...Ira Landgarten

Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt was born in 1952, of a musician family of Jaipur in Rajasthan. He received his initial training from his older brother Shashi Mohan, and is now a disciple of Ravi Shankar. He has modified his guitar by adding several chikari (drone strings tuned to the tonic), and eight sympathetic strings tuned to the scale of the raga being played, which ring out in the background when their note is struck on the main strings. This hybrid instrument, which Vishwa calls the Mohan Veena, is played like a Hawaiian slide guitar, and is ideally suited for the sustained, sliding notes of vocal style Indian classical music.

Sukhvindar Singh, from Ludhiana in the Punjab, is one of today's leading young tabla players. Learning first to play the pakhawaj (the large double headed drum used to accompany Dhrupad vocal music) under Nihal Singh, he received a thorough training in the Banares tradition from his guru Kishan Maharaj.

Rag Bihag is an important evening raga. The rasa (mood) is romantic combined with pathos, as in longing for one's lover. Basically following a major scale, it omits the second, third and sixth while ascending, and goes through both a natural and augmented fourth: S m G M P N S, S N D P M G m G R S (C F E F# G B C, C B A G F# E F E D C). There is an andolan (slow vibrato between microtones) on the sharp fourth, and the second, used only in descent to the tonic, is soft. The heart of the rag is the phrase P M G m G (G F# E F E). Vadi and samvadi (most important) notes are the third and seventh.

Rag Desh is a rainy season rag, and played in the evening at other times. Mood is pathos and joy. Its ascending/descending stucture goes: N S R m P N S, R S n D P D m G R G N S. (B C D F G B C, D C Bb A G A F E D E B C). Vadi and samvadi are the second and fifth.

About Raga Records: After legendary sitarist Nikhil Banerjee died in 1986, we were concerned that his recordings were virtually unobtainable here in the United States, and that such recordings as existed were mainly from the studio, giving an inadequate picture of the breadth of his live concert performances. Knowing of the existence of some archival live concert master tapes, we set about to rectify the situation, by making available both the Banerjee legacy, and live recordings of fine artists like Vishwa Mohan Bhatt who deserve recognition in the West.

Credits: Special thanks to Dr Balwant Dixit, who arranged Vishwa's tour, and provided Raga Records with the master tape. Recorded in Frick Fine Arts Auditorium, University of Pittsburgh on April 14, 1989 by RST Recording, Pittsburgh. Engineer: Raymond Chick. Neumann KM84 microphones. The original DAT recording was mixed direct to hard disc and remained in the digital domain thereafter. No equalization was needed. Audiofile Engineer: Andy Green. Digital studio facilities provided by National Video Industries (NVI), New York. Photos by Associate Producer Ira Landgarten. Produced by John Wilton.

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