James Wood, B.A. Hons (Cantab.), F.R.A.M., F.R.C.O. Composer, conductor, musicologist, former percussionist - Professor of Percussion: Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik Darmstadt 1982-1994
In my various capacities as former percussionist and also as conductor of both instrumental ensembles and choirs throughout Europe I am constantly struck by the inadequacies of the majority of western musicians in the domain of rhythm. That goes especially for all the professional singers with whom I work regularly today - to a lesser extent for the instrumentalists and to a lesser extent still for the percussionists - but even the very finest of today's European, Japanese and American percussionists still have an awful lot to learn from the phenomenal traditions in the percussive arts of India, Iran and the Middle East.
In his ground-breaking book, Applying Karnatic Rhythmical Techniques to Western Music, Rafael Reina has not only provided an in-depth study of Karnatic rhythmics and its history, but he has also taken the crucial extra step in teaching it to Western musicians and composers in a way which will transform the way they think about rhythm. This revelation has the potential to bring all of us Western musicians closer to the source of that innate gift of rhythm that so many Indian and Iranian musicians seem to have.
I myself am working on a book which includes a significant section on harmonics and rhythmics in Ancient India, and although my own work focusses on extremely ancient theories from around 3 centuries B.C. up until Sarngadeva, I am deeply indebted to Rafael Reina for the crucial help he has given me, both through his book, and more especially in correspondence, in understanding the broader picture of South Indian rhythmics.
As a composer I have long held a deep fascination for ancient music theory - be it Greek, Chinese, Indonesian, Middle Eastern or Indian - and I notice that more and more composers are developing and demonstrating similar interests in their music. These interests are diverse, but they share a common trend of breaking down the barriers between East and West in music, which can only be a good thing - especially for the West. I find Reina's proposed project therefore to be extremely important in facilitating this evolution. Moreover it seems to me that Reina is the ideal and most qualified musician and researcher to undertake this important work, and so I would like to offer him my whole-hearted and enthusiastic support. I hope so very much that he will receive the necessary financial support from the ERC for this vitally important project.
Rafael Reina is foremost figure in devising practical pedagogical approaches to the technical integration of Carnatic musical techniques into the performance of western music and composition. His work has not been concerned with surface stylistic features but with fundamental concepts that have universal significance.
These aspirations have been cultivated by him over very many years and has greatly benefitted the many students of the Amsterdam Conservatorium through the unique programmes he inaugurated called 'Advanced Rhythm' and ‘Applications of karnatic rhythm to western music’.
His book Applying Karnatic Rhythmical Techniques to Western Music (Ashgate 2015) brings together more than twenty years of experience and study in this field. It is an impressively comprehensive work with no obvious comparisons. At present it stands alone.
With his wealth of practical experience and knowledge he would be close to the top of any list of researchers most qualified to work with projects whose aims are to build bridges between music of different cultures and histories.
Review of the Music Journal 'Echo' published by UCLA
"Applying Karnatic Rhythmical Techniques to Western Music is an ambitious book. In less than 500 pages, Rafael Reina is able to present dozens of Karnatic techniques, explain how to practice them, and show how they can be applied to learning and creating rhythmically advanced music, giving composers, improvisers, and other musicians a great array of tools. Furthermore, Reina’s work allows readers to access all of this information without needing to become fluent in a different language or having to learn a new instrument…
The second part of the book centers on applying Karnatic techniques to performing and composing Western music. The first chapter analyzes works from composers such as Brian Ferneyhough, Vijay Iyer, György Ligeti, John McLaughlin, Iannis Xenakis, and Frank Zappa, organizing them according to the rhythmic procedures featured in the piece. Although many of the excerpts were written by composers with no knowledge of Indian music, the use of Karnatic techniques to describe these works is not forced, as the similarities with the rhythmic devices explored in the first section are obvious. Here, Reina’s thesis shines by showing how the study of Karnatic music is a great aid when dealing with complex compositions, even if their relationship with Indian music is unintended. The second chapter presents three pieces by Reina’s students with commentaries from both the author and the composers. Complete scores are included for all three works and the Karnatic techniques utilized are listed and explained. This chapter showcases how the rhythmic devices featured in the book can be integrated into Western music in a variety of different ways. Each composer has a distinct approach, but none of them seem interested in Karnatic music for its exotic flavor; most listeners probably would not hear any Indian influence. In the commentaries, the students express how Reina’s program has given them a more cohesive method for working with complex rhythms, which has also improved their music’s playability".
