Testimonials

Helen Bledsoe, flute player with MusikFabriek (Cologne)

I am convinced that the rhythmical and melodic concepts I learned from the Advanced Rhythm programme gave me an advantage while preparing for the International Gaudeamus competition, for which I won the 1st prize in 1996. My private instrumental instruction with Harrie Starreveld was of course a huge inspiration, support and guidance. But instrumental instructors do not follow you into the practice room. What follows you are concepts you pick up on how to practice and approach music. Since I was deep into the ideas from the programme, I found ways to dissect complex rhythms from the perspective of Karnatic rhythmical structures, improve intonation, and make studies out of difficult passages using Karnatic improvisational methods. 
As a prize winner, I came to the attention of the Ensemble Musikfabrik, which hired me in 1997 and where I continue to work. There is a direct connection to the skills and concepts I learned from the course to the Ensemble hiring me as a musician. That is material evidence. However I would like to mention a different aspect which is often overlooked when evaluating education. The skills it takes to win a job are not the same skills you need to keep a job. Those who have had the opportunity to have a broad education, who have been exposed to other musical cultures and ways of thinking are less susceptible to burn-out and depression, in my view. My knowledge of non-Western music has also been a boost to the Ensemble, and has been helpful in establishing our trans-cultural projects with musicians from Iran, Iraq and Turkey. Therefore, I am grateful not only to Rafael Reina for his initiative for offering this programme and opening windows for me, but to the Conservatorium for supporting him.

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.


Frank Denyer  (composer, emeritus professor Dartington College, University of Falmouth, UK)

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.

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.
 

Heidi Bishop, Senior Commissioning Editor, Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group)

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.

Jaume Darbra Fa, flutist with Ensemble Modern

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.

Jonathan Ihlenfeld Cuñado, bass player with Trilok Gurtu

The Advanced Rhythm  programme  of Rafael Reina was a unique possibilty of studying, training and developing my, primarily, rhythmical skills; besides that, it si my believe that the course opens for  every student a complete new world of possibilties not used in our western system. 
Due to this knowledge I acquired here (what has had a huge impact on me, and influenced and inspired me a lot) I got in the band of Indian tabla legend Trilok Gurtu, with whom i am working now successfully for some years and I toured the whole world. 
Also i got the chance to perform with L. Subramaniam, Vikku Vinayakram, S. Swaminatham, Sivamani, Anindo Chatterjee, Al Di Meola, Gary Husband.
This programme is unique and necessary

Louis Aguirre, Cuban composer, resident in Denmark and recipient of a structural stipend from the Danish Culture Ministry for composers.

