Obituaries

Bob Brozman, 59, guitarist and expert on world music

Mr. Brozman performed at a guitar marathon in 2004. He played the National steel guitar, often used for the blues.
Richard Termine/New York Times
Mr. Brozman performed at a guitar marathon in 2004. He played the National steel guitar, often used for the blues.

NEW YORK — Bob Brozman, , 59, a guitarist and self-described ‘‘roving guitar anthropologist’’ who collaborated with musicians from Northern Ireland to Guinea to India to Papua New Guinea, died April 23 at home in Santa Cruz, Calif.

The cause was suicide, said Mike Pruger, the coroner’s deputy in Santa Cruz County.

Mr. Brozman’s music was rooted in the blues, but the open tunings, syncopations, and microtonal inflections of the blues inspired him to soak up styles worldwide.

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He was a traveler and collector who learned to play many other stringed instruments, from the Andean charango to the Greek baglama. He visited musicians around the world at their homes, studying with them and collaborating with them on recordings that brought new twists to traditional styles. He was especially fond of island cultures where, he told Songlines magazine, ‘‘musical instruments and ideas are left behind without much instruction and then left to percolate in isolation.’’

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His main instrument was the National steel guitar: a gleaming Art Deco-style instrument with a broad dynamic range, often played with a slide and associated with deep blues. He wrote a book, ‘‘The History and Artistry of National Resonator Instruments,’’ and designed a lower-pitched guitar, the Baritone Tricone (with three cone-shaped resonators), for the company, which is now National Reso-Phonic Guitars.

He recorded dozens of albums, including solo projects and collaborations with musicians such as the Hawaiian slack-key guitarist Ledward Kaapana, the Indian slide guitarist Debashish Bhattacharya, the Guinean kora player Djeli Moussa Diawara, the Okinawan sanshin player and singer Takashi Hirayasu, and the accordionist Rene Lacaille from the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean.

He also made instructional videos on ukulele, bottleneck blues, Caribbean rhythms and Hawaiian guitar.