Read full review
Miles Okazaki (B.A. Harvard University, M.M. Manhattan School of Music, A.D. Juilliard School, professor of guitar and rhythmic studies, University of Michigan)
I met Rafael Reina years ago, when I was in the midst of a decade long study of Karnatic music, searching for ways to integrate the principles into my own work. When I visited Amsterdam and saw his students at work, it was immediately clear to me that he had found ways to utilize principles and techniques of Karnatic music that simultaneously respected this tradition and expanded the abilities of performers in his program. Later, when 'Applying Karnatic Rhythmical Techniques to Western Music' was published, I gained a fuller understanding of the scope of his ambition, which is massive and ongoing. Based on my experience of 25 years of touring and teaching around the world, it is my opinion that professor Reina is in a singular position to advance rhythmic pedagogy in a direction that unites Western and Eastern modes of thought in a truly unique way. The idea of internalizing rhythmic concepts in order to have accurate and versatile tools for performance is one that I have taught for many years, and I owe a debt to professor’s Reina’s work in this area, and look forward to the next evolution of his body of work.
Peter Wiegold, Emeritus Professor, Brunel University. Director of Club Inégales and The Third Orchestra.
I had the pleasure of being Rafael’s supervisor for his PhD study of Karnatic Rhythm at Brunel University.
The result was an impressive piece of work. I can say that I have never known a PhD that so thoroughly investigated and documented a key musical tradition.
Rafael’s quite profound understanding not only embraced each of the key technical aspects of the tradition, but also its sensibility and expressive nature. He partly achieved this through extended study with leading masters of the tradition.
His important study provides a comprehensive view of one of the richest rhythmic traditions in the world. Built on sustained experiential learning, Karnatic rhythm provides an almost scientific investigation of rhythmic possibility, something which, through dedication and long study, Rafael Reina is especially able to convey and invoke. His is a study from a Western musician, and the double benefit of this book is that he is then able to demonstrate the efficacy and inspiration that a Karnatic approach to rhythm and rhythmic structure can bring to Western music, showing both how it can enhance performance and learning techniques, and also be a source for the composer of intriguing and reframing compositional devices.
Thus, what made his work increasingly valuable was his ability to integrate its principles into both rhythmic learning and contemporary compositional practice.
Working in the Amsterdam Conservatoire, he was first able to demonstrate the efficacy of practicing the tradition in achieving a rigorous rhythmic sensibility. Then how the techniques had resonances with the works of contemporary composers such as Xenakis and Ligeti, and thus the realisation of them, and then how this thinking and understanding could be applied in new composition, resulting in new formal possibilities and a broader expressive palate.
This current project, ‘Reimaging Musical Traditions’, takes his work an exciting step further, documenting the evolving nature of the Karnatic tradition and contributing to cross-cultural understanding in a very well-conceived long-term, multi-layered, research programme.
It is a most timely project, recognising the need for ever increasing depth of understanding of world musics in direct collaboration with the musicians themselves. Of developing practice and performance concepts that simultaneously respect the richness of individual traditions while looking for common ground, and creative possibility, a new music.
It is about connectivity, inclusivity, respect, vital in a fragmented world.
Rafael could not be better prepared for this moment, with the depth of his knowledge and practice of an ancient tradition, and his sustained work in the contemporary applications of it, I thoroughly commend this innovative new research.
Christopher Fox, Professor of Music. Director of Research of the Department of Arts and Humanities at Brunel University (London)
Dr. Rafael Reina Camara's research into ways in which the study and practice of Karnatic rhythms can aid musicians in their development of a more acute rhtyhmic sense is fascinating. I have participated in Rafael's workshops and seen, literally at first hand, how his method of training transforms the ability of musicians to perform complex rhythmic patterns. This has particuarly interesting implications for the performance of complex European music in the serial and post-serial traditions of the second half of the 20th century, making possible a degree of rhythmic precision that this music's composers may have imagined but raraely have heard in performance.
Dr. Jan van Landeghem, PhD in the Arts (VUB KCB Brussels), Composer – Organist - Pianist, Emeritus Professor Composition Royal Conservatory Brussels, Honorary Director Academy for Music, Theater and Dance Bornem. Professor Composition Musica Mundi School Brussels. Member of the Royal Flemish Aademy for Sciences and Arts Brussels
I know Dr. Rafael Reina for more than 15 years. First of all as Master in Carnatic Rhythms, he is world authority in the field.
