"I love that word ‘jazz,’ man. Jazz is a beautiful word. I connect jazz not with what’s happening today in America so much as when I was young and listened to Ellington, Miles Davis, Bird, Dizzy Gillespie: how beautiful music was then and how exciting music was then. That’s what I connect myself with.” Joe Zawinul
I have eclectic musical interests, but the rhythms, ideas and complexity of jazz dominates my music. Some will say that jazz is performance music, that demands novel improvisations from skilled performers. Others will emphasis jazz traditions and perform standards that recall the history of jazz. Since I am studio musician, I enjoy the privilege of private improvisations, thoughtful reflection on the structure and meaning of jazz forms and ample opportunity to score, edit and refine jazz performances before they become a public spectacle. The passionate energy of some jazz pieces has been, for me, healing music supplying energy that pushed and pulled me through hard times.
Jazz became intellectual music but originated as dance music played by black musicians in New Orleans. Jass referred to sex and the rhythmic dances in the black community were sensual and erotic. Original jazz was band music for dancing, street parades and funerals. Jazz bands featured brass instruments, drums, and woodwinds. The favored brass were coronets and trombones. Pianos, guitars and banjos added ethnic flavors to the Creole bands who played rhythmic, complex arrangements with brief improvisatory breaks.
From the Sound of Music by Stephen Gislason
I suggest that the complete works of JS Bach represent an almost comprehensive collection of musical concepts, melodies and moving harmonic structures. If you approach his music, as I do, with approprite reverance, but also with his innovative, improvisatory spirit, then you can select jewels from the collection and present them in new settings.Today I posted Bach Jazz B3 as an example. I wonder if anyone can identify the original source?
I have been writing about Fusion Jazz and reviewed different definitions that have been suggested for deciding whether or not a composition or performance is Jazz.Just looking at musical content, jazz involves greater understanding of musical structures and more skill in performance than pop music.Some of the innovations involve modal scales and atonality. A trend away from tonal, diatonic Jazz, to modal scales and atonal improvisation developed with Miles Davis and John Coltrane acting as explorers, not always with the approval of their fans. Atonal composition was earlier pioneeed by symphonic composers such as Schoenberg and Berg who were often rejected by classical music traditionalists. Jazz pianist, George Russell published the Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization in 1953. Russell replaced major and minor keys with modal scales as a basis for improvisation. Miles Davis adopted Russell's approach, calling chord-laden compositions "thick. The new Davis improvisations featured rapid modal scales played against sparse chord changes. The Miles album Kind of Blue (1959) has been described as the "greatest jazz album of all time." Pianists Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly, drummer Jimmy Cobb, bassist Paul Chambers, and saxophonists John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley all contributed to tunes based on modal scales. Davis gave the players scales just before their performances to guide their improvisations. Davis described his musical theory: "No chords gives you more freedom and space to hear things. When you go this way, you can go on forever. You don't have to worry about changes. It becomes a challenge to see how melodically innovative you can be. When you're based on chords, you know at the end of 32 bars that the chords have run out and there's nothing to do but repeat what you've just done—with variations. I think a movement in jazz is beginning away from the conventional string of chords... there will be fewer chords but infinite possibilities as to what to do with them." Bill Evans described the structure of "So What" based on two scales: sixteen measures of the first, followed by eight measures of the second, and then eight again of the first. "Freddie Freeloader" uses a twelve bar blues form. "Blue in Green" consists of a ten-measure cycle following a short four-measure introduction. "All Blues" is a twelve bar blues form in 6/8 time. "Flamenco Sketches" consists of five scales, which are each played "as long as the soloist wishes until he has completed the series. From the Music Notes (a work in progress) by Stephen Gislason
Fusion Jazz My interest in Jazz really begins with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. I have followed a meandering path from their bebop innovations through Miles Davis, cool jazz, and modal jazz. The 1968 album “Miles in the Sky” introduced Herbie Hancock playing electric piano and Carter playing bass guitar. In 1969, electronic instruments dominated the next album “In a Silent Way”, an innovative fusion album. The musicians who played with Miles often continued to develop fusions styles. 1970’s fusion bands originated with Miles Davis alumni: Tony Williams Lifetime, Weather Report, McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra, Corea's Return to Forever, and Herbie Hancock's Headhunters band. Herbie Hancock was one of the first jazz keyboardists to use synthesizers. Funk jazz emerged in his albums, Head Hunters 1973 and Thrust in 1974. Weather Report, featuring Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter developed world music fusion jazz. Jaco Pastorius, the electric bass player, went on to great fame and a tragic death in 1987. Chick Corea, another of the great keyboardists, founded the band Return to Forever in 1972 with latin-influenced music. The band soon evolved into a jazz-rock band. John McLaughlin was influenced by his guru, Sri Chinmoy and created the Mahavishnu Orchestra that merged psychedelic rock with Indian music. Carlos Santana’s band blended Latin salsa, rock, blues, and jazz. Pat Metheny started a fusion band in 1977 that produced popular recordings that made both jazz and pop charts. Cool jazz groups such as