Alap, Jor, Jhalla in Raag Bilaskhani Todi | Abhisek Lahiri | Solo Sarod | Music of India

#darbarfestival | Young sarod player Abhisek Lahiri performs the auspicious Raag Bilaskhani Todi, said to have been composed at Tansen’s funeral by his own son, Bilas Khan.
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0:21 – Alap
7:05 – Jor (with slight rhythmic pulse)
11:15 – Jhalla (with strong rhythmic pulse)

Learn more about the music:

Abhisek Lahiri is a gharana-blending young sarod player, who fuses ideas from the Shahjahanpur, Maihar, and Senia Bangash traditions. Early training under his father Alok Lahiri has led to a successful career, including global tours, participation in Indian cultural delegations, and fusion work with his East Meets Middle East group. Hear more of Abhishek here:
-Malkauns |
-Shree |
-Interview |

The Todi raga family is central to the Hindustani tradition, overflowing with musical ideas not found anywhere else on the planet. Musicologist Rajan Parrikar describes Todi as “the most profound, finespun idea in melodic music…from ecstasy to frolic to pathos to bathos to melancholy – every conceivable human emotion has refracted through the Todi prism.” Many hear an unsettling, existentially anxious mood, while others see it has having “the playfulness of a newborn lying in bed content, smiling and playful”. A Sikh writer considers the raga to “explain things that we may be aware of, but fail to ponder upon”. Suffice to say, it is a versatile, ambiguous raga, to connect with on a deeply personal level.

All Todi ragas are based around the eponymous thaat scale – an angular shape consisting of the swaras SrgMPdNS. There are many variants – Asavari Todi (Komal Rishabh Asavari), Bahaduri Todi, Bilaskhani Todi, Desi Todi, Gujari Todi, and many more – but all centre around core ideas found in the main Raag Todi (also known as Miyan ki Todi, Darbari Todi, and Shuddha Todi). The raga takes a curious vadi-samvadi [king and queen note] pairing of Dha and Ga, and features prominent use of sruti [microtones] – komal Re, Ga, and Dha are tuned a little low, and tivra Ma is strikingly sharp. The ascent can often omit Sa and Pa, instead favouring intimate interactions between Re and Ga to create a distinctive tension.

Bilaskhani Todi is a particularly auspicious Todi family raga. It is said to have been created by Bilas Khan, son of the legendary saint-musician Tansen of Emperor Akbar’s court, who sung Todi at his father’s wake. He found himself so stricken by grief that he mixed up the notes. But his mind was set at rest, as the mourners witnessed his father’s corpse raise one hand in approval of the new melody. Hear more Todi family ragas here:
-Budhaditya Mukherjee (sitar) |
-Indrani Mukherjee (khayal) |
-Abhishek Lahiri (sarod) |

Recorded at Darbar Festival in 2015, on location in Singur, West Bengal:
-Abhisek Lahiri (sarod)

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