His knowledge can be found in his book “Applying Karnatic Rhythmical Techniques to Western Music”. For years I have been using this book in my Composition Courses at Brussels Royal Flemish Conservatory and the Bornem Academy, and currently in the MUSICA MUNDI SCHOOL, Waterloo.
Secondly: as professor he is a great pedagogue and teaches fro many years at the Amsterdam Conservatory, where I also could see the fruits of his teachings, as well in new compositions of his students and himself. I had the honour to invite him for the Flemish Academy Teachers Society and in Brussels Royal Conservatory in several occassions and enjoyed his enthousiastic way of teaching the complex rhythmical language.
The opportunities that Karnatic rhythms including poly rhythmic, poly pulse and poly tempo offer are absolutely unique. The rhythmic vocabulary generated with so many new techniques are not available in classical music. Since the application of those rhythms the new music is seriously enriched with great achievements. The sensations the listener experiences are fascinating and astonishing.
Concerning the Multicultural project he is part of, I am convinced that the multicultural approach is the solution to bring cultures together. Mutual respect and understanding can grow in knowledge of each other's heritages. This implies also analysing those different cultural achievements and applying them and integrating them in Western cultural environments.
On the occassion of my doctoral topic “Chansons de fou” I made a study of Karnatic rhythms, African rhythms, Gamelan techniques, Chinese heterophony etc. By integrating them in a larger context of the multimedial project, I could achieve the interest of a large public, coming from different backgrounds and art forms (dance, theater, plastic arts, instrumental and vocal music).
So I would really like to recommend the postdoctiral project of Dr. Rafael Reina as a great opportunity for bringing Western and non-Western cultures together. I am convinced this multicultural model will help to bring peace and mutual respect into our European Society.
Richard Barrett, composer and performer, teaching at Institute of Sonology (The Hague) and University of Leiden
In my book Music of Possibility (Vision Edition 2019) I have advocated the exploration of new musical avenues through interconnections between musical traditions which have developed highly sophisticated ideas and materials in different and complementary directions, not through any process related to “otherness” or colonialism but through mutual respect and creative thinking. In making this case I referred to Rafael Reina’s work with Karnatic music which I feel is one of the most valuable examples of this kind of approach, in both practical and philosophical dimensions.
Jonas Johansen – Independent drummer, composer, bandleader and educator. (Former: Danish Radio Big Band 1990 – 99 / NHØP Trio 1993 – 2004 / Associate Professor Rhythmic Music Conservatory, Copenhagen 1999 – 2016)
Rafael Reina's book is a masterpiece. The most thorough and complete work I have ever explored, in the field of advanced rhythmical concepts explained, using western music notation and language. The combination of Reina’s comprehensive knowledge of the Karnatic Rhythmical techniques, with his understanding of what needs to be explained for a musician brought up in the western music tradition (and how to explain it), places his work in a league of its own among “rhythm aficionados” all over the world.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Rafael Reina’s book, Applying Karnatic Rhythmical Techniques to Western Music (Routledge, 2015) is an important milestone in non-western research and its possible influence on western music. The book has been very successful globally, reaching numerous academic institutions, as well as individuals, and I have no hesitation in recommending that Rafael be supported for future research.
The programme ‘Advanced Rhythm’ and the masters specialization 'Applications of Karnatic rhytm to contemporary music' have been a major influence in my professional and personal life since 2014.
I am active internationally in the field of contemporary music playing with ensembles such as Ensemble Intercontemporain or Ensemble Modern. The karnatic techniques helped me to analyse and perform western contemporary music with more understanding and accuracy. Both the programme ‘Advanced Rhythm’ and the masters specialization provided me with the necessary tools to face these complex rhythmical concepts.
The rhythmic theory and structure of karnatic music makes it easier to explain specific complex rhythms to my ensemble and orchestra colleagues.
For those who take the course, it also offers a shared and versatile language with which to communicate and talk about complex rhythms.
Louis Aguirre, Cuban composer, resident in Denmark and recipient of a structural stipend from the Danish Culture Ministry for composers.
