Music

I come from a musical family. My mom is a piano teacher, my brother Aaron is a jazz saxaphonist, and my brother Adam creates a lot of electronic music. (Dad brings other things to the family. The legend goes that upon hearing him sing to me as a baby, my mom begged him to stop, citing the idea that he’d ruin my ear. Sorry Dad!) When I was a kid, I promised my mom that I would “never grow up to play the piano and bake cookies like you do”. Joke’s on me. My cookies are a big hit.

But seriously folks, I majored in composition, with an emphasis in music technology. My principle instrument is piano, but I play a lot of (bad) guitar and can handle several other instruments as well. Mainly, however (at least as far as audio goes), I’m a composer and digital audio artist. (That music tech major means I know all about synthesizers, music synthesis in general, and sound engineering.)

Over the past several years, other media (painting, photography, etc.) have been taking center stage while music has fallen a bit into the background. Several years ago I bought myself a 73-key, 1979 Fender Rhodes for my birthday (with vibrato!), so I play all the time, but haven’t been composing much. The exception to all of this is the analytics audio research I’ve dnoe, though I don’t know if I’d qualify it as music yet. The post explains everything, but the basic idea is to see what I can hear that I can’t see from the numbers alone.

These are fliers (flyers?) from my major recitals in college:

Oh yeah–I had really long hair back then. And I wore Birkenstocks. And overalls. What can I say, it was Montana…

These are mostly pretty old, but still relevant to my artistic expression, I’d say.

  • The Exodus Generation
    This piece is in the same vein as Glenn Gould’s “contrapuntal radio” pieces. It was originally conceived and mixed for a quadraphonic environment. None of the text was scripted; I conducted, transcribed, and edited interviews with each character. I performed and recorded the Bach a minor prelude from WTC II and created the background sounds on an analog synth.
  • First Experiment in Accidental Music
    One summer when I was stuck without a piano for a few months, I took up painting as an artistic outlet (you can see some of my paintings here). This piece was composed by splattering paint on staff paper and then transcribing the dots.
  • Eleven Feet
    This is an excerpt from some dance music in 11/8.
  • (Excerpt) Bach Concerto in d minor (fast movement)
    I sequenced the orchestra parts for synthesizer and then performed along with the recording. This was part of my senior recital of composition, music technology, and piano performance when I graduated from college.
  • (Excerpt) Bach Concerto in d minor (slow movement)
    An excerpt from the slow movement of the above concerto.
  • Too Close to be Strangers
    Just a simple blues with a little country influence. The recording is really raw (just me and my guitar, recorded from my iBook’s internal mic…) but isn’t blues supposed to be that way?

I’ve also worked on translating web analytics data into audio as a method of data analysis. Since people do things in weekly patterns, analytics data often turns into a periodic waveform. If you can get hourly data, even better–daily periodic waveforms on top of the weekly periodic waveforms. Guess what music is? Periodic waveforms. Just take a look at an audio file in any audio editor and you’ll see that if you zoom in enough, some similarities start to show up with the graphs you’re used to seeing in your analytics dashboard. What if we could listen to analytics data? What would it sound like? Would our ears be able to get something out of it that our eyes don’t? Would it be useful? What data should we feed it? I asked my brother Adam, who is truly a rock star among nerds, to help me out with a little application that could convert CSV files into WAV files. That way I can rock and roll all over Excel and then listen up.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *