The Troupe
This drummer's journey with other drummers.

Dec
25

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!

Dec
19

I firmly believe that the stage is a sacred space, where artists share their emotions, their passion, their work, and their very humanity with the audience, and strive for connection, acceptance, and understanding.

Our “Western Culture” hates those who are “not normal”, so every artist (EVERY artist) has had to deal with the shame of being “different”.

“No one cares.”, “No one wants to see that”, “You will look stupid and be embarrassed”, and “YOU? An artist? HA!” are my personal favorites, but we all hear them all.

What I hear is that I am too fat, old, bald, and white to be a drummer playing “That belly dance music”.

And, honestly, most of that is true.

I am fat. I am old. I am bald. I am white.

And I have been made ashamed of all of that, more than I can express. I have been attacked, before, during, and after my performances, from outright in my face insults, to threatening emails, or snide comments that they thought I was too far away to hear. (“Luckily” for me, my dumbo ears hear everything… Joy…)

And I am certain, because I have heard it all, that EVERY artist reading this right now has experienced their own variations of that. I am certain that we could all get together and compose a “Symphony of Haters” that would make playgrounds and locker rooms seem like quiet churches.

“She’s too old.” (Short, tall, fat, thin, young, black, white, striped…)
“How could she wear THAT?”
“Has he ever taken a lesson?”
“Someone should tell them how embarrassing this is…”

Sound familiar? Of course it does.

Haters are going to hate.

Those that cannot understand a thing, fear it. And fear is most easily converted into hatred, and hatred is the easiest response in the world. I mean, all of us have been the victims of it, and know intimately how it sounds, and we can all turn on a dime and dish it out, right back. Easy, simple. Just a small shout out from the back… Just an anonymous comment on YouTube. Just a snide remark to a friend… Just a harmless bit of shaming in a private group…Just a little more hate, to ease the fear.

Haters are going to hate.

Please don’t let that stop you from being the artist that you are.

The chances of you being here, in any form at all, are so vastly remote that all of this life can and should be viewed as a stunning miracle of beauty.

YOU are a stunning miracle of beauty, and by stepping on that stage and following your passion and joy you MAKE THE WORLD BETTER, despite those who would attack you. Those who would try to belittle you, put you in a place where they feel safer, shelve you and ignore you while you slowly die on the inside, consumed by fear, shame, and embarrassment.

By stepping onto that stage, you win.

I know how hard it can be, but please don’t give up.  Don’t let the fear and hatred of a few destroy your joy. Don’t allow them to stop you from sharing your magnificent and amazing self.

Please dance, or sing, or drum, or recite poems, or act, or all of that! Get yourself out there, and share your beauty. It matters. You matter. This community LOVES you, and those that hate can get together and go bowling, or knit socks with no toes, or whatever they do when they are out of my earshot…

Perform for those who GET IT, and ignore those who don’t.

And I know, I know, how painful the shame can be. The not fitting in, the not being “as beautiful, as perfect” can be a crippling fear.

As an artist you must work as hard as you can, as often as you can, for the joy of the work and the art, and then SHARE THAT.

You are wonderful, you are beautiful, your art touches me, and I am grateful for it.

Thank you.

Dec
16

This is a bit strange, and part of the pitfalls about being a hobbyist in one field, and a working artist in another.

The first thing that happens is you find that you need to spend a lot of your time at your work.  In my case, I am happy to say, that work is percussion.

The second thing that happens is you have a series of gigs, rehearsals, practices, classes, tours, and so on that basically cause you to say, “I will spend some time on my hobby tomorrow.”

And, it turns out for those of you who don’t already know this, three and a half years go by where you simply forget to check on that little blog you had been working on.

Sorry about that.

So, what woke me up was basically a student of mine asking, “Hey, have you seen that blog by Threewinds about drumming?”

I chuckled and said, “Sure.  That is the blog I used to fiddle around with.”

There was a silence in my classroom.  A really hushed and almost sullen pause.  Almost horror movie creepy, honestly.

And then, a cacophony of, “I love that blog!”,  and, “That is why I am taking classes!”, and, “WHY DID YOU STOP?!?”

And it was my turn to have that moment of uncomfortable silence.