Toivo Tulev, Leading Professor Department of Composition and Improvisational Performing Arts, EAMT. Former Composition artistic director of the Tallinn Academy of Music and Theatre
More and more young composers from all over the world with a thorough knowledge of the rhythmic traditions of South Indian music have emerged during the past few years. But it is not so much the knowledge, which matters here, it is all about the know-how. The know-how of how to implement Karnatic theory of rhythm into practice, the practice of composing new music according to how it has been understood in the West. This is what makes the courses of Karnatic music taught at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam absolutely unique.
Happily, after getting acquainted with the courses in Amsterdam, I was able to persuade Rafael to visit the Estonian Academy of Music and Theater in order to teach also there. During five years, starting from 2006, the curriculum of the Department of Composition was complemented with a course titled Contemporary Music through Non-Western Techniques. Participating in those classes changed the way I think while creating music, but also the way I listen to it. Indian classical music has opened up in a different and more profound way. And the impact on the students’ compositions of those years can hardly be overestimated.
I really believe that the Karnatic programme taught at the Amsterdma Conservatory offers unique material and concepts that can be developed by improvisers and composers during a lifetime period.
The understanding of many specific rhythmical techniques not only enriched my interest in Karnatic music, but it also influenced the way I improvise and compose music. Besides, I noticed and appreciated how the material was applicable on various esthetics and styles in music, from jazz, prog rock, to dance, contemporary classical music and more.
While I attended the improvisation and composition classes from 2017 to 2020 I wrote several compositions that became part of my second album as a leader: Liquid Identities, released in June 2020. These compositions show the way I applied some basic rhythmic concepts, without giving the impression to any listener that they are hearing Karnatic music. In this sense the programme opened for me the possibility to find and develop my personal voice as a composer.
I also obtained a lot of familiarity and advantage in the guise of music reader and interpreter in the moment I look at any score.
Today I incorporate South Indian rhythmic concepts in my improvisation and composition practice. Expanding rhythmical boundaries gives me more freedom every day.
Long before meeting Dr. Reina, I visited India and got to know a little bit about its music, which partly is similar to the music of my homeland Iran.
But it was only after studying Karnatic music at the Conservatory of Amsterdam that I realized how rich this culture is, and ever since I have implemented an approach that is very organic in my music. This education led me to participate in many projects such as creating a multi-language opera at the Holland Festival 2019. The piece I wrote for my second year of studying Karnatic music, “ Firouzeh” for 4-hands piano, has been performed regularly all over the world from the United States to Iran. I suppose Karnatic music and the way that Dr. Reina teaches it through his programme really help to implement a new way of approaching one’s own aesthetics
In 2017, I started my Master degree in Composition, at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, and I took the specialization 'Applications of karnatic rhythm to contemporary music', which gave me the opportunity to study with Rafael Reina and learning new concepts and techniques from Karnatic music. This experience brought to me a completely new perspective on rhythm, on form, on material development. It triggered a fresh new view on western music. It could have been just an exposition to a different musical culture, but it ended up greatly influencing my way of composing.
Firstly, these lessons made me feel comfortable on performing and understanding ideas as polyrhythms, polypulses or complex subdivisions of a beat. These are concepts highly explored in western contemporary music, repeatedly performed in a non-organic way, or seen as difficult/impossible challenges. At the same time, I gathered dozens of rhyhtmical developmental techniques that broaden my spectrum of compositional possibilities. I started looking to a single rhyhtmical gesture almost as a living cell, one that contains in its DNA all the information to evolve and grow into a complete piece of music. Last but not least: Studying all of these karnatic concepts, triggered my own creativity to develop the macro or micro-form of my own compositions, in a way that I believe it is authentic and honest to my own compositional language.
I ended up integrating these approaches in pieces that I wrote for the Remix Ensemble, Dutch National Opera Choir, Porto Symphonic Orchestra, Maat Saxophone Quartet, Nieuw Ensemble or Hermes Ensemble. Two of the pieces I composed during my program at the Conservatorium received awards from The Megalopolis Saxophone Orchestra (Boston, USA) and from SIMM - New Music for harpsichord (Milan, Italy). Since then, my music has been played in many concert halls around Europe and has been part of multiple festivals of new music. More recently, in 2020, I became the Young Composer in Residence at Casa da Música, in Porto, Portugal.
I was fortunate enough to encounter and study the fascinating concepts of Karnatic music through my studies in Amsterdam. From my 3rd year of by bachelor’s degree, I began studying with Dr. Reina the fundamentals of Karnatic music and most importantly its application to contemporary music, opening new doors of exploration, inspiration and most importantly craftsmanship to be able to express my ideas in a musical context. I ended up studying for 5 years the composition aspects of the program, complemented with 4 years of study of the performer’s program as well as the improvisers program.
