• Raag Desi •


Desi (not to be confused with Desh) is a diffuse raga lineage, spanning several intertwined variants. Generally prakriti with Kafi, it may also follow the komal dha swara set of Asavari, as well as arriving in double-Dha form (Parrikar also discusses a rare double-Re variant known as ‘Utari Desi / Komal Desi’, likely connected to a lost Todi-ang). Generally focusing on madhya-taar saptak, the raga favours vakra motions such as SPDmP, RgSRnS – with Re and Pa rendered emphatically, and ma often employed ornamentally. While popular amongst khayal vocalists, it remains rare on the instrumental stage, although Ravi Shankar’s interpretations are effective. Also see the related Barwa, Bahaduri Todi, & Lanka Dahan Sarang – as well as an intriguing sequence of Picasso’s animal sketches, seemingly captioned by one of the Senior Dagar Brothers with: “when every swara is tamed in Dhrupad like Picasso did with his bulls…this Desi emerges” (listen to their rendition).

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Aroha: SRmPDmPnS
Avroh: SPDPdmP, RgSRnS

Chalan: e.g. S(g)RgRSR(n)S; (m)RmP; DPdmP(m)gR; RmPDmPS; RgSRnS; RnSP; DPmP; dmPRmP(m)g; Rg(R)SR(S)nS (Bor/Sadolikar)


—Aditya Modak (2020)—

[refrain, e.g. 1:41] R(SRSnS)R, (m)RP (gRg)Rg R(SR)S, (RS)R (g)S\n S(n)SS, RPmP(mP), D(n)PmP (P)mP, (m)Rg (RS)R S(n)S; mm(nP), mP(Sn)S\nP P(m)P, D(n)mP (m)Rg (RS)R S(n)S, RP (gRg)Rg R(SR)S, (RS)R


• Classifiers •

Explore hidden inter-raga connections: swara geometries, melodic features, murchana sets, ragangas, & more (also see the Full Tag List):

Swaras: -4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10+

Sapta: Audav | Shadav | Sampurna

Poorvang: SRGM | SRG | SRM | SGM

Uttarang: PDNS | PDS | PNS | DNS

Varjit: Re | Ga | Ma | Pa | Dha | Ni

Double: rR | gG | mM | dD | nN

Thaat: 10 | 32Enclosed | Inexact

Chal: All-shuddha | All-komal | Ma-tivra

Gaps: Anh. | Hemi. | 3-row | 4-row | 5-row

Symmetries: Mirror | Rotation | Palindr.

Aroha: Audav | Shadav | Sampurna

Avroh: Audav | Shadav | Sampurna

Jati: Equal | Balanced | Av.+1 | Av.+2

Samay: Morning | Aftern. | Eve. | Night

Murchana: Bhup. | Bihag | Bilaw. | Charu.

Raganga: Bhairav | Malhar | Kan. | Todi

Construction: Jod | Mishra | Oddball

Origin: Ancient | Carnatic | Modern

Dominance: Poorvang | Uttarang

Prevalence: A-list | Prachalit | Aprach.


• Prakriti: Kafi thaat, Kafi, Bageshri, Bhimpalasi, Shahana, Dhanashree, Hussaini Kanada, Mudriki Kanada, Raisa Kanada


–Swara Geometries–

Core form: SRgmPDnS
Reverse: SRgmPDnS (=itself)
Negative: 2-3-2-2-3 (e.g. Durga)
Imperfect: 1 (Dha)
Detached: none
Symmetries: mirror (S—M)
Murchanas: Bilawal set

Quirks: ‘palindromic‘ (same intervals forwards & backwards) • maximal‘ (swaras are optimally ‘spread out’)


–Global Translations–

Carnatic: ~Kharaharapriya
Jazz: Dorian
Pitch classes (‘fret-jumps’):

o • o o • o • o • o o • o


• Tanpura: Sa–Pa (+Pa)
• Names: Desi, Deshi, Des, Desi Todi (not Desh)


—Moinuddin & Aminuddin Dagar (1965)—



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George Howlett is a London-based musician, writer, and teacher (guitars, sitar, tabla, & santoor). Above all I seek to enthuse fellow sonic searchers, interconnecting fresh vibrations with the voices, cultures, and passions behind them. See Homepage for more, and hit me up for Lessons!

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