Sympathetic Serenade for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar - EP
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It isn't every day that acoustic guitarists make their instrument sound a lot like an Indian sitar, but that is exactly what Matthew Montfort accomplishes on the instrumental Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar. What exactly is a scalloped fretboard guitar? According to Ancient-Future.com, guitar maker Ervin Somogyi took an acoustic guitar back in 1978 and "carved out the wood between the frets so that the pads of Montfort's fingers touch only the strings, reducing friction while he bends them to produce ornaments more characteristic of the sitar." And while that might sound technical to those who aren't professional musicians, there is no question that the scalloped fretboard guitar that Montfort plays on this early-2009 release is very sitar-sounding. Traditional Indian music is a strong influence on instrumentals like "Purple Raga," "Gauri the Golden," and "Lilalit," which is not to say that this is a traditional Indian album in the Ravi Shankar vein. Instead, Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar is best described as world fusion; Indian music is an influence, but it isn't the disc's only influence — and Montfort also draws on everything from Spanish flamenco to blues to folk-rock. Celtic music is an influence on "Celtic Raga," which successfully combines Irish-Celtic and Indian elements. Through it all, Montfort demonstrates that even though he has considerable chops and technical prowess, he is much more interested in feeling and expression than technique. This 56-minute CD is an adventurous, consistently engaging demonstration of what Montfort can accomplish on the scalloped fretboard guitar.
Another guitar masterpiece from Matthew Montfort...
“Sympathetic Serenade” brings to light a composition that was originally slated to be a track on Matthew Montfort’s critically acclaimed CD, “Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar.” As circumstances would have it, it was decided not to include the piece on the album. However, Matthew was not willing to let this example of fretboard virtuosity fade into obscurity, and he re-animated it as a stand alone EP – almost like a bonus track for “Seven Serenades.” This track is a solo piece, which Matthew improvised on his scalloped fretboard guitar (a special guitar modified to enable ornaments characteristic of the sitar.) As such there is a strong Indian vibe to the music, but which also includes elements of Spanish guitar and Indonesian gamelan. This blending of diverse musical elements is certainly not new to Matthew who is a founding member of the ground breaking group Ancient Future, that for 30 years, has been integrating various styles of world music into a savory melting pot which has found a devoted following in the new age music market and beyond. The music on “Sympathetic Serenade” is exotic and lends itself to daydreaming of far away places. When it comes to playing this kind of music, Matthew Montfort is in a league of his own as one listen to “Sympathetic Serenade” will reveal.