Tsiftetelli, çiftetelli & chiftetelli

Posted by +Bellydancingbarbie on November 30th, 2012

The names Tsiftetelli, çiftetelli and chiftetelli can all refer to the same rhythm. Translated from Turkish Çiftetelli means “double stringed” which may be derived from the accompaniment of a 2 stringed instrument, strings being tuned an octave apart. Traditionally the rhythm is characterised by a pattern of 2/4, long drawn-out beats often left unfilled but more increasingly filled with a flourish.


The Chiftetelli was originally a deeply sorrowful rhythm but has shifted in more recent years to express joy and a modern pop style Chiftetelli is growing in popularity in Turkey and Greece.

This rhythm has an interesting relationship in the history of both Turkey & Greece and indeed throughout the whole Ottoman Empire.

In Greece today Bellydance is often referred to by the word Tsifteteli and Greek Bellydance also takes some influence from the lively Turkish folk dance called Ciftetelli. This refers to the dance and not the rhythm. Modern Greek Tsifteteli (Bellydance) uses 3 different rhythms – Maqsoum 4/4, Ayoup 2/4 and Taksim 8/4 and in Greece, just as in the UK and US, Turkish and Egyptian bellydance is also taught, to either the corresponding music or to the ancient chiftitelli rhythm…

…There are also referencing crossed wires for musicians. Some drummers call the ciftitelli rhythm taaqasiim because it’s sometimes played as a base for an improvisational melody and this sounds like the Arabic word taqsim which means split and often refers to a maqsoum which is a different rhythm.

So you can see where the confusion comes in for people! These rhythms and dances weren’t recorded for preservation until very recently, instead they were passed on simply through observance, play and practice which of course then leads to the merging and crossover of description…

..but what’s in a name? What matters is what something is, not what it’s called. What’s really important is that we continue to observe, drum & dance!

We’ve been enjoying studying this rhythm in BellyDance class, looking at its history and origins, accompanying bellydance style and the specific moves used in Greek Bellydancing…

Next term we’ll be creating choreography sequences to the Çiftetelli before leaving ancient styling and moving bang up to date to take a closer look at a very modern style… Tribal Fusion Bellydance!

To join us in BellyDance class next term book your space  HERE

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