Thursday, February 19, 2009


Several lifetimes ago, I was going to be a composer.  It defined my life and my work (not my jobs -- that's a topic for another time.)  In fact, I even was a composer for awhile.  I had pieces played at schools, was a visiting artist at a university in Iowa, collaborated on an evening of video and electronic music at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, shared coffee and aesthetics with other composers and musicologists.  A close friend had some of my scores framed and used them as part of his apartment decor.

I met some famous composers and performers ("famous" being relative to my chosen genre of avant-garde weird s**t.) Someday, I'll post a reworking of my rejected article about going mushroom hunting with John Cage intertwingled with a review of his concert at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA).  Luciano Berio was a teacher for a music and theater class at Northwestern University (NU). Frederic Rzewski listened and commented on my work while at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).  I interviewed Steve Reich and was invited to a hoity-toity dinner party on Chicago's Gold Coast; the planned article never came to fruition.  Thomas Willis was music and arts critic at the Chicago Tribune; he was also the first professor I worked for as a teaching assistant (at NU).

After about 10 or 12 years, though, I finally succumbed to the intellectual lure of those new gadgets called computers.  I found many similarities between the creation of music and the creation of a program.  Limited space, limited time, limited capabilities, limited resources -- all to be bent to the purpose of a new creation.  The composing that had become a serious hobby as living a life happened disappeared to be supplanted by the new hobby of programming. Eventually, the new hobby became the new way of life and sustenance.

But the dream and aesthetics still bubble under and up through the warp and woof -- FormerComposer seems an appropriate acknowledgement.

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