This knowledge opened various doors in my life and affected my professional life in enormous ways. The concepts I studied in the program are part of my compositions ever since, leading to worldwide collaborations with renowned ensembles such as the Third Coast Percussion group, International Ensemble Modern Academy, ASKO|Schoenberg, Residentie Orkest, Vocaallaab, Nieuw Ensemble, The Black Page orchestra and more. My music has also been awarded with several prizes including the Buma Toonzetters Prize, Fedora Prize, International composition competition for piano quintet, Ballet composition prize by Cyprus symphony orchestra, and currently is selected as a finalist for Berlin Opera Prize and Prix Annelie De Man; highlights that became possible due to a distinct rhythmical language in my compositions. As a composer who composes large works as well as music theatre pieces, acquiring this background has inspired me tremendously to establish long forms in my pieces, incorporate rhythmical complexity in an organic way, introduce microtonality in my music and many more; elements that has established my identity as a composer to what it is now. Besides composition, I have been teaching these concepts in various foundations in Europe (including the Conservatorium Van Amsterdam), Mexico and Indonesia. The methodology developed by Dr. Reina through his research in Karnatic and its application to a western context, has provided me with tools to teach rhythm to students of various levels, as well as analyse contemporary pieces with composition students, and introduce to them the same fascination I had while being a student as well. In addition to these, the program helped me develop my conducting skills as well as my improvisation skills as a performer.
Before going into this programme I had an experimental interest in rhythmical complexity, both as a musician and as an electronic music producer, but doing anything outside of the Popular Western paradigm felt very challenging, almost unobtainable. Starting the classes however, my perception and understanding of rhythm rapidly transformed, to the point that what seemed impossible at first now comes with utter ease. Moreover, my horizon of rhythmical possibilities, ideas, concepts has broadened a thousand-fold, beyond what I could have ever imagined before being introduced to the rich world of Karnic rhythmical techniques. It even allowed me to create a range of tools for generating more complex rhythmical patterns for applying to electronic music. It has definitely left its mark on my music, as it has been integrated into my system with the help of the pedagogical methods developed to do exactly that, regardless of your artistic view or style.The programme challenges you with new concepts and ideas pushing the envelope throughout the four years, which is one of its great assets. My feeling is that every musician would greatly benefit from taking at least a basic course on advanced rhythm using the Karnatic concepts, to broaden their vision and instill a solid approach to rhythm in their practice and creation.
Antonio Rosales, Bass Clarinet and Basset Horn Soloist, Professor at Faculty of Music, National Autonomous University of Mexico
I studied the Advanced Rhythm programme during my Post-graduate studies at Conservatorium van Amsterdam in 2003-2005. Since then I have improved my performance in Contemporary Music and Classical Music as well, by achieving a deeper understanding of musical rhythm phenomenon, provided by the courses designed by Dr. Rafael Reina. Now I am passing on my knowledge to the young Mexican musicians that are my students at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where I teach Bass Clarinet, Advanced Rhythm and Solfege.
Musical rhythm was the subject that suffered the most after the implementation of the new musical education designed at the European Conservatories after the French Revolution. Since then, it has been a subject “taken for grant” in Western Music, with a total absence of methodology to learn it. The complexity that rhythm has reached in Western Music, since the second half of the 20th Century, has compelled professional musicians to find new ways to deal with this requirement in the searching for an interpretation of quality. Undoubtedly, the technique designed by Dr. Rafael Reina, has filled in a big gap in musical education. His accomplishments are of such relevance that they already have transcend continents and generations. I am grateful for the opportunity I had by learning these techniques which benefits are making a difference on a new generation of musicians in my country.
Peter Prommel, Ensemble Neue Musik, HFM Percussion & Professor at the Percussion department at Detmold College of Music (Germany)
As an educator for the past 25 years now at such institutions as the Hochschule für Musik Detmold in Germany, the Conservatory of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and Xi’an Conservatory in China, I have had the pleasure of working with the Karnatic programm and witness how this system influences and improve students rhythmical skills. The integration of Karnatic elements in improvisation, interpretation and performance of new music has been a great step forward in young people's ability to see through and recognize rhythmical elements and perform them with ease
I studied composition through Karnatic techniques with Rafael for 5 years and already from the first year it fundamentally influenced my way of looking at composing, and has expanded my rhythmical understanding and vocabulary. What I mostly value from Rafael’s classes is his broad knowledge of the subject, the openness to look into all kinds of material and things, his ways of teaching the material but most importantly the opportunity to have a close look through his eyes and research in the vast field of Karnatic rhythm techniques, which would have otherwise been very hard for someone coming from so far away from this music culturally and physically.
