Monday, January 12, 2009

The Sweet Melancholy…

Most of the songs in this matrix are sad or melancholy. Take a few examples – ‘Milkar judä huye’ (Jagjit-Chitra Singh), ‘Jhoothe nainä bole’ (Asha Bhonsale, Film: Lekin), ‘Mein to ek khwäb hun’ (Mukesh, Film: Himalay Ki God Mein) or that immortal Marathi song from Asha Bhosale ‘Rämä Raghunandanä. Raag Todi, however, does not always project a gloomy mood. There are a few notable exceptions where songs have been full of zest, like ‘Bheeni bheeni bhor äyi’, from the non-film album ‘Dil Padosi Hai’ by RD, Asha and Gulzar.

Todi is one of the ancient melodies from Indian classical tradition and has been sung and played by almost all greats from all traditions. A sunrise raag, Todi employs six notes from the octave and, barring Madhyam (teevra) and Nishäd (flat), all the notes are minor. This also brings in a peculiarity where komal rishabh (minor second note) is extremely minor, almost a quarter note below its normal frequency. This is the perfect example of the use of shrutis in Indian music. Gän-Saraswati Pt. Kishori Amonkar treated us all to a heavenly Todi at an early morning Diwäli concert a few years back. The concert has fortunately been preserved for posterity and is available for your listening pleasure as a 2-part link elsewhere on this page! Do enjoy and post your feedback on how you like the selection.

A number of variants of Todi are in vogue. Miyän-ki-Todi, Gujari Todi, Abiri Todi, Jaywanti Todi have all sprung from Todi matrix and have subtle differences amongst themselves. Bilaskhani Todi, although closer in construction to Raag Bhairavi and Raag Asävari, is also one of the most popular yet difficult to present variant and Biläskhän (Mian Tänsen’s son) has been credited for its creation. A recording by Vijay Koparkar demonstrating shades of differences between Bilaskhani Todi and Bhairavi is available as a link for your listening pleasure. There also are some other interesting combinations of other raags with Todi, for instance Khat-Todi, Bhoopal-Todi, Asävari-Todi. Pt Bheemsen Joshi’s ‘Komal-Rishabh-Asävari-Todi’ has been popular since ages and Todi takes on a very different introspective, even aggressive, mood in his presentation.

Although simple in nature, Todi has always been a challenge to music directors. Accomplished composers like Pt Hridaynath Mangeshkar, Naushad, Sudhir Phadke have given memorable songs in this matrix. ‘Jai jai kartär tori’ from ‘Baiju Bawarä’ testifies to Naushad’s command, while Sudhir Phadke’s magnificent use of chorus in the ‘Geet Rämäyan’ song ‘Thämb Sumantä’ highlights Todi’s intensity in the upper range of the octave. Ghazal-maestro Jagjit Singh also seems to be enamored by Todi’s magic with almost half-dozen compositions in this raag. My personal favourite, however, is ‘Are are Dnyänä zäläsi päwan’ (Miyän-ki-Todi), from Sant Dnyäneshwar’s pen sung by Lata Mangeshkar. The words speak of an enlightened mind after intense introspection, light at the end of the tunnel really! Likewise, let Todi bring us light, both literally and figuratively!

1 comment:

  1. yes! you are right. Todi has that beautiful effect. Love your posts and dedication.