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#Musings with Nitin Amin: Raga Todi

Updated: Apr 28, 2022

21 Song Salute to the Great Lata

Todi is a Thaat, a Ragaanga and also a Raga. Such a raga is always profound, as it is used as an example in all three methods of classification.

Before going to the phrases of raga Todi, let’s see the scale , the aroha, the avroha and the Saptak of Todi. The ‘Sa, komal Re, komal ‘Ga’, teevra ‘Ma’ which comes after this is the teevra madhyam, then the ‘Pa’ followed by komal ‘Dha’ and then shuddha nishad and then the ‘Sa’. But these are only the swaras, you will find that it comes closer to raga Todi when we omit the pancham in the aroha, when we look at the phrases in the full video, we will look at the exact relative positions of the swaras.

Todi is a very special combination and has a tremendous potential for expanding. Advanced listeners of Hindustani Classical Music should know that, for any raga the expanding potential is defined or decided by the possibilities of the pairing – the Samvadi combination. Samvadi combinations are the combinations which feel nice to the ears.

The first swara which tries to connect to the ‘Sa’ is komal ‘Dha’. This komal ‘Dha’ has a very special place for Todi. Then we touch the teevra madhyam which is still lower than the ‘Dha’ - ‘Dha Ni Ma Dha’. ‘Sa Dha Dha Ni Ma Dha Ma Dha Sa’ is the beginning of Todi. You will notice that the ‘Ni’ is sparingly used, this is possible but it will normally happen much later in a rendition. And then connection to the ‘Re’ - this ‘Re’ is very very special for Todi.

‘Sa Ni Sa Re Re Re … Dha Re Re’ here the ‘Dha’ is also talking to the ‘Re’ and is a significant part of the raga.

And then the ‘Ga’ connection, the place of ‘Ga’ is also very significant for Todi, ‘Ga’ always comes from the ‘Re’ and so its ‘Sa Re … Ga’. After you have reached the gandhar from ‘Re’ like this, then stay there and then look at the gandhar from above – from madhyam and then again look at it from below – from the Re’.

There is a wonderful thing happening here in the Samvad – the connection possibilities : if we make ‘Dha’ the ‘Sa’, then ‘Sa’ becomes the ‘Ga’. [‘Dha Sa, Sa Ga, Dha Re, Sa Ma, Dha Ga, Sa Pa’] That is, the ‘Dha Sa’, ’Dha Re’ and ‘Dha Ga’ actually sound like ‘Sa Ga’, ‘Sa Ma’ and ‘Sa Pa’ respectively. It is these possibilities and the gandhar, madhyam, pancham combinations that sound very pleasing to the ears - meaning that the ears physiologically accept them as 'harmonic pairs'.

Going further, (like I said in the beginning) we jump to the dhaivat from there. And while coming down, the pancham finds its special place. The code of the raga actually says that pancham can be taken like the way shown in the video and very rarely you will find the artists doing it, but then it (pancham) always comes stuck to the madhyam. And then jump to the ‘Sa’ from the ‘Dha’, again nishad is very subtle here. The dhaivat is the center point of this raga.

Todi is really hard for the flute, and we don’t get to hear Todi a lot on the bansuri. If you have a rendition of Todi on your bansuri we would love to hear it. Please upload it on the RagaForum for other rasiks to experience.

We hope you enjoyed this bandish in Raga Todi.

Watch the full explanation on Youtube: Raga Parichay: Raga Todi

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