Well, you see, I made this album, and got really, REALLY busy with drumming, and one thing lead to another and… and… and…

So I looked it up, to see what was going on with it, and to revisit the articles.

And I was stunned to find that, during the three and a half years I put it on the eshelf to collect edust, 45,000+ people have visited it, read the articles, and apparently enjoyed it.

I had a backlog of 600 comments, and only about half were spam.

Um…  WOW.

In my wildest dreams it simply never occurred to me that it would be seen by ANYONE, at all.

But then my wife, partner, and friend said, “You are reaching more people with that blog than you ever can in your classes.  The world needs more drummers, right?”

So, to all those who subscribed (holy cats, people subscribed!), to all those who check in from time to time, I must sincerely and humbly apologize.

I will actually make time, I will try to put up at least a post a week, and I will be FAR more diligent answering comments and questions.

The short answers are:

Yes, I am still drumming.

Yes, there is an album.

Yes, I will be posting more about rhythms, drums, history, and performing.

And yes, THANK YOU to all who have read these posts, and to all who have come back despite the neglect of the author.

Jun
21

In short, we are now busy in pre-production and fund raising for our first album.

Please, take a look at the Kickstarter link.

Any and all support is greatly appreciated, even if that support is simply passing the word, and wishing us the best of luck.

The Link:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/charlesofthetwisted/the-drummers-of-twisted-gypsy-our-first-album

Apr
03

Every so often I go on a journey, and search for Chobi.

Chobi is a rhythm, often spoken of, and almost never agreed upon by any two sources.  There seem to be almost as many “real” Chobi as there are drummers. And, there are perfectly natural reasons for that.

To the best of my knowledge, Chobi means something like, “The color of wood” in Farsi.  From that, there is a style of rug or carpet, that was apparently named after the colors of the natural dyes used for that rug.  The dyeing technique resulted in a chobi color, and soon the rugs were called Chobi.

This leads us to the dance called Chobi.  I presume that the dancing occurred often on the Chobi rugs, and the name rubbed off, much like the color onto the dancers’ feet.  That, of course, leads to the name of the rhythm (or rhythms) that were popular at those dances.

Now, all of that makes complete sense.  It happens a lot, in many cultures.  The Tango, Waltz, Debke, and so on are both dances and rhythms.  And, from time to time the dance and the rhythm split up, or the rhythm is played so well by a certain family of musicians that the name changes, or a class of people, or a region, or a nation. The Ghawazee and Nawari are good examples of this.

There is nothing too crazy in a the idea that a rhythm happens to be named, “the color of wood”.

So, why am I compelled from time to time to try (fruitlessly, but still undaunted) to find a hidden history?  Why am I hoping that maybe a “Chobi” is an ancient tribe of musicians, or a long lost nation in the Upper Egypt?

I suppose that it is one of the many, many reasons I love drumming so much.

Drumming is history, as told through community, music, and dance.

Here are a few Chobi to get you through the day.   These are not the “right” ones, simply the ones I have found and heard.

 

Chobi (4/4)

Basic (Doom and Tek)

Simple Count

1

&

2

&

3

&

4

&

D

D

D

T

T

T

This is played at a lot of community dances, wedding parties, restaurants, and so on. If there was such a thing as a “typical” Chobi, this would be it.

 

Chobi (4/4)

Basic (Doom and Tek)

Simple Count

1

&

2

&

3

&

4

&

D

D

D

T

T

This is the simplest version I have heard. Basically a Beledi, with the Doum and Tek at the “& 3” reversed. Nice and clean, and a good change up to the Beledi, or Maqsum.

 

Chobi (4/4)

Basic (Doom and Tek)

Simple Count

1

&

2

&

3

&

4

&

D

D

D

T

D

T

T

Played correctly, this gets everyone up and dancing. Babies wiggle, the old folks wink at each other, and good things start happening. This is my favorite of the variations I have heard. Broken down to its basic components it is a Triple Doum Beledi, but the feeling is slightly different.  Beledi seems like it is waiting for you to start dancing.  This variant of Chobi isn’t waiting for anyone.

 

Chobi (4/4)

Basic (Doom and Tek)

Simple Count

1

&

2

&

3

&

4

&

D

D

D

D

T

T

T

Popular for belly dance solos, with lots of flourishes at the end.