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Ken Shorley

Ken focuses primarily on the drumming styles and rhythmic traditions of India and the Middle East, with additional exploration into West African music. He performs on a wide variety of drums - especially the Turkish darabuka, the Nigerian udu, the Arabic riq, the South Indian kanjira, and the North Indian tabla.
Like many Canadian percussionists, Ken studied intensively with the master South Indian musician Trichy Sankaran. As well, he has a background in European orchestral percussion, and is deeply obsessed with gongs, bells, cymbals and other resonant metallic sounds.
A strong improviser who has never met a time signature he doesn't like, Ken most enjoys exploring subdivision, cross-rhythm, texture and well-placed silence. Ken's compositional style is direct, lyrical and uncluttered. Blending influences from European, Indian, Arabic and African music, Ken strives to create music which balances emotive modal melody with strong rhythmic propulsion.

He has composed works for orchestra, choir, mixed chamber ensembles, world-jazz groups, and percussion of many varieties. His two favourite ensembles to write for are the percussion ensemble and the string quartet.

Since 1998, he has been the resident composer and sound designer for Willpower Theatre. He has also composed for the Acadia Theatre Company and Festival Antigonish. Ken enjoys the interactive, creative process involved in composing music for film and stage, and welcomes the opportunity for future collaborations.
In recent years, Ken's music has been performed by the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra, the Blue Engine String Quartet, mezzo-soprano Paula Rockwell, the Acadia University Percussion Ensemble, and the Indo-fusion group Trichy's Trio.

Ken is a generous and patient teacher who treats every student as an individual. He believes that developing strong listening skills is equally as important as developing good technique.

Since 1998, Ken has been an instructor in percussion and world music at Acadia University in Nova Scotia. He is the director of the Acadia Percussion Ensemble, and he offers the only university credit course in world drumming in Atlantic Canada.

His 50-minute "show-and-tell" solo presentation, Exploring the Drum, has been presented to enthusiastic audiences in many schools and music camps in Nova Scotia.

In addition to offering hands-on training in percussion and hand drumming, Ken encourages his students to explore improvisation and composition, and to focus on the study of rhythm itself - pulsation, metre, grouping, subdivision, and cross-rhythm - in order to develop a more focused awareness of musical time.

His own continuing quest for knowledge fuels his teaching. Research interests include the cultural connections between India and Europe, as well as the development of an online encyclopedia of world rhythm resources.

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