The sound of singing mingled with the Indian slide guitar and the tabla at the Museum of Making Music on Sunday on November 4, 2012. Indian slide guitarist and designer Debashish Bhattacharya aims to bring audiences to a place where they can focus on music as intensely as he focuses while he plays. This focus on music, on the present moment, can bring a feeling of peace akin to intoxication. In that moment, wine is no longer required. Music is enough.
This is the focus of their tour and the title of their latest album. Debashish is joined on the Madeira tour by his brother, percussionist Subhasis Bhattacharjee, and his daughter, vocalist Anandi Bhattacharya. Together they shared the rich tradition of Indian classical music with a mesmerized audience. Their set included traditional songs and several of Debashish’s original compositions.
The trio opened with Anandi and Debashish exploring the traditional melodic construct of the song, called the raga. The song began with a fluid, ornamented melody. As a steady rhythm began to develop, Subhasis added percussion using hand drums, the tabla. This gradual layering of texture and rhythm is part of the Indian classical tradition. Listeners are drawn into deeper sonic focus as the layers and pulse of the music increase.
One piece, composed by Bhattacharya, described the colors of the evening sky. Debashish used his original slide guitar design, the Chaturangui guitar to explore the raga. The sound of the 24-string Chaturangui is reminiscent of the sitar because of its sustain and mellow tone quality. Later Bhattacharya played another, smaller guitar that he also designed.
Anandi sang a song that expressed the longing of someone who is asking his or her departing lover to stay. She displayed amazing vocal flexibility and technical ability as she repeated, note-for-note, the melodies that Debashish played on his guitar.
The evening was a musically intoxicating experience. At the start of the evening, Debashish and Anandi Bhattacharya described their desire to give peace to audiences through their music. Peace could be heard in the sound of Anandi’s voice, through the guitar of Debashish, and through the percussion of Subhasis Bhattacharjee.
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