdo) interpreted the songt
  • a thorough break down of the lyrical content of the mawaal and the song itself
  • the role of accordion taqasim vs. the baladi song as how it relates to a song such as "Bint al Sultan" and "Ya Baladi Ya Wad
  • technique breakdown of the jewel step and its various incarnations

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lessons in this program:


Famous Dancer Videos and Lyrics


Basic baladi technique and dance-along for Bint al Sultan


Soheir focus


Nagoua focus


Fifi focus


Lyrics focus: learn the Arabic!


Jewels technique breakdown


Accordion taqasim baladi dance-through


Baladi song dance-through (Ya baladi ya wad)


Discussion forum to ask questions of Ranya and to share and connect with other participants

*Lifetime* access to course videos