ROKAYA – Keyboard and Guitar Improvisation |


"Dome of the Rock," by Alix Lee. A rokaya is an Islamic prayer.
“Dome of the Rock,” by Alix Lee, taken from [PublicDomainPictures.Net]; this image is in the public domain.
Muslims have a practice known as “Rokaya,” which is a ceremonial prayer which cleanses a house of unclean spirits. The idea of this practice is highly suggestive to me. It suggests something rather akin to an exorcism, yet less theatrical. It’s more like a center of calm in a person that they find deep within their soul and extends, gently, to their chest, stomach, legs and arms, head, and, finally, their toes and fingers. Consequently, an unshakeable calm saturates their entire body, soul, and spirit. When it does, one utters the rokaya — assertively, powerfully, yet entirely devoid of aggression or impurity.

Demons, who thrive on soul decay, frustration, aggression, and hatred, are only repelled by the pure power expressed by the idea of this rokaya. It is humble and unassuming. When the one who expresses it encounters others, they set their demons are on the run, and that things in their life are set back in proper order. The rokaya has a cleansing, healing, and comforting effect.

Some Notes on “Rokaya”

This piece has of a number of intersecting elements. The tonal center is c#, with an initial suggestion of the minor mode, which, in my opinion, is the darkest key signature. It sounds “black” to me. But, as other instruments are introduced after the slow, simple pointillist opening with the solo piano, the harmonies become much more complex. The piece is modal, rather than tonal. It borrows some jazz and blues technique.

The guitar, and later, the piano, introduces an octatonic mode. There is complex, florid polyphony, polytonality, and polyrhythm that grows naturally from initially simple threads into twisted sinews, dissolving again into nothingness. The piece begins and ends on the same, simple, unassuming C# right above middle C. This particularly suggests, in spite of the complex, passionate journey of the piece, a stable sense of self. This portrays a sense of reassurance of a beneficent constancy and dependability of essence in the face of the darkness.

Some people can drive out demons by simply seeing the truth. The beholder sees your true self. When you encounter the beholder, your demons must leave. The rokaya cleanses your home. It cleanses your soul.

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