When it comes to composing, I separate my life in two stages: the years in which I was still in Cuba, and the period starting in 2002 when I went to the Amsterdam Conservatory to study composition and Karnatic music with Rafael Reina and Jos Zwaanenburg.
Studying the classical music of South India gave me the necessary tools to organize my musical thoughts and the musical ideas that I had already explored in Cuba. The studies of karnatic music helped me to create my own “basso cifrado” -ground bass- that systematised my microtonal way of composing. Furthermore, I was very lucky to meet  some extraordinary musicians studying the same programme, players that without any fear faced the increasingly complex scores I was creating. 
From this initial stage in Europe I consider my work ‘Eshu-Eleggua’ (2003), for solo amplified harpsichord, my first “true” work, the piece which would mark the future path of my language and my special musical syncretism. Also from this time is “Añá: Liturgia de la Transmutación”, my first percussion and ensemble concerto. In both works, the most important elements that integrate my musical language came in contact with one another: Afro-Cuban heritage and Karnatic techniques, crystallized through my personal optics of  Western classical music, which I learned through the old Russian school.
In 2004 I moved to Denmark, where I developed a language where the brutal and ritualistic aspects of my personality, incarnated by the Afro-Cuban roots and religion, are inextricably linked to the sophistication of Karnatic rhythm and developmental concepts. One without the other couldn’t exist, and without the finnese and techniques of many karnatic concepts, I feel like my music would not have become what it is now. I am totally certain that due to it I was able to create my own unique voice in the Western music arena. 
Although at the beginning I found in Northern Europe many reticences to my language and to the level of complexity I write with, step by step I have gained recognition and more and more commissions and concerts around the world, to the point that, in 2015, I obtained the biggest award the Statens Kundfond of Denmark gives to composers, the “Tre-årige Arbejdslegat”, and the first given in Denmark to a non-Scandinavian citizen. Among other awards that my music has received are: Winner (1st prize) of the 2011 Martirano Award, University of Illinois, USA, for my String Quartet “Ochosi”; in 2013 the short film “Karrusel”, with my music and directed by Russian film director Maria Yaborska, was finalist at the Cannes Film Festival; in 2017 my 4th opera “THE WAY THE DEAD LOVE” was commissioned and premiered in Århus, Denmark, as part of the Århus European Capital of Culture 2017; from 2014 - 2016 I was Composer in Residence of Neopercusión & Colectivo Neo Ensembles, Madrid, Spain; in 2011 my work Oba-Kosso, for solo percussion, was winner (3rd prize) of the 9th Italy Percussion Competition, Fermo, Italy;… 
Nowadays, my music is played at the more important venues, festivals and by great ensembles and musicians such as:  Arditti Quartet, Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen, Adam Ørvad, Barbara Lünenburg, Neo percusión & Colectivo Neo, Juanjo Guillém, TANA Quartet, Melisma Saxophone Quartet, Henriette Jensen, JONDE Orchestra, Lydenskab Ensemble, Black Pencil Ensemble, Residencias Ensemble, Enric Monfort, Karolina Leedo, Sonja Lena Schmid, …and festivals and venues such as: Internationale Ferienkurse für neue musik, Darmstadt; Ultraschal Festival, Berlin; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA; Nordic Music Days; Concert series "Südseite nachts", Stuttgart; Gaudeamus Week, Holland; Tallin Music Days, Estonia; Dijon Opera House, France; Moscow Philarmonic, Russia, Festival Saint-Denis, Paris, France; Auditorio Nacional, Madrid, Spain; Zavod za kulturu Vojvodine, Serbia; Contemporary Music Society of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; RE:FLUX 11. Music and sound art festival. Salle Bernard- Leblanc, Centree Culturel Aberdeen, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada; Boris Christoff Music Centre, Sofia, Bulgaria; China International Percussion Festival. 2017 PAS, Shanghai; Mozarteum University Salzburg, Austria; ”Arsenal” (National Center of Contemporary Arts), Nizhni Nóvgorod, Volga, Russia; Istambul Woodwind Festival, Caddebostan Culture Center, Istanbul, Turkey; Ramsey Concert Hall, University of Georgia, USA; Muziekgebow, Grote Zaal, Amsterdam; Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris Nord, France;… 

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.

Federico Calcagno, composer and improviser

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.

Sarah Jeffery, multi-faceted recorder player, winner of prestigious awards for recorder

On a professional level, the programme has helped in many concrete ways. For example, after learning Rafael Reina's piece 'Liturgy of Darkness 5' (only possible after studying 5 years of the Advanced Rhythm programme - and certainly the most difficult piece for the recorder that I ever tackled!) I won the Nordhorn Recorder Competition, which is well known in the recorder world - and the first prize was to record a solo CD. I have also been invited to perform a solo concert in Denmark, after a composer (Louis Aguirre) heard me performing the same piece in Amsterdam. This solo CD and solo concert (and others like it) would certainly not have happened if not for the Advanced Rhythm programme.
On an individual level, I have also been able to play many pieces utilising the techniques - both through meeting composers affiliated with the programme, and personally having the confidence to tackle solo pieces that use these techniques. The programme has made me a much, much better musician both technically - it's so satisfying and useful to be able to actually see and perform rhythms accurately and musically instead of guessing, and the same goes for microtones. It has also opened my eyes to huge amounts of music outside our western classical world, which is very important for any musician.

