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Stephen Gislason
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Topics from the book,
The Sound of Music


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New Music Century 21

The idea of "new" has to be updated continuously. You could argue that if it happened yesterday, it is already old. I often read people who are educated in art history and architecture who describe things happening now as "postmodern". Someone many years ago decided that modern had ended. But the term modern, like new,  properly used, describes a  continuously advancing wave of events that must be updated continuously. There really is no "postmodern" or "postnew."

In the history of music, each musical "genius" added his own innovations so that the ideas that drove musical composition progressed, despite the resistance of patrons and audiences. There has always been a battle between audiences who want more of the same and composers who were innovative. Many creative composers suffered repeated rejection and penury. In the 20th century tradition and innovation continued to compete. "New" acquired value as a marketing claim, but audiences paid increasing sums to attend concerts with expectation they would hear repetitions of old and familiar tunes. When the term "new music" is used to describe more repetitions of existing musical styles, music that is truly innovative is neglected. You might notice that almost all these new releases are covers of old tunes or variations, interpretations, and  imitations. Or, music is replaced by talking or shouting mixed with somewhat rhythmic noise. The tendency toward noise, moving away from music is apparent in popular music intended for teen-agers and young adults who tend to be rebellious, sometimes angry and tolerate noise better than older adults.  Intoxication with drugs can be added to the mix to assure that the participants are totally disconnected from any “reality” that more sober and reasonable citizens value.

Human societies follow a dialectic path with advances and regressions, sometimes occurring together in a confusing contradictory way.  The most obvious regression in pop music is back to frantic dancing, featuring the sexual movements of intercourse and costumes that range from the sublime to the ridiculous. These version of sexual dance, shouting, groaning and grimacing  require only a loud kick drum in 4/4 time and a deep bass drone  to keep the audience in a frenzied state. This is old human behavior dating back thousands of years.

In the past, music was referred to as an art form and musical artists were people who had practiced their craft for many years and excelled in their technical and expressive abilities. Classical musicians are polite, well groomed, well dressed people who bring skill and dignity to their performances. Many are university trained. But, now everyone with an electric guitar and amplifier is a musician, even an artist. Some punk rockers boast of their 3 chord vocabulary. With the loss of a tradition of credentials, talent and skill, music is truly egalitarian. Anarchy replaces order and noise is called "music". If your interest is primarily making rhythmic noise that sells, then you switch to rap, hip hop and erotic dance pop.

If you asked me how would you change the course of musical history?  My first impulse would be to restore credentials, ban noise and  reward only those who produce beautiful sounds that made everyone feel happy and well. But then I would realize that creativity in music and all other human activities has been banned or punished by authorities who resisted change. As in all matters human, idealistic goals are seldom achieved. Beauty and truth are achieved only for brief moments andr rarely appear on MTV.

I will consider a variety of ideas for new music in the 21st century and offer some examples as new music emerges in my studio. I have experimented with sound production, algorithmic composition, and every strategy that has emerged to enable beginners and experts alike to assemble sounds in ways that seem meaningful to them.  I have been interested in hypnotic sounds, cool jazz, trance dance, chill, new age soothing music, and  minimalist composers such as Philip Glass.  A meaningful inquiry into the possibilities for authentic new music  will involve philosophy, neuroscience, acoustic science, technology, and an understanding of human nature.

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Em4U

New Age 1970

We Seek Audiophile Perfection  We make great music at Persona Digital Studios. We have many years of experience with computer based sound recording and enjoy technology shop talk. We also have a well developed interest in how our brains process sounds. Our in house music production creates audiophile quality recordings presented as CD's, DVDs, singles and albums for Download.  Music Downloads are albums, packaged as MP3 files in a zip folder. Download  the zip folder and save.  In Windows, click on the folder and choose the extract all option to unzip the files to your hard drive. The MP3 files will play on all computers, laptops, notebooks, smart phones, iPods,. iPads, CD and DVD players and all portable music players. Some albums contain liner notes or minibooks as PDF files that introduce the music. More About Downloads.

Topics presented at Persona Digital Studio are from the book, The Sound of Music by Stephen Gislason.
Click the Download button to order the eBook from Persona Digital Online. 

Persona Digital Studio is located on the Sunshine Coast, Sechelt, British Columbia, Canada.
 www.personadigitalstudio.com  email  music@personadigitalstudio.com.
Our Music Catalogue includes recorded performances by the P2500 Band, Em4U, and the Persona Classical Consort.
Music downloads and books are available from our companion website: Persona Digital Online.  

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