About

My name is Jonathan Piper. I play the tuba and work as a museum curator. In my spare time, I’ve learned to brew beer, forge a few simple things as a blacksmith, and take photos.

As a performer, I seek to explore the outer limits of my instrument, which I take to include my tuba and myself. This has included the development of extended performance techniques, the incorporation of electronics into my practice, and a compulsion to seek out sounds that are only possible when something fails. Along with composer Brian Griffeath-Loeb, I’ve documented elements of this performance practice in A Guide to the Contemporary Tuba. I earned a BA in Musical Performance, studying with Tommy Johnson, at UCLA in 2005, and an MA and PhD in Critical Studies/Experimental Practices at UCSD in 2007 and 2013, respectively.

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’ve worked closely with other wonderful musicians including Meghann Welsh, Batya MacAdam-SomerClaes Biehl, Carolyn Chen, Sean Conway, Nicholas Deyoe, and Douglas Wadle.

My dissertation, Locating Experiential Richness in Doom Metal, provides an analysis of doom metal including history and musical characteristics, an examination of common thematic content, and a psychoanalytic investigation of the experience of a performance. A closely related paper was presented to the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, US Chapter, in 2014. Previous research into the effects of digital media on musical consumption was presented to IASPM-US and the Society for Ethnomusicology.

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 taken some blacksmithing classes at the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum in Vista, CA. I reached Level 2 of the California Blacksmith Association’s education program.

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.

I currently live in San Diego, CA with my wife and daughter. I work at the Museum of Making Music, where I develop exhibitions and manage an amazing and varied collection.