Hans Leeuw, trumpet player, composer and teacher of music technology at the HKU (Utrecht)

When I started the masters 'Application of Karnatic Rhythm to western music' it was mainly to use it for compositional purposes. I had a drive to write pieces in a modern or avant-garde jazz kind of way, but lacked the tools to work with form in a less straight format and still keep structure in my pieces. Differently put: I was able to write 'songs' or completely free associative pieces but I wanted something in between. I thought the masters could provide me with abstract tools to accomplish this. Of course I knew already some results from other composition students that followed the 'Advanced Rhythm' programme, some of which I found intriguing and interesting, and above all I saw a great potential. I am fond of complexity in general as life itself is complex. Making complex music is in that sense a statement against the simple way in which current day problems are often presented in populist politics.
An added benefit was that the course provided an integrated playing and composition environment. In other words, the programme provided a testing ground. That testing ground and an interactive way of designing is what attracts me as a person. I know I can be cerebral but I believe in a more communicative way of music-making as opposed to the hierarchical structures that are so typical of the classical realm. I had quite a few instances where pieces of mine were improved through the interaction with the players.
After the programme I  even wrote an extra piece just to experience that working environment. In my own band, which was pretty dedicated for a jazz band, I did not find the dedication that existed with musicians following the programme. So, that was another reason to do the masters: very dedicated people to go in new ways with complex material. A nourishing musical educational environment.
Afterwards I kept writing pieces for my own band and at one point they were all convinced of applying the principals that I learned within the course. Gradually my band improved through my pieces as well!!! At the moment I do not really write pieces because I am  busy developing my own invention ‘the Electrumpet’ but I am still using the principles of the course there as well. I could say that I am composing the instrument itself. At the moment I just finished a recognition algorithm for rhythms and of course the same ideas of Karnatic music are used to recognise phrases. In fact my whole new system is based on the idea of the phrase. The additive nature of Karnatic music let you think in that manner and with its algorithmic system in both the music itself and in its teaching it is greatly beneficial for algorithmic music made with the computer.
I am teaching the course material myself as well at the HKU (University of the Arts Utrecht, department Music Technology). Unfortunately I do not have the same amount of time for my students as I had myself when I followed the course at the conservatory but it is striking how much its fundamental principles help to give young composers a different insight in how to compose music. Some of them will use these principles in their music although I do not have the same dedicated group to let them test on each other as we had at the AHK. On the other hand they use computers and for computers understanding algorithmic music making is second nature.
Concluding:  the material of the programme allowed me to take a new step in my career as composer, I use the material also to teach it to students myself and above all: The material of the course and its algorithmic nature opened up a new way of thinking about music for myself but also my students.

Aftab Darvishi, Composer

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

Nuno Lobo, Young Composer in Residence at Casa da Música (Porto)

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.

Carles Marigo, pianist and teacher at the ESMUC and Liceu (Barcelona)

All my life I’ve been playing and composing music that interested me. So, since my very first piano lessons I was learning both jazz and classical music. Shortly afterwards, I started to play and compose Catalonian tradicional music. But then I decided to formalize my studies with a diploma. And there started my dilema. Which direction should I take? To be honest, I tried the easy way. So, I became a pianist in the classical and contemporary worlds. I studied in Barcelona and Moscow Tchaikovsky’s Conservatoires. I won a few competitions, played  a great amount of concerts. I felt I was already on the ‘beaten track’. During these years, I almost stopped my skills as a composer and improviser. During my master in Moscow I realized that the "classical pianist way" was not filling me enough. I was not happy. So, I started to improve my improvisation in a self-taught manner. 
Today (34 years old) I’m teaching improvisation (classical and contemporary music) in the Conservatoire in Barcelona where I studied (ESMUC) as well as at the Barcelona’s Liceu. At the ESMUC I met Rafael Reina, who is teaching us the course on Karnatic Techniques. And there my world spun around!. Working with these rhythmical techniques and its almost infinite developmental possibilities made me discover new ways to improvise, to learn and read new music, to compose.  I (we!) need a programme where we can learn all the things we need to become complete musicians who can compose, play, improvise, teach, all in our way. The programe offers these needs and whims of musicians like me who don’t feel that belong to a particular box.