Dave Sanborn's bands and the Ripping tons become popular with more melodic pieces that appealed to listeners at home. Marcus Miller, the multitalentep musicians' musician collaborated with Miles Davis, Played with Jacob Pastorius and carried forward a brilliant style of bass guitar playing, turning the bass into a versatile solo instrument. The label fusion still appeals to me very much. Fusion describes the merging of different musical styles and intentions. In the best case, Fusion is an open door to all music traditions everywhere to merge with novel, exciting creativity. Fusion is not always an easy path to follow. Musicians who are well established in one musical genre usually face criticism and degrees of rejection when they move in another direction. Dizzie Gillespie and Charlie Parker were criticized by fellow jazz musicians for their new jazz style "Bebop." Miles Davis also faced criticism as he moved from more "traditional jazz" into continuously evolving styles that incorporated world music and at times came perilously close to rock and roll. Davis attracted the best musicians available so that innovation was an eclectic group effort. I have arranged and recorded tunes made famous by several of the fusion jazz musicians. Tutu is a Marcus Miller/ Davis piece. Today I am adding another Marcus Miller tune Snakes to my song list. I have treated snakes as one of my anthem pieces, developing an energetic, big band style arrangement with my Flugelhorn as a solo instrument. Snakes in this version is a description of the state of the human world. I have the idea on someone asking me what I think about the state of the world. I cannot speak. When I open my mouth, out comes Snakes.
Under the title of Em4U, we are exploring the best features of advanced electronic music production. The old category "Electronica" is really obsolete since all recorded music is electronic and performance instruments in all popular genres are now electronic. In the good old days when acoustic instruments were in still commonly used, electronic sound production was experimental and intellectual. Progressive universities developed electronic music laboratories and computer geeks collaborated in new ways of music creation. We think that 21st century musicians should be schooled in acoustic physics, psychoacoustics, and studio technologies. Advanced 21st century musicians should be required to take an oath " I will never produce noise". Our first listing on the Reverb Nation player is Sumala Siam , inspired by the classical dance music of Siam (Thailand).
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 would are educated in philosophy, arts 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 old and familiar tunes. The term "new music" is most often used to refer to new releases of existing musical styles and not to music that is truly innovative. You might notice that almost all these new releases are covers of old tunes or variations, interpretations, and imitations. 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. For a time 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. 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 you asked me, if you were appointed God of music, how you change the course of musical history? And I would admit that I don't know. 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. I have no desire to become a repressive authority. As in all matters human, idealistic goals are seldom achieved. Beauty and truth are achieved only for brief moments.
Many music categories became obsolete by the end of the 20th century. Music styles interbred and proliferated beyond anyone's ability to classify and defend musical styles in a meaningful way. Humans like to categorize everything. The history of music follows the same path as the history of all art and science. Categories emerge as cognitive boxes, aka musical styles, which contain and restrain composers, players and audiences. Often a music style is fiercely defended and innovators suffer a great deal when they attempt to lead others out the box. Exotic innovations are attractive to some and resisted by others. In my book Neuroscience Notes, I introduce the concept of cognitive boxes: "To make sense of how humans operate, you have to look closely about how individuals learn, how they depend on local groups for guidance and support and how they organize cognitive structures. You have to understand the differences among cognitive categories such as knowledge, facts, opinions and beliefs. Intelligence is an important variable in determining the size and variety of cognitive boxes. Some smart people acquire a lot of knowledge and skills and can move easily from one cognitive contained to another. Others have a limited number of containers and have difficulty moving from one to another. " You could argue that this is good -- musical styles should be proliferating and evolving. Or you might value tradition over innovation and argue that styles should have well defined boundaries that players respect and audiences rely on. 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. Jon Pareles described some of 1,100 bands that performed in Manhattan and Brooklyn during CMJ’s 2008 version of their annual showcase of independent music. He suggested that the music business was in bewilderment and disarray while musicians’ compulsion to create and perform was alive and well, despite no assurance of a career. “It’s a great moment for musicians who want to be heard and a difficult one for musicians who need to be paid.” See CMJ Marathon. Fame, Yes; Fortune, Not So Much. New York Times October 27, 2008 Music, journalist, Adrian Mack, had this to say: "We all have our crosses to bear. When you're in a band (and who isn't these days?) dealing with the classification of your music becomes a full-time pain in the arse. People, and journalists, and music journalists especially, require shortcuts in their thinking, and as the band member, you have to provide those for them. That's not a complaint; it's just the way it is. When you're a journalist writing about music for a limited amount of print space or a limited amount of reader patience, the model is to apply a quick classification to your subject, whip up a good comparison or two (I tend to stick to the '70s), and then top it off with a bunch of hooey designed to persuade the reader that not only have you developed a profound sensitivity to the endless mysteries of popular music, but you are also on drugs. When you're both musician and a music journalist, the strain of dealing with this nonsense really starts to show." Adrian Mack. Music writing is a crazy game. How they're winning. March 2008 Stephen Gislason April 2009
