Update: The Past Year

July 4, 2022
Electric Miles Davis

And just like that a year has passed. In my last post back in April of 2021, I described a major coding project involving p5.js and Web Csound which culminated in a live performance. As I mentioned at the end of the post, I hit a coding wall immediately after this frenzy of activity. Then, just as I was beginning to take on my next music coding project, I met someone who derailed everything and sent me on a radically different musical path.

New Music Project

It all started when my friend Tim told me, "Oh hey, I met this awesome new professor at Carleton. You guys should totally meet. I think you'd get along well." He was referring to Jake Morton, a classics professor who had moved to town only a year or two prior.

A couple months later, probably in May of 2021, this guy comes into the library where I worked, and I realize it's the Jake that Tim was telling me about. We struck up a conversation and decided to grab coffee. Over coffee we realized we had some common musical interests.

Album cover of Miles Davis' On the Corner
Miles Davis' On the Corner from 1972.

Specifically, we were both crazy about Miles Davis' electric period (ca. 1969-1975). In particular, we loved On the Corner and the guitar playing of John McLaughlin during that period. We were also both into the Japanese psychedelic rock band High Rise, which had an intensely overblown, ecstatic guitar sound.

High Rise
High Rise.

Jake was an electric guitarist. I was an electric guitarist. We decided to form an electric Miles cover band. We drafted his old friend and former band mate Joe Brennan to play drums. And with that, all of my creative energy went into this new project. All music coding projects have been tabled since that time.

In future posts I might talk more about this project. But for now, I'll say that we're called Get Up With It and we had our first live show this past March.

New Guitar & Amplifier

When Jake and I began working on the electric Miles project last summer I hadn't actively played electric guitar for maybe eight years. I was rusty, to say the least. So I had the daunting project of reacquainting myself with the guitar along with the technical aspects of playing through pedals and an amp. It's been a year now since that time, and I think I've gotten back most of the skills I used to have.

At first I was playing my Fender Highway One Stratocaster, which had been my main guitar for years. However, I had a few issues with it and got this idea that I would be happier with a Telecaster. This spiraled into a several-month project of building my own Telecaster from parts. I might go into more detail about this project in another post, but here it is: the Flinny Flancaster. It's named after our beloved cat Flannery who we call Flinny Flan.

Flinny Flancaster and Fender Pro Reverb
Flinny Flancaster and 1966 Fender Pro Reverb.

I had also been playing my main amp, a Carvin XV-112. This amp sounds wonderful, but it's a bulky and heavy combo. For years I've wanted to split it up into a head and a speaker cabinet. I got close to doing that but then stumbled on a 1966 Fender Pro Reverb on Craigslist. It had already been rehoused in a head cabinet, which tanked its resale value but made it the perfect amp for me. A black panel 1960s Fender amp was a dream amp of mine, so I was thrilled to pick this up for a bargain price.

New Ear Issues

As exhilarating as it was to be playing music in a band again, I started having ear issues in the winter. It started with fatigue and soreness in my right ear for a day or two after our practices. My right ear had always had major hearing loss since I was a child, but I had never experienced these kinds of symptoms before.

From January to March my right ear got increasingly worse. For weeks on end I was experiencing ear pressure, headaches, and diminished hearing. Wearing high-quality hearing protection didn't prevent the problem. It gave me a lot of anxiety and made my participation in the band a source of stress.

Finally I sought medical help. This ultimately led me to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester where I consulted with a surgeon who specializes in the kind of ear problem I've had since childhood. He suggested an exploratory ear surgery to improve the sound conduction in my middle ear. On the plus side, this surgery has a good chance of significantly improving the hearing in my right ear.

Ear diagram
Ear diagram with pen annotations by doctor.

I've scheduled this surgery for later this month. In the meantime, our band is on hiatus.

New Job

Last August my colleague Sarah at the St. Olaf College library across town let me know that she would be leaving her position for a new job. She encouraged me to apply for her position and thought I would be a great fit. This was major news. I had been working closely with her for several years and had the utmost respect for her. In fact, I had long thought that if she were to leave I would like to have her job.

She was the systems librarian for both St. Olaf College and Carleton College. That meant she got her hands dirty with software development, implementation, and integration. I had been peripherally involved in these projects, but I was often jealous that she got to go into the weeds with configuration and coding. Now was my chance to leverage the technical skills I had been developing the past couple years and see if I was a viable candidate for the position.

Long story short, I applied, went through a couple rounds of interviews, and was offered the job in November. I started in the new position at the beginning of January. I've now been there a little over six months and I'm learning a lot and loving it.

New Direction

I haven't posted on this blog in over a year because, well, the blog is supposed to be about computer music and I haven't been doing computer music. I think it's time to expand the scope of the blog. Going forward I'll post more generally about my musical pursuits.

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