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.
My 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.
Cantatas are long pieces with many distinct sections. Only some sections display
counterpoint, others employ melody and harmony without the formal dynamics of
The Counterpoint for Genius series is a collection of
Here are two pieces from the Counterpoint for Genius
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, Pachelbel and
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