Tijn Wybenga, composer and recipient of structural fonds from the Dutch Culture Ministry

The master ‘Applications of karnatic rhythm to western music’ gave me all theoretical, creative and practical elements I need to create my own musical language. As a composer I am trained in a jazz tradition but my music tends to use a lot of more ‘classically oriented’ instrumentations and development. However, my jazz background is always there and I don’t really see myself as a composer following the path of the ‘contemporary avant-garde’ characteristic of the 20th and 21st centuries. The flexibility and the transversal aspects of this masters enabled me to develop my own whims and path. Therefore, I could articulate my signature in my music, regardless of any style or genre in composition.
Another aspect is the amount of time I could spend with top-level musicians to explore new ways of composing, performance and improvisation and then be able to create my music in any circumstances having a wide array of tools in my hands.
Creating a musical language derived from a foreign musical culture takes time, but it is very fruitful and therefore necessary. Examples like Stravinsky or Messiaen; they changed the western musical world by creatively implementing 'intercultural music' into Western Tradition.

Oene van Geel, composer, improviser, viola player

Following the Advanced Rhythm study for 4 years totally changed my musical life!
For three main reasons:
1) It introduced me to lots of concepts of South Indian music and contemporary music which we, the students, then applied in the classroom and at school performances. But more importantly: these concepts also enabled me (and other students) to apply them as a composer and in the bands/ ensembles we were doing at the time. I use this concepts to this very day! It depends from composition to composition how much of these (amazing) tools I will use but they are always there in my ‘tool box’.
When I, as a player, encounter difficult rhythms, melodic embellishments or microtonality, I am also much more at home with them now than I was before studying the Advanced Rhythm programme.
I can't thank enough to  Rafael Reaina and Jos Zwaanenburg for teaching us in such a structured and lively way!
2) Through the Advanced Rhythm programme I got in contact with amazing musicians from Bangalore with whom there are still projects happing today.
With a group of students we went  to India 3 times, each time for a period of over a month. While there we were doing lots of cross-over concerts and the musical knowledge did totally get its ‘flesh and blood’.
On counter visits open-minded musicians from South-India joined us for projects  in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe.
3) While following the Advanced Rhythm programme  I met many other curious musicians who where all, like me, on new territory. People from the contemporary and classical department mixed with jazz and improv musicians and composers. We all worked hard in exploring the many possibilities but we also were having a lot of fun since it is such rich material to explore! A lot of these collaborations are still going on today and I am thankful for it.

Mark Haanstra, composer, bass player

I belong to the first generation of Rafael Reina's students. His course was still in the beginning stages and not as well structured as it is now. However, for me it was one of the best educations I had. At that time I was interested in music from Steve Coleman, Aka Moon and similar artists. This drew me to the programme, since there were very few sources to get information about this kind of material at the time.
Advanced Rhythm gave me the necessary tools to achieve precision playing this kind of material. But not only that: Since it was one of the few places where classical musicians and jazz musicians were working on equally new ground I got one foot into the classical field in early stages of my career. I got introduced to playing complex music with conductors, I was able to work together closely with composers. All these things enabled me to achieve a better understanding about Karnatic music, New music and different styles of improvisation. To me it felt like it was a portal to a whole new world with endless possibilities. One of my first successful groups, Bhedam, came directly from the programme, gave us recognition in the jazz field in the early stages of our career.
At this moment I can say that there are very few rhythmical challenges that I cannot grasp in my current professional life. I will always have a method to work on it. But, later on, I discovered it was not only about the complex irregular structures. While working on this I achieved a very strong inner pulse and ability to feel subdivisions of the beat.  I benefit from this with every note I play.
I became a very all-round player for a big part because of the Advancced Rhythm programme. Because of this I played with artists such as Aka Moon, Simon Phillips, Terry Bozzio, Octurn, Nelson Veras, Oene van Geel and many others. I also played with ensembles and orchestras such as New York Philharmonic, KCO and the BBC philharmonic. I think I can safely assume this would not have happened if I didn’t get involved with Rafael Reina’s course back in 1998. I will always be thankful for this.

