Persona Digital Persona Digital

New Music

Tribal Techno

Human societies follow a dialectic path with advances and regressions, sometimes occurring together in a confusing contradictory way. The obvious features of pop music in the first decade of the 21st century involves dancing, sexual movements, and costumes that range from the sublime to the ridiculous. Some rock musicians combine hair arrangements, tattoos and costumes that blend the appearance and behaviors of Ancient Africans with American Indians. To a visiting anthropologist, the linking of these expressions suggests an atavistic revival of ancient human celebrations simulated by a kick drum in 4/4 time and a deep bass drone to keep the audience in a frenzied state. Other "rock" music heads for sadomasochistic frenzy, anger and simulations of brutality that are intended to be grotesque. Music? No way. Primitive? Yes. This is old human behavior dating back thousands of years.

I came to British Columbia and settled on Texada Island in 1971 to be the island physician and to enjoy living closer to nature. Texada was an industrial island on its northern tip with an iron mine and three limestone quarries. Logging and fishing had been important industries. There were two villages, Vananda and Gillies Bay that housed most of the working population and the remainder of the island was forest and mountainous terrain. When I arrived, there was a squatter’s settlement in Davie Bay several kilometers out of the village of Gilles Bay where I lived. A group of American draft dodgers and young Canadian adventurers shared Davie Bay a forest with seaside property owned by the Ocean Cement company who tolerated their presence. There were many interesting characters in the group with different levels of settlement from tents, VW vans to improvised driftwood dwellings. Ilmars was one of the squatters who became my friend. When I first knew him, he lived on the beach with an attractive Danish woman and her 2 year old son. Together, they were Adam and Eve, two young and healthy humans enjoying the fruits of summer in a natural paradise. Ilmars took to the forest and beach like a native human with hundreds of thousands of years of survival experience. One of his special abilities was drumming. He had made a large congo drum with a stretched deer skin on a tapered wooden barrel and could play for hours. His drumming was hypnotic and soothing. With his help, I made a similar drum and joined him and others for drumming sessions, beach fires and a new sense, for me, of tribal membership. For many years I would participate in beach gatherings that featured drumming, dancing and music performances that continued to develop a wonderful sense of group identity.

I was reminded of those days when I read an account of the Shambhala Music Festival that began as a local party, expanding by word of mouth into an annual festival on a 500-acre cattle ranch in British Columbia's Kootenay region. MacCuish described the curious collision of primitive behaviors with modern technology: "The festival features mostly electronic artists and DJ's, though you'll find live bands at stages like the Rock Pit. The Village stage features a 100,000 watt system that pumps out drum and bass, dubstep and glitch hop throughout the festival. Nearly every genre of electronic music is represented, from funk to psy-trance, breaks to beat boxing."

Shambala Music

The Village Stage at Shambhala Music Festival. Photo Rikki MacCuish.

  • The idea of "new" has to be updated continuously. Someone many years ago decided that modern had ended, referring to "postmodern" architecture, art and music. But the term modern, like new, properly used, describes a continuously advancing wave of events that must be updated continuously. 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 were different schools of progressive music. Composers of symphonic works dabbled in new scales and dissonances; audiences expecting more Mozart and Beethoven were not pleased. Similar notions of scale experimentation emerged in modern jazz. As synthesizers evolved along with computer composition (sequencers) all possibilities became possible.

    Music styles have interbred and proliferated beyond anyone's ability to classify and defend musical styles in a meaningful way. The proliferation of styles is supported by the internet and unprecedented music distribution network that erases many boundaries and permits aspiring musician to seek direct access to audiences. The results are often far from good music as rhythmic noise competes with thoughtful compositions.

    Persona Music Recordings: Our Music Catalogue includes recorded performances under the titles Persona Digital, P2500 Band, Em4U, and the Persona Classical Consort. 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.

    The Sound of Music by Stephen Gislason

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    Persona Digital Books

    Persona Digital publishes a series of books on current topics in music, psychology, neuroscience and philosophy. eBooks and can be downloaded to any destination on the planet.  eBooks can be quickly downloaded at reduced cost as PDF files.

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    Human Nature
    The Good Person
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    I and Thou
    Emotions & Feelings
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    Persona Digital

    Persona Digital Studio is located on the Pacific Coast, Sechelt, British Columbia, Canada.

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