Ry Cooder & Vishwa Mohan Bhatt: the unlikely fusion of two guitar greats
Ry Cooder and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt
A Meeting by the River—is one of the most striking cross-cultural works of the 1990s which brought Grammy Awards for Best World Music Album to renowned guitarists Ry Cooder & Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. The four-track album was recorded as improvisation since both musicians had first met just an hour before the recording session.
The idea of joining two musical traditions through a slide technique belonged to Ry Cooder who was very impressed to hear the Indian classical repertoire performed by Vishwa Mohan Bhatt on the Mohan veena—a unique instrument of his own design.
A representative of the oldest musical dynasty in India and a student of legendary sitarist Ravi Shankar, V. M. Bhatt developed his Mohan veena by modifying the archtop guitar with sympathetic strings in a manner of Indian classical instruments such as sitar, sarod, and veena. Unlike India’s traditional simple-finger performing technique, Bhatt used a metal slide to play both his own compositions and classical ragas.
Listen to A Meeting by the River by Ry Cooder & V.M. Bhatt:
Being one of the most fruitful musicians who combined various folk styles of world music, Cooder developed an impeccable bottleneck guitar technique, first introduced by the legendary generation of Delta Blues musicians in the early 20th century. On A Meeting by the River, he opens the Ganges Delta Blues with a distinctive slide movement in a typical blues harmony supported by Bhatt in an extremely unusual way, thus creating a surprising yet very natural mix of musical modes.
Listen to Ganges Delta Blues by Ry Cooder & V.M. Bhatt:
Accompanied only by light percussion and traditional Indian tabla drums, the guitar album creates a vivid image of the blues legends of the 1920s improvising not close to the Mississippi River but in the Ganga Delta, enriching their music with the harmonies of classical ragas and tala rhythms.