Matt Stonehouse is a Melbourne based musician, composer and instrument maker currently living on the Dunmoochin artist colony in Cottles Bridge, Victoria, as an artist-in- residence. He is Australia’s foremost percussionist of Arabic and Turkish styles of drumming and is featured on more than forty albums of both local and international artists. In addition to percussion, Matt is a highly regarded guitarist, mandolin and mandocello player and uses these instruments when composing. This can be heard on his 2016 vinyl album release, ‘Rosie’s point of view.‘
During 2001-2003 Matt undertook the first of four study trips to Turkey and spent an additional three months in Isfahan, Iran studying with two master musicians- Sara Fotros and Feridoun Farahani. He also studied under Spanish frame drummer Javier Morielis whilst based in Scotland. In 2010 he studied Daholla (goblet shaped drum) with Ercin Kacaimamoglu in Istanbul.
Matt is the author of the book ‘Percussion of the Arabic world and beyond.‘ It was the books popularity that was the impetus for creating the ‘fingers of fury‘ online drumming school/community. This online school was a training ground for hundreds of percussion students and professional musicians from all over the world including the Middle East. The website boasts almost two hundred tutorial videos and short courses in both Arabic and Turkish style drumming and challenges the way students structure their practice routines. Today, the website serves more as a resource than the once, active community hub.
In 2010, Matt directed and produced his first feature length documentary, ‘The Rhythmic East.‘ This self funded film crew travelled through Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Greece filming and collaborating with local musicians from each region. The film gained three international film festival official screenings.
His recording credits as percussionist are both impressive and extensive. Internationally notable artists he has performed/ recorded with include- The Ross Daly quartet (Crete), The Tea Party (Canada), Coleman Barks (USA). In Australia his credits include the ARIA nominated album ‘Empires‘ by Latitude 37, Bashka, Mista Savona, Alwan, The Reefers. Matt has performed at music festivals such as Womadelaide, Cygnet, The National, Port Fairy and many others around Australia. Since 2013 Matt has been featured percussionist with Amanaska, a popular group touring Australian schools through the Musica Viva! in schools program. Amanaska has inspired thousands of primary level students across Australia by sharing their passion for playing music.
In 2014 Matt returned to his love for composition which resulted in the 2016 release of ‘Rosie’s point of view.‘ This album, released on vinyl, featured seven original instrumental tracks played predominantly on mandocello, mandolin and frame drums. Synthesizers were later added by producer Chris Toro. The album was well received by reviewers and hailed as “a quintessentially Australian album” and likened to Pat Metheny’s electric counterpoint by Australian Hi Fi magazine.
In 2015 Matt was awarded an artist in residence at the renowned Dunmoochin artist colony in Cottles Bridge, Victoria. Dunmoochin was established by the famous Australian portrait and landscape painter, Clifton Pugh in the mid 50’s and has been home to many celebrated artists such as Rick Amor and John Olsen since. Matt was offered the residency as a composer and then later offered an extension as an instrument maker. In late 2014 he begun part-time fine furniture studies at the Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking with Alastair Boell, later incorporating these techniques into the crafting of frame drums.
In June 2017, he had his first exhibition under the 'Steam and Lumber' label at Dunmoochin's long gallery showcasing fine furniture pieces, a set of eight Egyptian ‘Tar‘ frame drums and two Moroccan ‘Bendir’ drums. His aim is to craft a large tunable set of frame drums for an ensemble of twenty five drummers. These drums will be tunable thus allowing for the exploration of melodies found within the cross rhythms played by the ensemble. This will be the only ensemble of its kind and Australia’s first complete set of frame drums.
Matt is currently an artist in resident at the Montsalvat artists colony in Eltham, Victoria. Under the name of 'Steam and Lumber' he is specialising in traditional and modern frame drum design.