Hindustani Slide Guitar
The Beginning of the Pioneering Journey
At the age of 3, Debashish's father placed an old Hawaiian 6-string guitar on his lap and began teaching him Indian ragas. He was encouraged by both mother and father to play classical and folk melodies on this instrument.
His parents would bring him to many musical concerts and gatherings to give little Debashish the opportunity to listen to great masters and legends of Indian music.
At a young age, he became inspired with a strong desire to capture the unique nuances of classical Indian instruments onto his slide guitar. However, he found his own instrument was limited to only a certain range. This sprang into a life long journey full of fascination and devotion in redefining, purifying, deepening and transcending the soundscapes of the slide guitar.
The birth of Chaturangui
When Debashish turned 8 years old, he started to grow restless
with the range of scales and tones of his Hawaiian slide guitar.
When he turned 14 years old, he began envisioning a
new slide instrument
that would expand
the scale range
the tonal variations
His father loved young Debashish's vision and completely supported and encouraged him to create it. He took Debashish to a veteran owner of a guitar making factory and asked if he could help Debashish with the creation of his new slide instrument.
With the love and encouragement of his father and the people from the guitar factory, young Debashish, at only the age of 15, was able to design and create the first prototype 22-strings slide guitar called Chaturangui.
Since childhood, it was a struggle full of challenges for Debashish and his family to survive and sustain themselves. Their family had a legacy of 72 generations of Brahmins, Sanskrit scholars and music teachers.
Debashish's father suffered from a heart attack at an early age and it fell on young Debashish’s shoulders to support and protect his family. They had very little money and he had to find a way to supplement and and sustain everyone.
Debashish sacrificed many comforts in his life to stay devoted only to music. Instead of getting a conventional job working for a company and making a living unrelated to the arts, he was firm with his belief that music is the only way to God.
Since the age of 14, Debashish would go door to door, giving music lessons for only 20 rupees just so his family would have enough food to eat and afford proper medicine and manage rent. His mother devoted her life to music and gave lessons everyday.
For Debashish and his family, music was and continues to be a way of life.
It will challenge to make you grow and blossom in your spirit. Music is what they love and continues to be what they survived on today.
The Calling of His Guru
At age 21, Debashish left Kolkata, leaving everything behind: his family, his home, his school, his job and his popularity in the music network.
He took a 47-hour long train ride carrying nothing but only a set of pajamas, t-shit on his back and his Chaturangui to go live and study with his guruji Pandit Brij Bhushan Kabra in Ahmedabad, Gujrat in West India.
For a decade,
Debashish stayed and lived with his beloved guru from 1983 to 1992.
He recalls spending an average of 18 hours a day with his guruji and devoted the other 6 hours practicing alone, notating music, memorizing scales, patterns, compositions and melodies. Learning music and taking care of his guru was his first priority and he gave little room for his own needs.
A typical day started with learning, practicing and playing music with his guruji from 8am to 5pm. They would take a break and then start again from 8:30pm and would continue all the way to 5am. His gurujii believed in order to grow and nurture the depths of one's musical skills and understanding, it is very importance and necessary to analyze the finest details of music and performances of great legends. This way it can help train one's ears to understand the differences and similarities of each artist.
During Debashish's stay in his guruji's home, he devoted his time only to music and learning and taking care of his guru. He never once questioned his teacher “Why am I doing this?” or “Why must I learn this?” or “What will my future look like?” He surrendered and placed his absolute trust and faith within his guruji, never entertaining any doubts.
Debashish Bhattacharya has been deeply blessed with the most loving gurus in the world.
Late Acharya Gokul Nag
Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty
Late Pandit Brij Bhushan Kabra
Late Swar Samrat Ustad Ali Akbar khan.
His beloved mother: Shreemati Manjushree Bhattacharya
His beloved father: Shree Sunil Kumar Bhattacharya
Among the 50 years of playing guitar, Debashish has mentored and fostered a line of young guitarists and musicians, training more than 1000 students, over 3000 of them are his direct and indirect disciples.
Debashish adapted unique techniques from his traditional classical music background and created the first 16-stages of Slide Guitar Syllabus which is the hallmark of his dedication to his music and creations. Through love and firm discipline, Debashish wants to elevate the Hindustani slide guitar genre and pass on his knowledge and teachings to current and future students.
DEBASHISH BHATTACHARYA FEATURED IN
DEBASHISH BHATTACHARYA AWARDS
2016 Songlines Music Award
2002 Grammy Nominee
2009 Grammy Nominee
BBC Planet Award
Asiatic Society Gold Medal
is honored to have met and collobrated with global legends:
American Dobro Guitarists
& 12 times Grammy winner,
African Kora Legend Ballake Sissoko
Jazz Guitar Legend John McLaughlin
Moroccan Oud legend Driss el Maloumi
American Bluesman Bob Brozman
British Singer Martin Simpson
Australian Rocker John Butler
American Rocker Henry Kaizer
Late Mandoline U.Shrinivas
Pandit Ravi Shankar
Ustad Zakir Hussain
Pandit Yogesh Samsi
And many more amazing world renown musicians and artists that continue to inspire Debashish in his music and work.
"My life was never safe nor secure because I had to please a lot of audiences in foreign places. The audience didn't have any reference of what kind of music I played so it was difficult to sense what was appropriate, how much to share, and if my music was too difficult to grasp or be accepted by others."
After touring for about 3 years,
Debashish felt compelled to created his own guitar-making workshop to share his unique designs and constructions of his slide instruments to the world.
In over 50 years of experience in study and performance, Debashish has pioneered a style of Hindustani slide guitar that is remarkable and unique. Through exhaustive research and experience, he has designed and patented 3 guitars for raga music, which he has named Chaturangui, Gandhravi and Anandi. He has travelled all over India and around the world for more than 35 years representing Raga music and created a nish.