Peter Wiegold, composer, conductor, former professor at Brunel University (London)

"This 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."

Andys Skordis, composer

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.

Sander Notenbaert, composer and teacher of Ableton software  at the Amsterdam Conservatory

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

Sven Hochseit, percussionist and winner of prestigious awards for percussionists

Xenakis' Rebonds has been a part of my artistic output for some time now and I have found that each time I look at it, I find new things in it. When I started my master’s degree in classical percussion at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, I chose to specialise in Carnatic rhythmic techniques. In this program, (led by Dr. Rafael Reina), I learned about a technique called Jathi Bhedam. Through this concept, I started to look at Rebonds differently and, inspired by the Carnatic ideas, found a new way to interpret the score. I was always intrigued by the way  Xenakis notated Rebonds with conventional notation and I was wondering why he chose to keep a meter of 4/4 throughout the entire piece. Through the confrontation with Carnatic music, I started to experiment with the idea that maybe there would be another way to notate Rebonds, to make the musical meaning more apparent. In the programme at the Conservatorium, we learn to apply Carnatic concepts onto Western Contemporary Music. Very often, we are confronted with complex musical material of Western composers that is hard to understand because of the nature of how it is notated and we use the advanced knowledge of Carnatic music to find a way to write down complex rhythmical structures in a more understandable way.
With all this in mind, I set myself to identify the musical meaning of the notes that Xenakis wrote and to find a notation fit to indicate to the reader of the score what the intention of the notes is. Even though I am convinced that my findings are very close to the truth, I, in no way, claim that this is the only way  to interpret Rebonds. I do not argue that the notation of Xenakis is wrong, I merely provide an alternative to his original notation. 
This research has been a very revealing experience to me in many ways. I have learned a great deal of things about music, Xenakis and surprisingly also about myself.  My engagement with karnatic concepts through the programme 'Applications of Karnatic rhythm to Contemporary music' has inspired me to think in ways that are outside of traditional western music history. Rafael Reina has led me to understand certain aspects and concepts of indian music that convinced me that there must be a way to understand western contemporary music from a different standpoint, one that is maybe not inherent. The mind of composers is always a step or two ahead of the abilities of listeners and performers and I think that, with the help and inspiration of Rafael Reina, I have discovered something that is one part of the truth.

Danai Belonisof, composer

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.

Pedro Silva, sax player

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.

Riccardo Nova, composer

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.

Max Villavecchia, composer and improviser

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.


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.

David de Marez Oyens, review in 'De Bassist Magazine'

"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."

Mariana Preda, Panflute Player

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.

Aleksandar Grujic, composer and improviser

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.

Tobias Klein, composer & improviser. Sax & Clarinet

Having been a student in Rafael Reina's Advanced Rhythm programme from 1998 to 2003, Karnatic rhythmical techniques have influenced and informed my work as an improviser and composer in many ways and in various settings. Following the programme taught by Rafael Reina and Jos Zwaanenburg, and performing, recording and touring with musicians like B.C. Manjunath and Dr. Mysore Manjunath, has been an indispensable source of ideas and inspiration for me.


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.

This university is the only one outside India where it is possible to study that music field.
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!