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."
The Village Stage at Shambhala Music Festival. Photo Rikki MacCuish.
Accessed online Oct 2010.
Music emerged along with dance – rhythmic body movements that expressed
emotion, displayed sexuality and enhanced group cohesion. Birds and animals
dance, often in courtship rituals, sometimes in ritualized aggressive-defensive
displays. Sitting in a chair to listen to music and to watch dance performance
is a recent aberration that denies the group-music-dance connections.
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.
Topics presented at Persona Digital Studio are from the
The Sound of Music by
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