Debashish Bhattacharya (India)
Indian music is not just limited to the sitar or the sarod. Debashish Bhattacharya has developed a number of variations of the guitar as we know it by adding more strings and some other extras typical of Indian music. The collaboration of Ry Cooder with the slide guitarist Vishwa Mohan Bhatt in 1993 had already shown that the guitar too occupies an important place in India.
Debashish Bhattacharya has pushed this relationship between the guitar and the sitar a stage further. With his “Mohan veena” (a guitar fitted with additional resonating strings, like the sitar), he has developed a number of variants, each one more impressive than the one before. In his three-part arsenal (“The Trinity of Guitars”) you can find an instrument with no less than twenty-two strings. Debashish Bhattacharya – one of the world’s greatest guitarists according to the magazine Guitar Player – owes his international success to his collaboration with the American virtuoso Bob Brozman. After his association with Brozman, he brought out the album “Calcutta Slide Guitar”, which mixes virtuosity and reflective raga. This album brought him a nomination for a Grammy Award and a flourishing career.
The origins of his instrument may well be western, but Bhattacharya’s instrument is firmly anchored in the pure tradition of classical Indian raga, and yet at the same time he is one of its greatest innovators. He heads his own school of music, which counts some 2000 students. The technique that he has developed involves playing with three finger picks and somewhat resembles the way in which American bluegrass musicians play the five-string banjo. It therefore comes as no surprise that he has played with countless big names of both Indian and western music, including Zakir Hussain and John McLaughlin.