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Customer Reviews

Romantic evening

Vishwa Mohan Bhatt has risen to become one of his generation's foremost cultural ambassadors for Indian arts. One of the most celebrated shishyas (disciples) of the sitarist Ravi Shankar, he was born in Jaipur in Rajasthan in July 1952, the younger brother of Shashi Mohan Bhatt (1930 ? -1997), one of the first three students to study with Shankar circa 1949/50 and the father of the sitarist Krishna Mohan Bhatt. Much of his formative musical education came from the family. His father Manmohan Bhatt taught and as a boy Visha Mohan Bhatt soaked up his father's singing, compositions and ragas. Music did not initially figure as Bhatt's career path. He plumped for the security of the Indian civil service. Concurrently he studied sitar and violin. Kismet intervened around 1967 when a German student left behind a Spanish guitar at his father's music school in Jaipur. Bhatt claimed it as his and set about remodelling it. After experimenting with the instrument's structure, left and right hand techniques, various objects to produce the slide sound and strings, he and, in time, a handful of trusted instrument builders evolved a highly modified instrument that managed to capture the sound in his head. The 'Mohan vina' was born. He named the instrument that emerged after himself and vina or veena, the generic Sanskrit word for a stringed instrument. The Mohan vina sounds superficially like a Western slide guitar and is played with sitar mizrabs (wire picks) and a thumb pick and a polished steel rod for the slide. However, the combination of melody, drone and sympathetic strings and Bhatt's microtonal approach to melody place it firmly in an Indian cosmos. Although he had begun a domestic recording career as early as 1970 and had toured and recorded with his guru abroad (including Shankar's ambitious Inside The Kremlin (1989), his major international breakthrough came with Ry Cooder through Water Lily Acoustics, a Santa Barbara, California-based audiophile label. Meeting By The River earned its creators a Grammy apiece. Winning the Grammy transformed Bhatt's fortunes and status, much like Oscars invigorate actors' careers. Moreover, his domestic profile skyrocketed. The wit of his playing on Maru Bihag is stupendous. His alap - the first movement of a raga exposition in which, note by note, principal soloists introduce the listener to the raga and their intentions - is an unhurried revelation of this mixed midnight raga's character. Already by halfway through the alap, notes are whirling off into the night air like spectral moths trying for the moon. The next movement, the jod or jor, brings with it unmetered rhythm. It is a pleasure to have such a detailed and delectable jor, so frequently an undervalued contribution to the savouring of a raga. The arrival of Ramkumar Mishra's tabla announces that the first of two gats. Gats are the fixed musical figures that underpin instrumental music on which the melodist builds and improvises. The first is set in vilambit laya (slow tempo) - natural given their later designs - in the Hindustani workhorse of a taal (rhythm cycle) called teental (its 16 beat cycle breaking down as 4+4+4+4). The second, concluding gat, likewise set in teental, begins in madhya laya (medium tempo) before finishing as a full-tilt, drut (fast), crowd-pleasing flourish. A world-class musician has delivered again. Notes: Ken Hunt


Born: July 27, 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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Top Albums and Songs by Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt

Samadhi, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt
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