Rag Kafi Zila

kafi

From the late 60s, at a time when it was hardly possible to be amazed by the riches of Chinese traditional music, I was devoted to Indian music (which then meant mainly the solo traditions, as it mainly still does in the popular image).

If Heart of Glass reminded me fleetingly, impertinently, of Rag Marwa and Nikhil Banerjee, I still treasure his lyrical rendition of Rag Kafi Zila, which appeared magically on Radio 3 in the 1970s.

It’s an entrancing raga, for the second quarter of the night. Within its basic minor scale with flat 3rd and 7th, it sometimes features the major 3rd degree.

The suave BBC announcer’s introduction (citing Alain Daniélou) remains etched in my heart:

Of shining whiteness,
Kafi, who inspires lust,
tenderly sits on the lap of her playmate in the royal palace.
Fond of parrots,
she is dressed in blue
and decked with jewels.
She is the image of sensuousness.
In the Lotus of my heart
I cherish her,
lovelier than Lakshmi
the goddess of Fortune.

Of course, as with Bach, I’m just reporting my own infatuation, which is merely a product of a particular place, social milieu, and time—far from the responses of indigenous audiences of various types.

Here’s one of several exquisite versions by Banerjee:

Training in Indian sargam solfeggio is a basic grounding in monophonic musics—far from a mere conceptual exercise, it draws us towards the heart of the music.

3 thoughts on “Rag Kafi Zila

  1. What do you think of Jan Garbarek’s Ragas and Sagas? Or John McLaughlin’s work with Indian musicians? John Mayer and Joe Harriot?

    Like

  2. Pingback: In memory of Natasha | Stephen Jones: a blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s