Musings: Morning Coffee with Raag Thodi

N Rajam

A Town in Italy is called Todi, said to have been built in 8th century,  it is famous for a Co-cathedral Church called the Palazzo Dtodi-1el Popolo. But I wish to muse about Raag Thodi today. Like the title suggests it is best listened to in the morning. Why ? Well traditionally it has been stamped as a morning raga. Perhaps during times of no TV or radio or Internet, Kings in Palaces would wake up to the music of Royal Musicians singing Mia Ki Todi. Listen to an excerpt of this raga by the Queen of Hindustani Violin N Rajam and one of my favourites.

Ofcourse, in the booming voice of Bhimsen Joshi here.

Listen here to Bismillah Khan Singing Raag Mia Ki Thodi.. Yes ! Singing normally you see him play the Shehnai. To those reading who dont know what a Shehnai pronounced She-ha-na-yee, is simply an Eastern Trumpet. So you can hear Bismillah Khan saheb singing but his voice like his playing of the Shehnai is unique. I have heard only one other type of male vocal rendition where the voice lends itself to be so flexible and that is in the voices of Nazakath and Salamath Ali two great singers and equally in the South the Great Legends Alathur Bros.

Ragas such as Bhahudari Thodi [ Pa is more pronounced], Gurjari Todi [Pa is Omitted altogether], Chaya Todi [Pa and Ni are dropped] are many varieties like graded versions of the same software that is available to every one these days however producing different results. Yet a variety of Todi’s has been sung by Pandit Jasraj. Visit to read and listen.

In Carnatic Music there is a Raga called Hanumatodi or Jana Todi which is often shortened by every one to ‘Thodi’  and has no resemblance to Mia Ki Todi or Todi of the Hindustani variety. All notes used in Thodi are minor, and sometimes singers skip the Panchamam or 5th note to land on it later, the home coming!! results in a Mmm!!! or an Aaah!! in the audience. I am a great fan of KVN and love his thodi and consider it to be one of the best I have heard so far. When and if I find a good recording may be I will put an excerpt of it into this blog.

When the 5th note is dropped altogether the ragam is called ‘Shuddha Todi" in Carnatic Music.

sudha raghunathan Shuddha Todi contains all the same notes of that of Mia Ki Todi. Whether it produces the same effect ? I shall leave that to your judgment. Listen here to Sudha Ragunathan singing a rare Varnam in this ragam "Sami Ninne".

Some people get so caught up in the "combination of Swaras or notes" that they forget that the essence of any raga is in experiencing it. A mathematical combination of frequencies used can never make a raga complete. I guess that is what makes some musicians geniuses and others merely practitioners.