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Album Review

Vishwa Mohan Bhatt created a stir when Western audiences first heard his Mohan Veenaa, a hybrid instrument he invented that is a 19-string modified archtop guitar with three melody strings, four drone strings, and 12 sympathetic strings. It crosses the tonal and harmonic capabilities of a Hawaiian guitar with indigenous, traditional string instruments the sitar, the sarangi, and of course, the veena. This CD was recorded live in duet with tabla master Sandeep Das at the 2001 Satpak Festival, a week-long celebration of East Indian culture. The three ragas here all have their roots in folk music, and are recorded in three different rhythms. First there is the multi-tiered "Raag Puriya Dhanashri" in the alap, where the progression moves from very slow to mid-tempo to fast with the melody being supplanted by extended improvisations on its various themes. The final two ragas are actually the same, played at varying tempos in the tintaal rhythm. The first is a languid, mid-tempo which burns where notes and drones work in concert rather than juxtaposition, and the second part of "Raag Sahyam Kalyan" is very fast with the slide in Bhatt's left hand moving through various structural variations on the tune's melody, evoking the very spirit of the Delta blues with the drone strings and the turnaround patterns. The entire proceeding moves from dreamlike languor to intense musical focus and even revelation, as Bhatt consciously puts the two cultures side by side and then weaves them through one another, creating something entirely new in the process.

Biography

Born: 27 July 1952 in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Genre: World

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Vishwa Mohan "V.M." Bhatt is one of India's most innovative musicians. The inventor of the Mohan Veena, a nineteen string modified archtop guitar with three melody strings, four drone strings and twelve sympathetic strings, Bhatt has created a sound that blends the western Hawaiian guitar with sitar, sarod and veena techniques. The first Indian musician to be awarded the "Musical Scientist award" in Banglore, India, Bhatt was praised by "Acoustic Guitar" magazine as "one of the greatest and mosty...
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Indian Delta, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt
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