Finding the Raga by Amit Chaudhuri

Oliver Craske at The Guardian:

For decades now, the novelist Amit Chaudhuri has begun each morning by singing the Indian classical raga “Todi”. It boasts a scale utterly alien to western music’s majors, minors and modes, and its emotional effect varies: for many people this raga, or melody form, evokes a sad beauty, while for others it is playful or unsettling. Chaudhuri spends an hour working through the same sequence of slow, medium and fast compositions every day, yet he never tires of them. Each time Todi unfolds differently, for this is a musical form of fractal-like complexity, that allows for endless explorations and improvisations within each raga’s framework.

If that sounds like a daunting way to start the day, bear in mind that this is a genre as incomprehensible to most Indians as it is to most Europeans. In childhood, if Chaudhuri heard someone singing it he would respond with parody or dismissal.

more here.