Music Notes The sense of musical beauty is elusive and does not require complexity or even great skill, although beautiful music is more likely to occur when the composer and performers are accomplished and devoted to their art. Some music is spontaneous and easy to make. A folk singer may be quite charming, strumming simple chords on a guitar, singing a plain song in a spontaneous and undisciplined manner. Other music requires years of disciplined study and practice and involves complex concepts and notation systems. Musical expression begins with and is usually associated with body movement. Music begins with rhythm, repeated vocal sounds and stylized body movements. Dance is an elaboration of gestures and body movements associated with both performing and enjoying music. Children will spontaneously dance and sing and raise their arms above their head and sway from side to side creating a momentary ecstasy that is repeated at all ages and many difference contexts from temples to discotheques. Musical instruments are variations on tools used for other purposes and all you need to begin a music composition is your own voice and body movements. Rhythm is essential to music and originates in nature before and aside from musical sounds. A musical phrase obtains meaning when it finds a compatible brain receptor and activates an emotional or behavior response. Humans respond emotionally to music and experience a range of emotions from elation to despair. Musical information consists of pitch, loudness, timbre, location, and movement of the sound source. A combination of sounds of different pitches produces harmony and a sequence of pitches becomes melody. Timbre describes the harmonics in a sound that give it recognizable qualities. A range of timbres in human voices provides for the sound identification of individuals. You can identify who is talking from voice timbre and intonation, just as you can identify a trumpet, an oboe or a violin. Formal music is assembled into language-equivalent structures, suggesting phonemes, syntax and semantics. The piano is the reference instrument; its keyboard represents a standard for the pitch meaning of each note. Scales are standard sequences of intervals that are used in orchestral and popular music. The Greek philosopher, Pythagoras, determined that if you divided a vibrating string in half, you would hear an octave at double the fundamental vibration frequency. The octave interval sounds like the same note is being played, but at a higher pitch. If you invent an instrument with Pythagorean tuning, fixed intervals in the high and low range do not sound the same because the brain follows a logarithmic progression rather than an arithmetic progression. Since we hear intervals differently as the pitch increases, a well-tempered tuning has been adopted that adjusts the pitch difference of intervals, which decrease as the pitch increases. While classical music written in Europe is appreciated as high art and performed by skilled musicians, musical styles and forms in the 20th century proliferated and incorporated sounds from all over the planet. At the same time electronics advanced so that recorded music became the most popular way to experience music. The science and technology of sound physics and the neuroscience of sound perception advanced remarkably. I have enjoyed many different expressions of this technology and continue to learn about sound synthesis, instrument modelling, recording and editing sound. All these activities inform about the way our brain processes sound. The main distinction in the world of sound is between music which is intelligent and pleasing and noise which is neither.
Persona Digital Studios Music Projects Stephen Gislason and the Trinity P2500 Band The Trinity P 2500 band members are different aspect of Stephen's personality working with his favorite music workstations. Stephen played piano and trumpter at an early age.His trumpet playing is often featured in the arrangements available online. He tends to use a Flugelhorn patch on the Trinity and an flugehorn-like brass patch on the proteus 2500, derived from an Oberheim Matrix sample. The Trinity is a Korg synthesizer, music station, which Stephen acquired in 1996 when it first became available. The Trinity became a highly regarded professional instrument. Stephen states "It was love a first sight and listen for me. We bonded and for several years all my music came from the Trinity." The EMU Proteus 2500 is another music synthesizer, workstation that represents a highly evolved, excellent example of electronic engineering, sound sampling and musical sophistication. The sounds are often quite different from the Trinity as is the approach to synthesis. Stephen admits that the Proteus 2500 has become his second favorite and he often neglects the Trinity. By using the complete spectrum of instruments in both workstations he has the best of both worlds, hence the Trinity P2500 band. See our description online of Music Studio Technology
We make good music at Persons Digital Studios. We also like to discuss music, play with music theory and explore new ideas in music composition. We are attracted to music combines with creative video presentations. We have 25 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 and have generated a number of interesting psychoacoustic effects. See All About Sound See our arranging, mixing and mastering services. Here you can download our Music in the MP3 format. Some music is free to download; other selections provide low cost access to good music. Create a Persona account, add music selections to your shopping cart, checkout and start downloading. It's easy, fast and safe. Your email is your user ID.