Kafi is a prominent member in the Hindustani pantheon of raags. All notes other than the third and seventh are natural, with the fifth note or pancham and the second note or Rishabh acting as the primary and secondary tonal centres, respectively. The natural varieties of the third or Gandhar and the seventh or Nishad are used occasionally to add colour to the main melodic framework, but this is considered a deviation from the formal structure of the raag. In fact, there are other raags that are closely related to Kafi, which allow for such a usage.
Vocal compositions in this raag have existed in various forms like dhamaar, thumri, dadra and tappa. Similarly, instrumental renditions of Kafi also seem to be more inclined towards interpretations of such compositions.
The first track features surbahar player Pushparaj Koshti accompanied on the pakhawaj by Sanjay Agle. The detailed exposition of the aalaap or introductory part divided into three stages called aalaap, jod and jhala, is marked by a generous use of meend or long glides between notes and elaboration in the lower octave. The deep and sonorous tonal quality of the surbahar lends itself perfectly to such a melodic treatment.
The aalaap is followed by a composition set to dhamaar, a rhythmic cycle of 14 matras or time units.
Noted sarod player Bahadur Khan plays two gats or instrumental compositions in Kafi. Both compositions are set to the 16-matra Teentaal.
At times, he uses some melodic phrasing that is typically used in the tappa form. The presence of the shuddha Gandhar and shuddha Nishad or natural varieties of the third and seventh notes is noticeable. In fact, Khan deviates from the main raag to introduce shades of other raags.
Tabla accompaniment is provided by Anil Bhattacharya.