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Issue 13. Winter/Spring 2011:

Welcome to the World Rhythms News, an infrequent newsletter dedicated to world music education. To subscribe, use the form below. Follow instructions thereafter, and make sure to check "World Music Education" in the "Interests" section of the sign up process.

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In this issue:

El Zaffa Rhythm
World Music Workshop at Esalen March 18-20, 2011
Music Lessons Via Skype


Rhythm in Arabic music is organized into cycles of beats and pauses. Each cycle consists of a fixed number of metric pulses, including a hierarchy of strong beats, weak beats, and silent beats that define a groove. In performance some of the rests or silent beats may be filled in, but the underlying feel is maintained. The sounding beats vary in timbre and are described with onomatopoeic syllables. The strong beat is described using the syllable "dum" for the heavy low-pitched center sound of the drum. The weak is represented by the word "tek" for the bright, high-pitched edge or side sound of the drum and is not necessarily less loud than the strong beat. In some ways, it shares a similar feeling to the off-beat in Western music.

In Egypt, elzaffa, or wedding march, is a musical procession of drums. The main pattern is 8 beats long.

1   +   2   +   3   +   4   +   | 1   +   2   +   3   +   4   + |
dum     tek ka  tek     tek       dum     tek     tek    (tek ka)

dum (right hand clear low tone)
tek (right hand high crisp tone)
ka (left hand, sounds like tek)

Tabla IconMIDI

After learning the traditional rhythm, check out Ancient Future's performance of Matthew Montfort's world fusion composition in this rhythmic mode, "El Zaffa."

El Zaffa by Ancient Future Live Video

El Zaffa 4:26 (Matthew Montfort. © 2001 Ancient Future Music). iTunes. >YTmusic. Full version/best audio quality appears on Planet Passion (Ancient-Future.Com AF-2010) CD/Gift Card, $17.98: Buy CD Now.

Bring in the Spring Equinox with a World Music Workshop at Esalen, Big Sur

Weekend of March 18-20, 2011
8:30 p.m. 3/18/2011 through 11:30 am 3/20/2011
Esalen Institute
55000 Highway 1
Big Sur, CA 93920
Cost: $360 to $695, depending on accommodations
Reservations: 831-667-3005
Fax: 831-667-2724. Email:
Download event poster: Esalen3-18-11.pdf (628 k)
Facebook Event

This workshop ending on the spring equinox 2011 is a great way to begin spring with improved timing skills. Matthew Montfort is the author of Ancient Traditions - Future Possibilities: Rhythmic Training Through the Traditions of Africa, Bali and India. The book, which is the basis for this world music workshop, received rave reviews in publications such as GUITAR PLAYER, ELECTRONIC MUSICIAN, DRUMS AND DRUMMING, and the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE. Material from the book has been used by many teachers and musicians around the world, including Reinhard Flatischler, founder of the TaKeTiNa rhythm training process, and Steve Smith, famed jazz and rock drummer.

The workshop is presented in an easy to follow, entertaining yet educational format for all music lovers. African polyrhythms, Balinese kotèkan and Indian classical music were chosen as the source material for the training because these three traditions in combination cover the major types of rhythmic organization used in most of the world's music. Not just for musicians and percussionists, this training can help anyone with a desire to improve their rhythmic skills. Melodic aspects of the traditions will also be explored through vocal chanting and ensemble performance in a supportive setting. The workshop is open to all levels, and no musical background is required. Very simple to play percussion instruments will be provided, and participants are free to bring any percussive or melodic instruments they enjoy playing.

Matthew Montfort holds a B. A. in World Music and Composition and an M. A. in Arts and Media Technology from Antioch University. A pioneer of the scalloped fretboard guitar (an instrument combining qualities of the South Indian vina and the steel string guitar), Montfort spent three months in intensive study with vina master K. S. Subramanian in order to fully apply the South Indian gamaka (note-bending) techniques to the guitar. His debut solo CD, Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar was released in 2009 to rave reviews on Ancient-Future.Com Records. He has performed concerts worldwide, including at the Festival Internacional de la Guitarra on the golden coast of Spain near Barcelona.

Ancient Traditions--Future Possibilities Book

Book/Enhanced Audio CD Set with MIDI Soundfiles:$52.95 (SALE! Normally $69.95): Buy 1 Now.

"You've heard Afro-Pop, sitar, gamelan and world music for years. But do you know what they are and how they work? Better yet, would you like to play those twisted cross-rhythms and melodies? In Ancient Traditions--Future Possibilities, Matthew Montfort, a founding member of the world music band Ancient Future, has put together the book for people who want to dig into world music with both hands. Wherever possible, Montfort has provided beat counts alongside the standard musical notation so even if you can't read music, you can still learn the rhythms." – Richard Kadrey, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

Post Workshop Concert by Ancient Future

Featuring Matthew Montfort (scalloped fretboard and fretless guitars) and Mariah Parker (santur)

Photo of Mariah Parker and Matthew Montfort

Intimate Concert Performance
March 20, 2010, 7 pm
The Henry Miller Library

Highway 1
Big Sur , CA 93920
Venue Web site:
Tel: 831-667-2574
Tix: $20 adv/$25 door. Seating is limited to 60. Advance purchase recommended at
Poster (400k):

Scalloped fretboard guitarist Matthew Montfort and santurist Mariah Parker will perform music from Ancient Future's broad repertoire, including three current releases on Ancient-Future.Com Records celebrating 30 years of world fusion music: Planet Passion by Ancient Future (remastered to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the band), Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar by Ancient Future leader Matthew Montfort, and Sangria by Mariah Parker.

Now Available: Correspondence Music Lessons Via Skype

Skype Pick Icon

And Other Multimedia File Exchange Methods

Private Lessons with Matthew Montfort

Now you can study any of the subjects on the education section of Ancient-Future.Com through private correspondence lessons (via Skype or any method of file exchange) with Ancient Future bandleader and guitarist, Matthew Montfort. Feel free to email with any questions you may have about how correspondence lessons can help you in your musical development!

All compositions, recordings, video, and text in this article © 2011 Ancient Future Music. All rights reserved.