My name is Jonathan Piper. I play the tuba, blow the jug, and work as a museum curator.
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. I perform regularly as a soloist and in several duo configurations, and have played in bands and larger ensembles.
My solo work revolves around the combination of tuba and electronics. I employ elements of drone, doom, noise, free jazz, and more, supported by extended techniques including circular breathing, multiphonics, and the use of non-traditional mouthpieces.
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. We’ve performed at wasteLAnd‘s A Winter Wasteland and High Desert Soundings.
I play tuba and electronics with Meghann Welsh, voice, accordion, oboe, saw, and electronics, as Codex Confiteor. We take inspiration from pre-tonal Western music traditions and contemporary improvisatory idioms. Our debut album Syncope was released on Stay Strange Records. It explores the ends of the self and the other, weaving together Guillame de Machaut, Hildegard von Bingen, doom metal, and noise into an ecstatic and apocalyptic whole.
I played 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 played regularly around San Diego and Southern California, and twice performed at the National Jug Band Jubilee in Lousville, Kentucky. With G Burns, I taught jug classes at the National Jug Band Jubilee and the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Workshop.
As a curator, I strive to create exhibitions that inspire thoughtful conversation and reevaluation. My work combines approachable and playful interpretations of complex ideas, engaging designs and interactions, and technological solutions providing deep functionality while remaining largely invisible to the visitor. I also have extensive experience with exhibition installation and fabrication and, when necessary, create my own software tools to support my work including a content management system for scripts, object descriptions, and media; a presentation platform for creating interactive displays based on managed content; and an environmental monitoring system with flexible alerting and reporting.
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 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 currently live in San Diego with my wife, daughter, and son. I work at the NAMM Museum of Making Music, where I design, curate, and implement exhibitions and manage an amazing and varied collection.