Markus Ketola (b. 1968) began studying music seriously in the early 1980s. In addition to his main instrument, drums, he studied classical percussion while working in miscellaneous dance floor combos, musicals and theatre orchestras. Since 1993 Ketola has played in the ranks of the prestigious UMO Jazz Orchestra, appearing in concert with numerous top soloists and leaders, such as Michael Brecker, John Scofield, Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman, Kenny Wheeler and Mercer Ellington. Ketola has also performed in various big band backing sections, such as the NDR Big Band (Hamburg, Germany), Norrbotten Big Band (Luleå, Sweden) and European Broadcasting Union Big Band. Beside the big band league, he has had lots of renowned small ensembles, latest with legendary American tenor saxophonist Lenny Pickett, French bass player Dominique DiPiazza and Swedish guitar player Max Schulz.
As a composer, Ketola is interested in building up a musical environment, which is more than the sum of its parts. His pieces construct of carefully progressing harmonies and delicate melodies. As a rhythmic specialist, he leaves enough room for the drums and gives also melodic parts to percussive instruments. Ketola's first solo album Tila (Lake End 1998), received critical acclaim and was chosen for the "Jazz Album of the Year" in Finland.
Markus Ketola is a 1998 graduate of the Sibelius Academy Jazz Department. In 2007 he delivered his dissertation on "The Effect of Harmony on Rhythm and Drumming" and received the degree of Doctor of Music.
Harmonic tensions and releases, as well as their ensuing feeling of forward motion, inspire drumming and rhythm. In my written work I analyzed the characteristics of tonal and modal harmony, as well as their relationship to rhythm and drumming. The main questions are: What is meant by "harmonic motion"? What factors create the tensions and releases in tonal and modal harmonies? What kind of a structural factor is harmony and how does it influence rhythm and drumming?
In the written work, the analysis materials used to examine the interaction between tonal and modal harmony, as well as rhythm, focus on the jazz music of the late 1950s and early 1960s; drumming and the entire ensemble timbre underwent dramatic transformations and a harmonic renewal was one of the most significant contributing factors. By the late 1950s, challenging tonal chord structures and fast-paced harmonic rhythms were seen as factors that limited improvisation and interpretive possibilities; consequently there began a parallel search for more open forms that supported interpretation and interaction. The onset of modality in the late 1950s and early 1960s significantly affected harmonic rhythms, the deceleration of which created a new fresh environment for improvisation and collective interaction in which the role of the drummer became increasingly significant with respect to an ensemble's overall timbre.
Based on the analyses performed and concert entities, it becomes apparent that the drummer must perceive harmony primarily as the effects impelling forward motion, such as the tonic and dominant, or the effects matching their characteristics. From the drummer's perspective tonal and modal harmonies can therefore be generally divided into two emotional categories: repose and tension. Based on the effects describing motion, harmony can thus be examined as a broader horizontal entity and the most essential information controlling the shape is conveyed more clearly. In this fashion the drummer can react specifically to the structural turning points that enhance the interaction between rhythm and harmony, as well as the feeling of forward motion.