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Lesson 2: Learning “Allahoo”

Aim: How are scales used in Indian music?

Summary: Students learn “Allahoo,” understand the scale used in the song, and compose melodies using the sargam, a form of Indian solfège.
Materials: Musical Explorers digital resources
Standards: National 1, 2, 4, 7, 11
Vocabulary: drone, harmonium, sargam, scale, solfège, table

Falu Teaches “Allahoo”

“Allahoo” Demonstration

Indian classical artist Falu teaches her arrangement of the traditional song “Allahoo.”

Sing “Allahoo”

  • Listen to “Allahoo,” Track 23.
  • Learn the chorus to “Allahoo” using Track 24.

“Allahoo”

Text

Chorus:
Allahoo, allahoo, allahoo
Allahoo, allahoo, allahoo.
(x4)

Yeh zameen jab na thi, yeh jahaan jab na tha
Yeh zameen jab na thi, yeh jahaan jab na tha
Chaand suraj na the, aasman jab na tha
Chaand suraj na the, aasman jab na tha

Raaz-e-haq bhi kisi par, ayaan jab
na tha

Raaz-e-haq bhi kisi par, ayaan jab
na tha

Tab na tha kuch yahaan, tab na tha kuch yahaan
Tab na tha kuch yahaan, tab na tha kuch yahaan

Tha magar tu hi tu

(Chorus)
(x2)

Laa ilaahaa teri shaan ya
wahdahoo
Laa ilaahaa teri shaan ya
wahdahoo
Tu khayaal-o-tajassus tu he aarzoo
Tu khayaal-o-tajassus tu he aarzoo

Aankh ki roshni dil ki awaaz tu
Aankh ki roshni dil ki awaaz tu
Tha bhi tu! Hai bhi tu! Tha bhi tu! Hai bhi tu!
Tha bhi tu! Hai bhi tu! Tha bhi tu! Hai bhi tu!

Hoga bhi tu hee tu!

(Chorus)

 

Translation

Chorus:
The ultimate power
The ultimate power.
(x4)

When this earth and world did not exist
When this earth and world did not exist
When there was no moon, sun, or sky
When there was no moon, sun, or sky

When the secret of the truth was still
unknown

When the secret of the truth was still
unknown

When there was nothing, when there was nothing
When there was nothing, when there was nothing

There was you

(Chorus)
(x2)

My beloved, you are the splendor you
promised
My beloved, you are the splendor you
promised
You are the curiosity, you are the desire
You are the curiosity, you are the desire

The light of my eyes, the voice of my heart
The light of my eyes, the voice of my heart
You were! You are! You were! You are!
You were! You are! You were! You are!

And will be only you!

(Chorus)

Discover the Sargam Scale

  • Explain that a scale is a set of musical pitches or notes, going up and coming down, that are used to build the melody of a song.
    • Solfège uses the syllables do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, and do to name the steps of the scale.
    • Indian sargam uses sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni, and sa.
  • Compare the major scale to the specific scale used in “Allahoo.”
  • Note that the first five notes are the same for both. Sing them up and down using solfège and then sargam syllables. Practice the sargam syllables until they feel very familiar.
  • Using call and response, experiment by singing different musical phrases using the sargam syllables. For example:
  • If your students are ready, you can add the rest of the scale, including the D-flat for the pitch ni, explaining that this is the one note that is different than the major scale.
  • Explain that Indian musicians improvise using the sargam syllables, making up melodies on the spot. Listen to “Allahoo,” Track 23, where the singers demonstrate this practice.

Explore Instruments from India

  • Using Explore Instruments from India, learn about the harmonium and tabla, two Indian instruments featured in Falu’s band.
  • Listen to “Rabba” and “Allahoo” and see if your students can identify the harmonium and tabla in these songs.
  • In “Allahoo,” the harmonium maintains a drone on the pitch sa, the root of the sargam scale, while also playing the melody. You can have your students experiment with singing that drone as they listen to the song. You will have an opportunity to explore drones further in the Creative Extension below.
Creative Extension

Create Your Own Five-Note Melody with Sargam Syllables

  • Review the five sargam notes from “Allahoo.” Sing them up and down, using the sargam syllables.
  • Explain that you will be writing a new five-note melody as a class, using any or all of the five notes in any order you want. You can repeat notes more than once.
    • Do you want your melody to move by step? By leap?
    • When will it go up, when will it go down, and when will it stay the same?
  • Have the class establish a drone by singing and holding sa. If your students are ready, have half the class sing sa and half sing pa.
  • Explain that a drone is a note or notes continuously sounded throughout the piece.
  • As the class holds the drone, have students sing the melody using the sargam syllables. For an extra challenge, students can ornament their melodies, as they learned in Lesson 1. Divide the class into small groups. Each group can create a melody and then share it with the class.
Literacy Extension

My Mother’s Sari

In My Mother’s Sari by Sandhya Rao, children write an ode to the garment worn by their mothers.

Book cover for "My Mother's Sari" depicting a little girl peeking over a sari

Musical Word Wall

Add the words drone, harmonium, sargam, scale, solfège, and tabla to the Musical Word Wall.

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