Persona Classical Persona Digital

Classical Music

Counterpoint for Genius

My Counterpoint for Genius series is a collection of four albums that has evolved over several years though experimentation with a number of transcriptions of Bach pieces, many from the religious Cantatas, mixed with different voicing and, different tempos and transpositions. Mozart has received the most attention as the composer of smart music. Bach excels. I realized that many of the Bach pieces I recorded were among the best examples of contrapuntal composition and that counterpoint was the perfect brain exercise

I am often amazed by how many notes in interweaving layers my brain is willing to decipher. If the notes form interesting patterns and move in space, then they remain fresh and invigorating. I the early days of my experimentation with synthesizers, I encountered patterns of sound that produce meditative experiences, acoustic illusions, mind clearing, and some very annoying experiences. At the same time I was experimenting with brain biofeedback using sound to reveal brain waves. The basic idea was that amplified brain waves could be evaluated by frequency and amplitude, desirable goals established and a sound signal would inform the subject when his or her brain waves were in the desired range. The most common goal was to achieve slow, symmetrical sine waves from each cerebral hemisphere; the frequency range of about 8 to 12 hertz was called alpha.

While repetition is good, too much can become annoying. Small variations in a repeating pattern will avoid habituation and annoyance. The occasional, surprising sound will awaken new interest. Complex staccato passages with precise but low amplitude sounds are followed closely by the temporal cortex.

JS BachMy Bach project shifted toward brain exercises for Geniuses (Counterpoint for Genius). I now believe that the textured complexity of counterpoint can be a delight for a receptive listener and also a useful way to exercise some of the more complex computational centers in the brain. My strategy is to keep the individual voices clear so the layered, interwoven texture of the music is as distinct as possible. I also pay much attention to leaving silent spaces in the interstices since I discovered many years ago that increased sound density was harmful rather than helpful.


The Counterpoint for Genius series is a collection of four albums.

Counterpoint for Genius Volume 1

Counterpoint for Genius Volume 2

Counterpoint for Genius Volume 3

Counterpoint for Genius Volume 4

Digital Bach for the 21 Century A Persona Digital Studio Production

Here are two pieces from the Counterpoint for Genius Series

BWV 1043-3

Cantata BWV26-2

Stephen Gislason Arranger & Performer

  • Persona Music Recordings: Our Music Catalogue includes recorded performances under the titles Persona Digital, P2500 Band, Em4U, and the Persona Classical Consort. The focus of Persona Classical is the creation of digital performances of pieces by J.S. Bach. Other performances include pieces by Mozart, Pachabel and Debussy.

  • Music online is offered to illustrate music history, advance music education and appreciation. The recordings presented online demonstrate Persona Studio's arranging, recording and mastering techniques. All the recordings are arrangements and performances completed in house by Stephen Gislason. The music selections and their history are explained in the book, Sound of Music.

    Topics presented at Persona Digital Studio are from the
    The Sound of Music by Stephen Gislason

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