My name is Jonathan Piper. I play the tuba, I brew beer, I’m learning about blacksmithing, and I try to take photos from time to time, amongst other things.
I’m currently living in San Diego, which is also where I was born and raised. This is where I learned to play the piano and clarinet before realizing that true happiness meant playing the tuba. I left to study with Tommy Johnson at UCLA, earning a BA in Music Performance. Mitchell Morris and Tamara Levitz got me interested in musicology. I returned home to UC San Diego’s Music Department, earning an MA and PhD in Critical Studies/Experimental Practices. With Nancy Guy as my chair, I wrote a thesis on emo music in suburbia and a dissertation on experiential richness in doom metal. I presented research on doom metal at a meeting of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music – US Chapter, and on digital music ontology at meetings of IASPM-US and the Society for Ethnomusicology.
As a performer, I’ve worked closely with wonderful musicians including Claes Biehl, Carolyn Chen, Sean Conway, Nicholas Deyoe, Brian Griffeath-Loeb, Clinton McCallum, Francis Roberts and Douglas Wadle.
I play tuba and electronics alongside Michelle Lou, bass and electronics, as go by land. We create large-scale, slowly evolving, improvisatory pieces that bring together drone, noise, and jazz idioms.
I play tuba and jug with the G Burns Jug Band, a group exploring the repertoire of early 20th century American recordings to find amazing music. We play regularly around San Diego.
Clint McCallum and I performed together as Aquapuke. We used tuba, voice, and electronics to explore bodily extremes, the limits of masculinity, and the productive capacity of failure.
I started brewing beer with a kit from HomeBrewMart in 2007. I’ve always tried to make my beers interesting, if nothing else: Belgian tripel with xoconostle, American amber with bacon, cream ale with honey and basil, dry-hopped rauchbier, etc. I worked in a commercial brewery for a bit, where I learned a great deal about efficiency and attention to detail.
I’ve recently started taking blacksmithing classes at the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum in Vista, CA. I’m about halfway through the California Blacksmith Association’s Level 1 program. If I had to pick one longterm goal for this skill, it’s to make a functional set of kitchen knives.
Oh, and I have a camera. I take pictures when I can.
I do other stuff, too. I find I’m at my happiest when I’m learning, trying, doing new things. We’ll see what’s next.