The Troupe
This drummer's journey with other drummers.

Allah is in the Room

The Hayallah is a classic 8/4 rhythm that probably originates in Persia. There is a lot of contemporary speculation about the exact origin of this rhythm, (and well, any rhythm to be honest…) but it is basically agreed that Hayallah was orginally used in Sufi rituals and meditations. You can decide for yourself if that means Persian, Turkish, Kurdish, or what…

The translation of Hayallah is basically, “Allah (God) is in the room”, which certainly lends credence to the idea of it being a mystical, religious rhythm. I find that I can get the feel of it if I simply picture myself in a warm room, with some chanting in the background, and becoming just that dangerously little bit sleepy.

As with so many of the 8/4 rhythms from the Silk Road, the basic Hayallah is almost indistinguishable from the Masmoudi, or the Shiftitelli, in structure. The crucial differences tend to be the feeling in which it is played, and the way it is ornamented.

To me, the key element of Hayallah is on the 7 and on the 8. I prefer them to be entirely unadorned Teks, played crisply.

Imagine being in that warm and slightly sleepy temple/church/mosque/in-laws living room, and that the counts from 1 to 6 are the droning of people speaking, or giving a sermon, or chanting, and you sort of trance out in a hazy way, and then, BAM, you get elbowed sharply in the ribs while your wife hisses, “Wake UP!”

The 7 and the 8 are that “Wake UP!”

As long as you keep those two Teks well spaced, clean, and without adornment, the Hayallah gathers this immense power, and truly fills the room, captivating audiences.

The first 6 counts however, can see a huge amount of variation, and what matters most is that they hold that pulse, with a solid Doum on both the 1 and on the 5.

Here is the “basic” Hayallah, and a few variations.

 

Hayallah (8/4)
Basic (Doom and Tek)

(First Half)

1

&

2

&

3

&

4

&

D

D

T

T

T

(Second Half)

5

&

6

&

7

&

8

&

D

T

D

T

T

T

Again, it is truly powerful if you keep those Teks on the 7 and the 8 simple, clean, and crisp.

Speak the tones and count softly to yourself as you learn this rhythm.
Literally, say, “Doum DoumTekTek Tek DoumTekDoumTek Tek Tek”. It helps!

 

Hayallah Variation (8/4)
Ornamentaion (Doom, Tek, and Ka)

(First Half)

1

&

2

&

3

&

4

&

D

T

K

D

D

T

K

D

(Second Half)

5

&

6

&

7

&

8

&

D

T

T

That long rest between the 5 and the 7 is very compelling, but is tricky. Especially after all that excitement from counts 1 to 5. As with so many rhythms, there is great power in being able to play it slowly and deliberately.

Personally, I tend to play a Hayallah somewhere between 72-80 beats per minute. If I want to play a more up tempo 8/4, I will tend to choose a Masmoudi, or Shiftitelli.

 

Hayallah Variation (8/4)
Ornamentation (Doom, Tek and Ka)

(First Half)

1

&

2

&

3

&

4

&

D

K

D

K

(Second Half)

5

&

6

&

7

&

8

&

D

T

T

It can be so much fun to use this incredibly simplified variation as a turn around.
Play a filled variant of Hayallah three times, and on the fourth phrase of Hayallah, break this out.
Be careful to keep that 7 and 8 clean on each phrase, as it acts as the thematic binder.

The power! OH THE POWER!

 

Hayallah Variation (8/4)
Ornamentation (Doom, Tek, and Ka)

(First Half)

1

&

2

&

3

&

4

&

D

K

D

T

T

T

(Second Half)

5

&

6

&

7

&

8

&

D

T

D

T

T

T

I love this variation, because it is so funky, and also because it was so challenging for me to get right.

Basically, since I recognized that the first four counts of Hayallah are an Ayoub in structure (Doum on the 1, Doum on the 2, Tek on the &), I decided to throw an Ayoub feel into those first four counts.

As with all rhythms, the way you play it, and the intention and feeling you play with, is what gives that rhythm power.

Hayallah can be played reverentially, or with a bit of playfulness, and as long as you FEEL that, and keep that 7 and 8 clean, I think you will find Hayallah to be a very useful addition to your bag of drummer tricks.

Enjoy!

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