HaLoH meeting with Debashis Dutta

After a vacation at Mysore, on way back to Hyderabad, our member Ramana halted at Bengaluru for a few hours. He met Mr Debashis Dutta, a popular harmonica player of India at his residence. No wonder, without harmonica session, any harmonica enthusiast's vacation is incomplete. Though it was a working day, Mr Debhasis deferred his official meeting and spent about 3 hours with Ramana on discussing and enjoying harmonica session.

Mr Debashis Dutta, an Aerospace and Materials engineer by profession, is 55 years old. He is based at Bangalore where he had lived and worked for the last 30 years. He did his B.Tech in Metallurgical Engineering from BHU-IT and then followed it up with an M.Tech degree each in Aerospace Engg (IIT-Madras) and Materials Engg (IISc Bangalore). He currently works in a senior engineering position for a US based aerospace MNC in Bangalore. He is a member of harmonica Club of Bangalore.

He is a self-trained mouthorgan player. He got introduced to this instrument when he was about 14/15 years old in high school by his maternal cousin Mr. Satinath Mukherjee who was an accomplished harmonica and piano professional and a contemporary of the great Milon Gupta. His cousin gifted an old Hohner mouth organ to him which he still possesses. What interests him about the instrument is that it is quite versatile, user friendly, a constant companion for every season and every place and produces music that pleases his ears along with everyone else’s ears. Moreover, anyone with an ear for music can learn the instrument on his/her own and give performances.

This is what Mr Debashis Dutta says about his harmonica playing style and preferences: “My playing style is basically single note playing but I do resort to Octave playing depending on the requirement of the song. For that matter I also resort to tongue slapping once in a while depending on whether that style would best suit the particular line of the song in a given situation. I try to get into the emotion or "feel" of the song rather than concentrating too much on accuracy of individual notes, lyrics or grammar. This approach according to me brings out the best from a harmonica or any wind instrument. I prefer playing Indian music, i.e., old meldious Hindi or Bengali songs with beautiful tunes composed by legends like Salil Chowdhury, Pancham Da, SD, Naushad, Madan Mohan etc. I prefer to play Chromatic harmonica of Suzuki and Hohner brands.”

Embedded below is a rendition by Mr Debashis Dutta.


Ajay Vijh and his positive 'VIBRATIONS'

Our harmonica lover of this week is Mr. Ajay Vijh, a regular visitor and follower of this blog. Many harmonica lovers must have listened to his yr 2008 musical album titled 'VIBRATIONS' in which he has played some popular bollywood numbers on the harmonica. He is a civil engineer by profession employed with Northern Coalfields Ltd. at a small town called Singrauli which is situated in the border of UP and MP.

Making of a harmonica lover:

It all started around 30 years ago when Ajay Vijh studying in 8th standard attended a football tournament closing ceremony in his colony and saw a gentleman playing the harmonica during that programme. He liked the sweet sound of harmonica. He was so impressed with the sound that he borrowed a double sided Hero harmonica from one of his friends and tried producing some music on it. He played that harmonica for around 2 years and later stopped because his father had got transferred to another place. Later, he came across one of his friends during his Engineering course who had a Hero single sided tremolo harmonica. He borrowed the harmonica from that friend and started playing it again. Finally, after getting a job, he purchased a Hohner Super Chromonica 270.

Harmonica collection:

After getting placed in a job, Mr Ajay Vijh added many more harmonicas to his collection which includes Hohner 270 in the keys of C, G, D, A, E & B, LARRY ADLER 16, CX-12, and some Hohner diatonic harmonicas. Though he has only Hohner harmonicas, he wishes to have the harmonicas of other make too. Though he feels that the sound of Larry Adler is quite good, he prefers Hohner 270 because its slide can be reversed. He also has a Yamaha keyboard which he plays sometimes.

Favourite harmonica players:

Ajay ji’s ideal harmonica player is Late Milon Gupta. As a student, he used to save some pocket money to buy LPs and cassettes of Milon da and listen to his harmonica renditions. Amongst the current harmonicists, he likes the playing styles of Shri Anupam Pal, Shri Ashok Bhandari also popularly referred to as Big (B)handari, Shri Saikat Mukherji, Dr. Pankaj Bose, Shri Arijit Mukherji, Shri Swarup Mitra etc. He likes the way great music director Late Shri R.D. Burman utilized this little instrument in his music. As of today, he has personally met only one harmonica lover of the above-Shri Anupam Paul face to face. "It was an enriching experience to meet Shri Anupam Pal during my Kolkata visit recently", says Ajay Vijh.

Prefered style:

Ajay ji plays Indian melodies and prefers single note playing on his chromatic harmonica. Off late, he has been practicing tongue slapping too. Nevertheless, he feels that tongue slapping does not sound good if done for the complete song. It should be preferred only at some particular intervals in a song. Sometimes, he also reverses his slide of Hohner 270 to play in C#. He feels that some songs sound beautiful if played in C# especially when one presses the button to get a semitone lower note instead of a semitone high note as in the case of a 'C' harmonica. He advises new harmonica players to first listen to a song for at least 40 to 50 times and hum the tune till it becomes quite familiar before trying to play it on the harmonica. Secondly, he advises to stick to one song and play it completely before attempting another number.

Spreading the love for music:

Ajay ji and some talented music artists started "Orchestra Swar Sangeet" which was re-christened as "Symphony Orchestra" at Singrauli. They perform in and around Singrauli area. Ajay ji also does a bit of anchoring along with harmonica playing. He has also encouraged his 11 yr old son to play the harmonica. One can see his son playing the numbers like 'Pal pal' and 'Jai Ho' on his you tube channel- 'ajayvijh'.

Embedded below is a video made on the popular hindi melody 'Piya tose naina laage re' which was played by Mr Ajay Vijh in his album 'Vibrations'. Hope this piece of music brings positive vibrations within you :)

Harmonica Our Passion!