Debashish Bhattacharya

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Debashish Bhattacharya
Debashish Bhattacharya, 2019.jpg
Background information
Born (1963-01-12) 12 January 1963 (age 58)
Kolkata, India
GenresHindustani classical music
Occupation(s)slide guitarist
Instrumentslap slide guitar
Years active1975–present
Associated actsBrij Bhushan Kabra
Subashish Bhattacharya (brother)
Anandi Bhattacharya (daughter)
Suryadipta Bhattacharya (son)
John McLaughlin
Martin Simpson
Jerry Douglas
Jeff Sipe

Debashish Bhattacharya (Bengali: দেবাশীষ ভট্টাচার্য, Hindi: देवाशीष भट्टाचार्य, Devāśiṣ Bhaṭṭācārya, born 12 January 1963) is an Indian classical musician, singer, composer and educator. He is said to have introduced the first Slide Guitar Syllabus[1] in the world. Bhattacharya redefined Indian classical music on slide guitar through the introduction of a new playing technique and sound, as well as a blending of traditional and uniquely contemporary approaches in designing his music. A music producer who plays lap slide guitar, he has taught more than a thousand students, created a new genre (Hindustani Slide Guitar), designed his own instruments (including the Chaturangui, Anandi and Gandharvi)[2] and performed in more than two thousand concerts and workshops, with Grammy nominations and several world music awards.[3][4] His latest guitar creation, the Pushpa Veena, is perhaps the first slide instrument in the world with a top made of animal skin.[5] For Hindustani Raag music he has composed three new Raag, set to evening time: "Raag Palāsh Priyā," "Raag Shankar Dhwani" and "Raag Chandra Mālikā".

Early life[edit]

Bhattacharya was born into a musical family in Kolkata, and his skill became apparent at a young age. His parents, both traditional Indian vocalists, gave him a basic understanding of music. He first began strumming a guitar when he was 3 years old, when his father gave him a full-size Hawaiian lap steel guitar. He made his debut at the age of 4, on All India Radio in Calcutta.[6]

At age 15, he designed his first Chaturangui and created a genre called Hindustani Slide Guitar.[7]

When he was 20, he was awarded the President of India Award for winning All India Radio's national music competition. At 21, he went to study for ten years under Indian slide-guitar pioneer Brij Bhushan Kabra.[8]

His contemporary compositions began atracting the notice of musicians and music lovers. In 1993, he started performing extensively across the globe.[9] During 2000-2001, he performed with the Remember Shakti band of John McLaughlin, alongside other members Zakir Hussain and U. Srinivas, and was featured on the live album from that tour: Remember Shakti – Saturday Night in Bombay. In 2001, he developed his second slide-guitar design, the 14-string Gandharvi.[10] In 2002, he created a type of slide guitar called the Anandi, a blend of ukulele and mandolin named after his daughter.[11]


Bhattacharya's originality as a musician has earned him global admiration,[12] and he has performed on television and radio networks all over the world, placing slide guitar and Indian classical music in the spotlight.

He invented his own slide guitars, unique to his compositions, which he calls the "Trinity of Guitars". These hollow-neck instruments are the 24-string Chaturangui; the 14-string Gandharvi; and the Anandi, a 4-string lap steel ukulele.[13]

Bhattacharya opened a nonprofit School of Universal Music in Kolkata, where he estimates he has taught thousands of students from all over the world the principal universal form of Indian music and specialised guitar techniques.[14]

Among his most popular albums are 2003's Mahima with Bob Brozman and 2005's 3: Calcutta Slide-Guitar, both of which are on Riverboat Records and ranked in the top 10 of the Billboard World Music Charts.[15] He was nominated for a 2009 Grammy Award in the category of Best Traditional World Music Album for Calcutta Chronicles: Indian Slide Guitar Odyssey.[16]

Bhattacharya recorded his first Global Fusion album in 2012, Beyond the Ragasphere, featuring John McLaughlin, Jerry Douglas, and his daughter Anandi Bhattacharya. In 2015, he released Slide Guitar Ragas From Dusk Till Dawn. His hybrid Indian-Hawaiian music album, Hawaii to Calcutta: A Tribute to Tau Moe, was chosen as one of the ten best albums in 2017 by Songlines magazine.[17]

In 2018 he produced his daughter Anandi's first music album, Anandi Joys Abound. Also in 2018, he released Joy! Guru, an improvisational collaboration with Polish jazz musicians Hubert Zemler (drums) and Wojtek Traczyk (double-bass) recorded during a single all-night session. In 2021, Bhattacharya contributed to the Outlaw Ocean Music Project, in which musicians are invited to create works inspired by the book The Outlaw Ocean; his album is called Tormented Souls at Sea.[18]



  1. ^ "School Activities". Battacharya's School of Universal Music. Retrieved 21 November 2021.
  2. ^ Ellis, Andy (8 June 2012). "The Secret World of Hindustani Slide". Premier Guitar.
  3. ^ "Grammy Award Results for Debashish Bhattacharya". Recording Academy Grammy Awards. Retrieved 21 November 2021.
  4. ^ "Awards for World Music '07, Asia/Pacific". BBC Radio 3. Retrieved 21 November 2021.
  5. ^ Banerjee, Meena (12 December 2019). "Sound of change as Pt. Debashish Bhattacharya introduces Pushpa Veena to the world". The Hindu.
  6. ^ Kaur, Amarjot (13 January 2016). "Fusion Fantastic". The Tribune.
  7. ^ Drozdowski, Ted (5 December 2019). "The World's Weirdest Guitar Mods and Builds". Premier Guitar.
  8. ^ Tsioulcas, Anastasia (Summer 2006). "Opposites Attract: Hindustani Slide Master Bhattacharya Melds Tradition with Innovation" (PDF). Sing Out! magazine. 50 (2): 60–64.
  9. ^ Dasgupta, Priyanka (13 January 2018). "Indian classical music on foreign fix". The Times of India.
  10. ^ Priyanka, Dasgupta (28 November 2011). "Sultan Khan saab inspired me to design a guitar: Debashish". E Times.
  11. ^ Khanna, Shailaja (30 October 2019). "Meeting Debashish Bhattacharya, an exponent of the modified slide guitar". The Asian Age.
  12. ^ Green, Thomas (29 April 2016). "10 Questions for Musician Debashish Bhattacharya". The Arts Desk.
  13. ^ Prem Kishore Guitarist Debashish Bhattacharya in LA Archived 19 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine India Post 9 April 2008.
  14. ^ Leveaque, Roger (18 April 2019). "Slide guitar pioneer Bhattacharya opens Indian classical music to new instruments, sounds". Edmonton Journal.
  15. ^ Overdorf, Jason (25 December 2012). "India: Music's new ambassadors". The World.
  16. ^ "Indian musician bags Grammy nom". Rediff. 10 December 2008.
  17. ^ Frost, Jo (1 March 2018). "Songlines Best Albums of 2017". Songlines.
  18. ^ "Debashish Bhattacharya: Tormented Souls at Sea". The Outlaw Ocean Music Project. Retrieved 28 November 2021.


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