Matthew Montforts “Purple Raga”

December 1, 2009

gp1209_riffs_mont2_nr“IN MY JUNIOR YEAR IN HIGH SCHOOL I made a conscious decision to devote myself to music that fused ideas from various world traditions,” says Ancient Future’s Matthew Montfort. To that end, Montfort attended the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, California, in 1977, and studied with South Indian vina master K.S. Subramanian. He also modified his guitar to better accommodate the techniques he was learning. “The vina has frets similar to a scalloped-fretboard guitar,” explains Montfort. “And Subramanian taught me many techniques of pulling the strings across the frets to create the various note-bending ornaments, which are often combined in very involved ways.” Sometimes, the various world traditions Montfort works with include his own. “I began to think about the intersection between raga and the music of Jimi Hendrix after seeing a photograph of Jimi in the front row of an Indian music concert, his mouth agape in awe of what he was experiencing,” he says. “Then one day a student of mine was having difficulty improvising over the chord changes in “Purple Haze,” and I had the idea that the techniques learned by studying Indian music would help my student to improvise more effectively. Visit to watch Montfort demonstrating the raga he devised from the ‘Purple Haze’ solo, and read the accompanying lesson.

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