Matthew Montfort's 'Sympathetic Serenade' Streets May 22, 2012
When Matthew Montfort was working on his debut solo recording for scalloped fretboard guitar (a special guitar modified to enable ornaments characteristic of the sitar), he recorded a number of spontaneously improvised serenades. Were it not for some serendipitous sequencing coupled with the allure of alliteration, it's likely that this recording would have been released as the eighth improvisation on what became 'Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar.' Instead, this evocative Spanish serenade/raga hybrid receives a mini EP treatment on Matthew Montfort's 'Sympathetic Serenade for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar.' The nearly 11 minute long track, entitled 'Sympathetic Serenade,' will be available starting May 22, 2012, as a download complete with nine pages of digital liner notes at digital retailers such as iTunes, and as a signed CD-R exclusively at Ancient-Future.Com.
Scalloped Fretboard Guitar
Already well known as the leader of the trailblazing world music group Ancient Future, Matthew Montfort's solo recordings showcase his pioneering work on the scalloped fretboard guitar. In late 1978, luthier Ervin Somogyi carved out the wood between the frets of Montfort's Gibson SJ Deluxe so that the pads of his fingers touch only the strings, reducing friction while bending them to produce ornaments more characteristic of the sitar. While visually subtle, the difference in sound is striking. Montfort had his fretboard scalloped in order to play various forms of world music that require intricate note-bending ornaments while still being able to play chords. He uses the South Indian vina method of bending notes: the strings are pulled across the frets in order to raise the pitch.
As leader of the world music group Ancient Future, Matthew Montfort has devoted himself to the scalloped fretboard guitar since 1978. Montfort immersed himself in an intensive study with vina master K.S. Subramanian in order to fully apply the South Indian gamaka (note-bending) techniques to the guitar. He has worked with many world music legends, including tabla phenomenon Zakir Hussain and Chinese zither master Zhao Hui. He has performed hundreds of concerts worldwide since 1978, from New York City's Carnegie Recital Hall to the Atlantis nightclub in Beirut, Lebanon. His scalloped fretboard work was featured in 2003 and 2005 at the Festival Internacional de la Guitarra on the golden coast of Spain, which showcases top guitarists from all over the world. He toured India in 2006 and 2008, performing at the prestigious Festival of India in Mumbai with sitar master Pandit Habib Khan and tabla maestro Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri. He has performed live on national shows such as the Echoes Living Room Concerts on PRI, and the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. He holds a B.A. in World Music and Composition and an M.A. in Arts and Media Technology from Antioch University. For his M.A. thesis, Montfort wrote the book 'Ancient Traditions — Future Possibilities: Rhythmic Training Through the Traditions of Africa, Bali, and India,' which has been used by many musicians to improve their rhythm skills.