Autodidact, part one

I’ve been asked to be a part of Richard Zarou’s podcast No Extra Notes which has me thinking about how I ended up where I now am. I remember what I thought I would be doing and, as it turns out, I’m not doing those things. My view of myself has been out of sync with other people’s views so I’ve been ruminating upon why people see me differently than I do (that makes sense, right?).

For example, if I’m known at all it is most likely in the electroacoustic music world. That is the biggest surprise. I know people who write electronic music exclusively and, while it is a healthy part of my output, it is a rather recent development.

Or is it?

My first serious tape piece was in 2005. Prior to that, I have always claimed that I didn’t have much experience with electronic music. Turns out that isn’t entirely true. I’m seeing things in my past that set me up for being who I am right now. All the experience that I’ve had came from my own isolated experimentations and, even when I took classes in college, I was still pretty much left to my own devices.

In junior high I bought my first keyboard, a hunk of junk from Target, but I loved it (Casio CT-360). It had a simple recorded attached to it that would record whatever I played but didn’t allow for any manipulation. I played around with that keyboard a lot, figuring out guitar licks from pop songs (“The Devil Inside” by INXS, for example) and making up drum beats and solos by rapid toggling through the rhythm beat buttons. My first musique concrete!

In high school I made collages using a dual cassette deck. I’d take fragments from pop songs, film scores, and stand up routines and splice them together using the dubber. My sister might have the tape somewhere, I’m pretty sure I don’t. The one track I remember was using the Bangle’s cover of “Eternal Flame” and interjecting humorous commentary from Sam Kinison and the Dead Milkmen.

Turns out my current tastes and methods of making electroacoustic music are still steeped in what I was doing before I learned anything about the genre. My collegiate experience with electroacoustic music was also rather “hands off” from my teachers. I’ll blog about that later, along with the disclaimer that I still need to formulate. The next post might make it sound like my teachers didn’t teach me anything, and that is far from the case. They taught me the most important things ever by forcing me to be an autodidact.

Done right, shouldn’t all composers be autodidacts?

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  • By Jay C. Batzner » Autodidact, part II on September 21, 2009 at 9:13 am

    […] I know you have been anxiously awaiting the second installment of my previous post promoting the idea of being an autodidact. […]

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