Grammy Award winner Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt has done it again.
Two decades ago, the maestro created the Mohan Veena by redesigning the Western guitar -- changing its shape and adding more strings to it. With that, he not only went on to become an international celebrity wining laurels, but also got his instrument recognised by his peers at home who were initially were not ready to accept it as an Indian instrument.
He blended the sound quality of Veena, Sitar and Sarod into the Mohan Veena.
Now he has created another instrument called Vishwa Veena.
This time the master of fusion has fused his Mohan Veena with the European string instrument Harp to create Vishwa Veena.
Bhatt, who is one of John Harrison's (member of the former Beatles group) favourite artistes, and whose album Meeting By The River finds a prominent place in Madonna's music racks, spoke to rediff.com about his new creation at his residence in Jaipur:
What led to the creation of the Vishwa Veena?
A true devotee of music is never satisfied with his achievements. He always strives to perfect his art.
When he reaches the top, he has to find greater heights to achieve. Otherwise his whole existence would become stale.
I have been doing this in my music. Indian classical music is such a big ocean, that there is always something to explore. That is why I turned toward fusion music. After fusing the music of different cultures, I tried to fuse two instruments to create Vishwa Veena. It is worth an effort to enhance listening pleasure of the audience.
How different is the Vishwa Veena from Mohan Veena?
The Vishwa Veena is a combination of Mohan Veena and the Harp.
The Harp adds a dreamy note to the sound. Its shape is completely different than Mohan Veena and has got more strings. You may call it an extension of Mohan Veena to suit different moods of music.
How many strings you have added to the new instrument ?
I have added 14 strings. Mohan Veena has 20 strings whereas the new instrument has 34 strings.
Don't you think by adding more strings to the instrument you have made it more complicated and difficult to play ?
Yes, tuning of the new instrument is rather difficult because it takes quite a long time in tuning each and every string before playing it. But once it is finely tuned, it is a pleasure playing it.
How much time it took to create the Vishwa Veena?
It took almost a year to finish the final product. Mohan Veena had taken longer.
This time, of course, my past experience helped me. Unlike trial and error experimentation of Mohan Veena days, this time I knew what I was doing and achieved quickly what I wanted.
I was fascinated by the sound of Harp and thought if it is added to Veena, the new instrument would create a new kind of sound while playing Indian ragas. I am happy that I have achieved it. Mohan Veena produces a robust sound which is very pushing. The fusion of Harp into it gives a soothing effect to the listeners.
Is the playing technique also different for the new instrument ?
No, it's the same as that of Mohan Veena.
Will you discontinue using the Mohan Veena, now that you have invented a more advanced instrument?
Of course not! I shall play both the instruments to give different colours to my music.
Which instrument would you rate better: Mohan Veena or the Vishwa Veena?
It's like asking which of my two sons do I love better. Both are dear to my heart.
When are you launching your new instrument ?
I have already started playing it in my concerts.
Recently in my concert in Delhi, I played it for about ten minutes before my main performance on Mohan Veena. I got a tremendous response from the audience.
I will like to add here that the new instrument can be played solo as well as an accompaniment to vocal singing.
When will the Vishwa Veena be available in the market?
It will be available in the market soon. A Delhi firm Rikhi Ram & Sons has agreed to manufacture it.
How is Mohan Veena faring in the market?
You will be surprised to know that the Mohan Veena has a sale that is eight times the sale of the Sitar or Sarod!
Do you expect the same response for the new instrument ?
I do not expect anything. It is all in god's hand. I created it for my own satisfaction. To satisfy my urge of doing something new.
Are your sons also inclined to play the new instrument ?
I have never imposed my will on my sons.
My elder son Salil has already started establishing himself as a fine Mohan Veena player, winning kudos from great masters. My younger son Saurabh is chalking out a different path of being a music director.
He made his mark with his very first album Kaisa Yeh Jadoo last year and is now busy in scoring music for several Tele-serials on different channels.
So what are you expecting from your new creation ?
Nothing. I believe in having dreams and making innovations both in my rendition of music and creation of an instrument.
That is enough.