It has benefited me both as a person and as a composer to follow the class, and I’m really happy to have had the chance to be introduced to new ways of thinking about composing with techniques, new ways of understanding form, rhythm, notation. For me the karnatic lessons have been as crucial to my development as my regular composition lessons, introducing me to a greatly different compositional perspective.
Finally and very importantly, even though the topic of the classes is very concrete, he manages to both show respect to the culture to which it is referring, but also isolate its technicality in a way that makes it applicable to virtually any musician who is interested in using it.
When I started my master degree at Conservatorium van Amsterdam I was presented with the option of following the specialisation "Applications Karnatic Rhythm to Contemporary music'. Being a classical saxophone player means dealing with a lot of new music written everyday - lots of times quite complex as far the the rhythm is concerned -, and to have a specialisation that would help me to deal with much of that rhythmical world sounded like a great idea. So I met Dr. Rafael Reina.
Dr. Rafael Reina is an incredibly good pedagogue, and my experience with him couldn't have been better. His dedication gave me tools I didn't have and that I can find in the biggest rhythmic challenges of the most diverse repertoire, tools that I find extremely important as a classical and contemporary music player and which I wouldn't have found anywhere else. From working solo repertoire to chamber music literature, Dr. Reina accompanied me on my path to develop skills we usually don't find on classical music players. He also worked and guided a close composer who dedicated a piece for my saxophone ensemble and which we recorded on our debut CD. In the end the piece was extremely well received by the audience and already got a prize in a composing competition in the USA.
Besides these reasons, Dr. Reina shows an incredible passion not only for Karnatic music, but also for his life work of transmitting his knowledge to students, showing the hidden gems existent in this type of music and many times forgotten in the West. And not only is he passionate, but he truly believes in it.
In the end I couldn't be happier by having met Dr. Reina and his complete translation of Karnatic music to the western way of understanding music, which is surreal, and have the uttermost confidence his work will continue developing in the same impressive way.
Rafael Reina has largely contributed to rise a new generation of musicians with an advanced perspective on rhythmical aspects in music, his research and his teaching at the Amsterdam Conservatory are now a solid reality and I am looking forward to further development of his research.
Some years ago I moved to Amsterdam to exclusively study the program “Advanced Rhythm”. At the end of the year I was able to play a very complex piece by Rafael Reina called “The Alchemist Wisdom”, for percussion and piano. If someone would have told me at the beginning of the year that I would be able to play the piece with the required accuracy I wouldn’t have belived it.
The program was a revelation in terms of how much karnatic rythmical techniques can be used in composition, improvisation and improving rythmical accuracy when performing contemporary music. I kept on studying the programme focusing in composition, and I still retain the impression of the first classes when I thought that what I was seeing was just the tip of the iceberg of th amount of knowledge the course can offer.
The pedagogical approach of Reina is progressively scheduled in a way that bring fast results, and the book “Applying Karnatic Rythmical Techniques to Western Music” is one that I will always have in my bedside table.
We are pleased that we have published two compositions by Rafael Reina in our music publisher Edition Tre Fontane.We specialize in demanding recorder music and have published the piece Dark Liturgy V (ETF 2164) for tenor recorder solo and Amor in tiempos de Colera (ETF 2163), based on the novel by G. Garcia Marquez, for recorder quartet.These outstanding and unique works occupy a special position in the recorder literature.After all, they are very individual in their tone, rhythmical and sound language, in their colourfulness and the musical representation of emotionality.You move artistically at the highest level.Thank you, dear Rafael, for this fantastic music!
Richard Jansen, coordinator of the percussion department at the Amsterdam Conservatoire, former member of the Amsterdam Percussion Group
As a study leader / coordinator and teacher of the 'classical' percussion department of the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, I have noticed how inspired students are by the Carnatic ideas.
Most of them found a new way to interpret complex music and rhythmic structures in a different way.
