I am a tuba player and scholar. I received my B.A. in Music Performance from UCLA in 2005 where I studied with Tommy Johnson. I also worked extensively in 20th century music theory with David Lefkowitz and musicology with Mitchell Morris and Tamara Levitz. Though I dreamed of becoming an orchestral player, my studies in contemporary music have led me to pursue both a scholarly inquiry of music and a considerably more experimental approach to performance.
I received my M.A. and am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the Critical Studies/Experimental Practices program in Music at UCSD. My scholarly work tends towards issues relating to popular music, recently focusing on the ontological effects of digitization on the reception of music. I have written papers on suburban punk and the phenomenon of post-rock and a thesis on the influence of urban geography on musical practice under the supervision of Nancy Guy. I have recently presented on playlist- and mixtape-sharing websites at conferences for IASPM-US and SEM.
My own performance practice has become rather multifaceted (but then, who can’t claim this nowadays?). I have begun a project of soliciting (it’s cheaper than commissioning) a series of new works for solo tuba from student composers. The first successful result of this project was the collaboration with Douglas C. Wadle, a Los Angeles composer situated strongly in the American Experimentalist school, on “Limburger Skunk,” a piece for small brass band and tuba solo. Recently, I have worked most extensively with Brian Griffeath-Loeb, a wonderful composer interested in the ramifications of complexity, including his attempt to move away from it. Our collaboration has resulted in one performance so far of the piece “bicusp[i think you've got]id” for flute and tuba and two performances of “Sequitor, non?” for piano, guitar, baritone saxophone and tuba, with two more pieces in progress. We intend to create a manual of extended techniques for tuba, geared for composers, very soon.
I also perform actively as an improviser, working with such notable musicians as James Ilgenfritz, Susan Allen, David Borgo and Alan Lechusza. I am a member of PFR (pronounced “fur,” originally Postures For Realignment), an electroacoustic quintet exploring the possibilities for interaction between five widely varied instruments and their associated traditions. Along with myself on tuba and assorted brass/mutes, PFR is: Joe Bigham, electric guitar; William Brent, laptop sampling and synthesis; Fabio Oliveira, percussion; and Jason Ponce, laptop sampling and synthesis. We have performed in various venues on the UCSD campus and around San Diego. Our most recent performance, featured on the UCSD Music Department Spring Festival, was of “Squirrel Pod Saskatchewan,” a piece exploring patriotism, war and homoeroticism – accompanied by footage from Top Gun.
My current major improvisation project is a duo with composer Clint McCallum called Aquapuke. The duo uses tuba and voice, both processed through electronics, to investigate the body-to-sound spectrum from a perceptually pure directness to an absolute filtering and also to explore musical activity at the physical limits of the human body. A similarity of bodily action will at times result in two entirely different sounds, at others in two similar sounds, and at still others in sounds that defy immediate perceptual identification – Perhaps obviously, this is complicated by electronics. To address physical limitation, we typically perform for at least 30 minutes continuously at very strenuous levels. The end result is both the weakening of the body to the point of exhaustion and a hightened awareness of the role that the body plays in making music – when the body fails, one tends to notice.
An important goal of mine is the extension of the tuba, both through new performance techniques and actual additions or modifications to the instrument. My current project is a mute-based microphone system that blocks as much of the tuba”s sound as possible – ala Yamaha’s Silent Brass mute – but with built-in capabilities for extensive sound manipulation, along with a few other surprises.
Outside of “serious” music, I have played with several “pop” bands including Wiseblood, a minimalistic, Feldman-esque, “Slint-y” post-rock trio, Obligerant, the most punk rockinest band around (especially among those with a tuba player), and The Orange Velvets, a great surf/indie mashup. I currently play with Martian Horses, a massive indie/orchestral rock 9-piece.
I am currently living in San Diego.