Mohan Veena and Tabla: Soulful Music

Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt & Subhen Chatterji
Friday, April 12, 8PM, Concert Hall, Chamber Seating

Credited for inventing the Mohan Veena (slide guitar,) Grammy Award winner Vishwa Mohan Bhatt is hailed as one of the greatest and most expressive slide guitar players in the world. As the principal disciple of Ravi Shankar, Vishwa plays with blinding speed and faultless legato. Subhen Chatterjee on tabla, studied under the illustrious tabla maestro Swapan Chowdhury.  Today, Subhen is one of the few tabla players that have participated regularly in the WOMAD festival founded by Peter Gabriel and has collaborated with flautist Paul Horn and David Crosby.

$30, $25, $15; FC, GCC, STCC and 17 & under $10

“Vishwa Mohan Bhatt is the king of Slide guitar” Boston Globe

5 Replies to “Mohan Veena and Tabla: Soulful Music”

  1. The sound quality wasn’t great, sounded more like a fuzzy electric guitar, difficult to hear subtleties.
    The first raga he played, maru bihag, was great but then the second half was not very interesting – the audience participation song and then his song, both in western major mode and rather redundant. And all were played in tin-tal (16 beat rhythm cycle). Indian music has so many interesting qualities – different modes and different rhythm cycles – and he just didn’t bring that to his performance.

  2. It was possibly not the best musical performance from Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. But, he made that up by interacting more with the audience. He couldn’t have done both at the same time: played detailed musical exposition which requires intense concentration AND interacted with the audience.

    I guess for the sound stage, since FAC doesn’t have Indian classical music frequently, that might have affected the quality.

    Overall, the music had a soothing quality, and listening live always beats listening on a home system. I came out of the concert more relaxed than I was when going in. The event was a success for me. Thanks for the chai too!

  3. I agree with both of the two earlier comments above. I did not care for his new instrument, as it sounded like a pop-rock electric guitar, and I felt the usual subtleties of this wonderful type of Indian music was lost. I have greatly enjoyed ALL of the earlier Indian veena and tabla concerts that have been offered by the FAC, usually given at Bowker, but this is the first one I have not enjoyed. Involving the audience is not traditionally Indian, and I felt he was just pandering to American popular expectations for some lower form of music, and was not giving us what we expected, which was a high quality Indian classical music concert. And clearly the performers were as annoyed with the poor acoustics/sound control as the audience was. I could hardly hear the tabla, and he was extremely talented. Too bad we missed a lot of what he offered.

  4. I was taken by the unusual form of the instrument, redesigned with an additional gourd and probably sympathetic strings (although I could not see very well), to sound like a sitar. The hybrid form, in which a guitar (or a sitar) is creatively re-imagined, intrigued me. I liked to imagine in its fantastical — somewhat creaturely — presence on stage a reflection of a period of experimentation in the 1960s to which Vishwa Mohan Bhatt’s teacher belonged — a period that, by some accounts, permanently changed the face of North Indian classical music, including the practices of performing and listening. At the very least, it was clear to me that Pandit ji’s invention was motivated by an interest in producing a new kind of sound unheard in the musical tradition, as was true of the very best experiments of that period (including Ravi Shankar’s re-designing of the sitar). Perhaps, it might be instructive to compare the unusual sound (not simply sound quality) of the Mohan Veena with, for instance, Pandit Brijbhushan Kabra’s straight sliding guitar. Here is an excerpt you might enjoy listening for this exercise:

  5. Lovely, soulful music. I wish that I’d been able to actually get close to the instrument to understand better how it worked. But the sounds penetrated my heart.

Comments are closed.