Pierre Bensusan

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Pierre Bensusan (born 30 October 1957) is a French-Algerian guitarist. As Sephardic Jews, his family came from Spain, Spanish Morocco and French Algeria. The genre of his acoustic guitar music is often characterized as Celtic, Folk, World music, New Age, or Chamber jazz. He has also published three books of music and tablature. A wide variety of musical styles and influences can be heard in his music. He is most noted for playing in DADGAD tuning.


Born in 1957 in Oran, French Algeria,[1] he moved to Paris with his family when he was four years old. He took up the piano and studied classical music at the age of seven and at the age of eleven, began to teach himself guitar after his father had bought him a steel string acoustic guitar and a class mate taught him a "few chords".[2] He signed the contract for his first album, Près de Paris, when he was just seventeen; it was released one year later, winning him the Grand Prix du Disque at the Montreux Festival. His many influences include Davey Graham, Larry Carlton, Django Reinhardt, Martin Carthy, Nic Jones, Ry Cooder, Big Bill Broonzy, Reverend Gary Davis, Mississippi John Hurt, Doc Watson, Jimi Hendrix, John McLaughlin, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Ralph Towner, Wes Montgomery, Pat Metheny and Paco de Lucía.

Pierre Bensusan's solo acoustic guitar work has featured use of the DADGAD tuning system and electronics such as delays, distortions and volume pedals, which have been largely abandoned on recent tours. He has stated that he became interested in playing in DADGAD because of its "mystical" and "romantic" quality which made him feel like he had gone back to the 16th or 17th century.

He includes scat-singing in his compositions, both pre-composed and improvised. He has collaborated extensively with saxophonist Didier Malherbe, but today his tours are largely solo. He also performed the song "ELM" for the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack Cowboy Bebop No Disc for Yoko Kanno.

In 2001 Bensusan released Intuite, his first new studio recording in eight years and his first totally acoustic one. It won him critical acclaim[citation needed] and was followed up with Altiplanos in 2005. He continues to write and tour, playing occasional gigs with Malherbe, as well as holding guitar workshops and writing guitar books.

In 2006, Bensusan contributed his song "Falafel a Montsegur" to the album project Artists for Charity - Guitarists 4 the Kids, produced by Slang Productions, to assist World Vision Canada in helping underprivileged kids in need.[3]

Composer Michael Hedges wrote a piece for Bensusan. After Hedges' death, Bensusan wrote and recorded the song "So Long Michael" in tribute to Hedges' own playing.


  • Près de Paris (1975)
  • Pierre Bensusan 2 (1977)
  • Musiques (1979)
  • Solilaï (1981)
  • Spices (1988)
  • Wu Wei (1993)
  • Live au New Morning/Live in Paris (with Didier Malherbe) (1997)
  • Intuite (2001)
  • An Evening With International Guitar Night (2004)
  • Altiplanos (2005)
  • Vividly (2010)
  • Encore (2013) (triple album of live recordings)


  • Bensusan, P: The Guitar Book, HAL Leonard Publishing Corporation, 1985 ISBN 0-88188-620-3
  • Bensusan, P: DADGAD Music: Compositions from Spices and Wu Wei, John August Music / Mel Bay Publications, 1996 ISBN 0-7866-1452-8
  • Bensusan, P: The Intuite Guitar Book, DADGAD Music (France), 2003


  1. ^ Kohanov, Linda. "Pierre Bensusan: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-11-27. 
  2. ^ "Pierre Bensusan Interview". Guitarhoo!. Guitarhoo.com. October 22, 2013. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Slang Productions - Guitarists 4 the Kids". Slang Productions. September 11, 2006. Retrieved March 30, 2014. 

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