The conventional notation of many composers gives in a sense, a limited musical interpretation to the music.
With Carnatic music that becomes much clearer.
In the course at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, students learn to apply the Carnatic principles to Western music.
Conventional notation is not wrong, but the Carnatic approximation provides a good alternative (and addition) to the original notation.
"It is impossible to discuss the whole content of this extensive work here, but this is unmistakably a book you can continue to read for many years with great pleasure, to either improve yourself or be inspired by new creative ideas."
In 2018 I started my master's degree in panflute at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam with the specialisation of 'Applications of Karnatic Rhythm to Contemporary Music', and I had the chance to learn about a perspective of the musical world that was completely new to me at the time. The programme that Rafael Reina put together for the musicians coming from all over the world not only about the rhythmical aspects but also about the larger picture which includes interpretation and providing students with the right tools, freedom, and confidence to be creative and find their voice by learning different concepts and structures. During the ensemble lessons, deepening sessions, and individual coaching lessons, we explored different applications of the rhythms within the pieces and exercises we were working on.
Playing an instrument that is not so common in the world of classical music - such as the panflute - necessitates working with contemporary composers and exploring all facets of the instrument and its advanced techniques. This work has been greatly enhanced by Rafael Reina and his classes at the Consrvatorium van Amsterdam, and it has opened up worlds of timbre, tuning, and rhythmical concepts otherwise largely unknown to me, which I am able to apply in any genre of music, whether I play solo or with my ensembles.
Studying Carnatic music at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam was for me a challenge. As an active and professional jazz pianist and composer I had a certain theoretical knowledge and experience in dealing with odd metters and some rhythmical possibilities within those. The opportunity to study carnatic music confronted me with a well- organized system bringing out almost limitless possibilities to structure my knowlegde and level it up for a lot of new concepts for improvising and composing. The Carnatic system has changed my perception for good, and uplifted it to exciting dimensions of detailed undestanding of musical content. Having the great experience of being taught by Rafael Reina and Jos Zwaanenburg certainly made my further dealing with music as a great perpetuum of endless composing and improvising devices and self-generated ideas.
Michał Gasztych (Poland) – saxophonist, teacher at the State Complex of Music Schools in Szczecinek, Ph.D. candidate at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw
Between 2013 to 2019 I participated in the ‘Advanced Rhythm’ programm). Classes were held at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, where I was a student.
The ‘Advanced Rhythm’ programme itself is very innovative and interesting. It consists not only of theoretical classes, but also includes a collection of related topics – from practical exercises individually and in groups through ensemble playing, composing, learning about instruments and traditions of that kind of music, ending even with mathematical calculations. Therefore, the prevalent majority of students at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam know and willingly choose this programme during their education.
I began my improvement in the field of Karnatic music in 2013 with the introductory course. Already during my studies, I had the opportunity to find out about the usefulness of the knowledge acquired. Thanks to that I became better at dealing with contemporary pieces with intricate rhythmical figures, among others in works of composers as: Luciano Berio, Tristan Keuris, György Ligeti, Iannis Xenakis. I used my skills both in solo saxophone playing and in chamber music.
Currently, I use the knowledge of Karnatic techniques for my performance (for quicker and more effective learning of complex rhythmical structures in various types of pieces) and in teaching (while giving lessons to students). I also share it during saxophone workshops and lectures at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw.
I am very grateful to Dr. Reina for his guidance and commitment to the project.
I believe that nowadays, when music is developing faster and faster in a way that is diversified and open to new branches, knowledge of non-Western music techniques is very necessary.
The ‘Advanced Rhythm’ programme effectively helps to:
• develop tremendously technical, interpretative and cognitive skills of students of all ages and musical levels;
• accelerate the learning process of the given material;
• improve concentration, multitasking, logical thinking;
• introduce a wide range of methods in coping with rhythmical difficulties;
• broaden the knowledge of solfège with non-Western (South-Indian) methodology.
There is a need to popularize this field of music, because that kind of approach is still little known in countries with Western musical traditions. Introducing the Karnatic techniques to music schools would certainly have an optimal effect on the overall development of students from both primary music schools and universities.
If a musician is always wondering how to play correctly quintuplets, septuplets, brackets
(e.g. 3:4, 5:3, 21:20), or would like to discover the oriental meters, such as: 7/10, 4/12, 5/28, and many other techniques at which one would normally clutch one's head while reading them – this course is definitely for that musician!