Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Music to Code To - Part 1

I go through spurts of time where I almost have to be listening to music for the creative coding juices to flow. A great coding song is one that can sit in the background, but provide a little bump now and then. Generally speaking, classical music is great for me to code to. I received the Classical Thunder CD set when I was back in high school doing a lot of music.

I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself, so let me give you a little background on music in my life.

Music plays an important role for me, I was originally a music education major when I started college (yes, only one semester though). When I was getting ready for junior high, we had the option of taking band, orchestra, choir, or something else that I don't remember. I had done a minimal amount of singing in church stuff, but it didn't really interest me, neither did orchestra and whatever that something else was that I can't remember, it didn't seem like something I would like either. Then there was band. Both of my siblings had done the band thing in junior high. My brother played the clarinet and my sister the trumpet. I don't remember ever going to their concerts or hearing them practice, but something made me feel interested in band. The next decision was what instrument to choose. Clarinet didn't seem interesting and neither did trumpet, but trombone, now there was an instrument! I wouldn't have to worry about pressing keys! So, I put trombone down on my registration form.

I played trombone, with some success, through junior high. I played in the top groups at the school and was the lead chair in those groups. I don't claim to have been great at all. I was probably more confident than the other trombone players in my group, so I put myself out there more and tried more things. My freshman year, I decided to get into marching band. I had a blast doing the summer parade band and decided I wanted to do the fall marching band as well, even though freshmen were at a different school from the sophomore through senior students. The fall marching band was a great time and I was starting to feel like music was what I wanted to do with my life.

High school was a whirlwind of music. I continued playing in the top groups and was invited to play in the full symphony my school had. I learned more about classical music that year than I had ever known before. I had often thought that classical music was just Beethoven and Bach, which I didn't like at the time. My musical world was opened up to Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Offenbach, Sibelius and others. My sophomore year, we played Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony Finale which I still love. We did not play a watered down version of it, it was the same as in that video. I purchased a lot of classical music that year. I was also involved with the top concert band at the school, where I learned about famous march composers such as Sousa, Reed and others. I loved playing.

Fast forward to the end of my senior year. I was completing AP Music theory, playing in the Wind Symphony, Symphonic Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, a second year drum major in the marching band and also the pep band. I was accepted at Utah State University into the Music Education program. I knew what I wanted to do with my life.

My first semester of college was an eye opener, as it is for many people. On the semester system, I had 11 classes at 17 credit hours. I was learning to play piano, clarinet, flute, percussion and playing in the marching band, regular band, jazz band 2 and in the trombone choir. I took private lessons from a great trombone instructor Dr. Todd Fallis. I think that Dr. Fallis knew I was not really cut out for what I had chosen, but he didn't let on, he worked hard with me on getting better.

After my first semester, I was exhausted and was not enjoying music very much. The love of playing was not there anymore and I could see that the other trombone players were a lot better than I was. I got started into my second semester one week and decided I needed to make a decision. I wasn't enjoying the music anymore and didn't want to do it, so I looked back on some of the other classes I had taken in high school to see what else I might be interested in. I had taken only one programming class in high school, which was AP Computer Science. That was the last year they taught the class using C++, so the credit from that would get me out of the first semester of CS classes and I had really enjoyed that class. So, I went in and switched majors from Music Education to Computer Science.

The amazing thing was that I had 18 credit hours, but only 6 classes! I actually had a life. I wasn't constantly practicing or going to rehearsals and more importantly, I was enjoying music again. I continued in the CS major and received a BS with an emphasis in Digital Systems (I took some EE classes as part of the degree). I was really enjoying the classes and I was really enjoying music again. Music was still a big part of my life. My roommate was a big music person too and we shared bands and songs back and forth a lot, but it was no longer a burden.

Now that I've given the background on my history with music, in the next part I'll actually get to some of the songs that I consider essential programming music. You may understand a bit more why I choose what I choose with the background info.

1 comment:

Eva said...

you're the coolest