DigitalDreamDoor.com is a website featuring Greatest 100 Music, Movie, and Book lists. On August 12, 2012, scalloped fretboard guitar pioneer Matthew Montfort was added to their 100 Greatest Acoustic Guitarists list. Inclusion on the list is based on originality, innovation, technique, and influence on other acoustic guitarists. The list is intended for musicians whose primary instrument is the acoustic guitar, but not including the pioneers of jazz, classical, or flamenco, as DigitalDreamDoor.com maintains separate lists for those genres. Matthew Montfort joins luminaries such as Michael Hedges, Leo Kottke, Chet Atkins, John Fahey, Adrian Legg, Merle Travis, John Renbourn, Tommy Emmanuel, Doc Watson, Pierre Bensusan, Toni Rice, Alex De Grassi, Stefan Grossman, Artie Traum, Joni Mitchell, and Peppino D'Agostino in receiving this honor.
Video of 'Soul Serenade' from Matthew Montfort's Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar
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. Matthew Montfort teaches all styles of guitar along with music theory and repertoire for all instruments. He offers private lessons, music tutorials, and group classes in the San Francisco Bay Area and online via Skype, and is available to teach master classes and workshops worldwide.
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.
Sympathetic Serenade for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar by Matthew Montfort (Ancient-Future.Com Records EP AF-2012)
Sympathetic Serenade for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar By Matthew Montfort. Ancient-Future.Com EP AF- 2012. iTunes. >audio (Excerpt)
Matthew Montfort was added to the 100 Greatest Acoustic Guitarists List partly in response to the release of his new EP. When Montfort was working on his 2009 debut solo recording for scalloped fretboard guitar, 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 'Sympathetic Serenade' 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 is now available 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.
I first realized Matthew Montfort was a true guitar wizard when he called me on the phone and played me one flawless Hendrix riff after another. We were in the seventh grade. By the time we escaped high school, Matt had gone acoustic, turning coffee house basements into his own planet with fierce improvisations. Now a pioneering master of world fusion, his knowledge and depth are staggering, yet he doesn't let it get in the way of the joy and spirit and soul that we like about music in the first place." — Jello Biafra, Dead Kennedy singer turned spoken word artist
Matthew Montfort is an American Ravi Shankar on guitar." —Pandit Habib Khan, sitarist
Matthew Montfort's synthesis of styles and sounds isn't superficial — he plucks the essential musicality of several traditions without discounting them. Beautiful world fusion music." — Roger Carlberg, ELECTRONIC MUSICIAN
The most beautiful, soulful guitar I have ever heard!!"— Chandi Devi, Editor-in-Chief, KARMACAFE.COM
Master of the scalloped fretboard guitar." — J. Poet, EAST BAY EXPRESS
Matthew Montfort plays a special, scalloped fretboard acoustic instrument that lets him get the bends of an Indian sitar. He uses it to weave seductive melodies." — John Diliberto (host of ECHOES, syndicated on PRI stations)
Thorough knowledge of Hindustani microtonal ornaments, transferred in ways that create one of the most distinctive guitar sounds in contemporary music. When this level of mastery is reached, there is no need to rewrite. The first improvisation has the depth of a reworked composition." — Teed Rockwell, INDIA CURRENTS
This guitar work is stunning, intricate and wonderfully melodic." — J.W. McClure, VICTORY MUSIC
The mind-bending playing abilities of guitar virtuoso, Matthew Montfort, stem from the note-bending capabilities of the scalloped fretboard guitar." — Matthew Forss, INSIDE WORLD MUSIC
Matthew Montfort conjures lovely Asian zither-like inflections with a scalloped fretboard guitar." — GUITAR PLAYER