I had a line I used in interviews for software engineering positions that was completely true: “I’d be doing this even if I wasn’t being paid.” I liked saying it, potential employers seemed to like hearing it; this guy is passionate about writing code: good stuff.
About eight months ago I made a move from Boulder to San Francisco for a engineering job; a very well paying position doing Rails on a very boring app. This wasn’t a surprise, I knew before I stepped onto the plane that the app was a snoozer but I felt that since it was “coding”, no, let’s make it sexier, since it was “hackin” that it wouldn’t matter to me. Plus, for what they were offering I’d do back flips if they wanted.
Fast forward two months...
I wasn’t doing any back flips. I hated getting up. I hated being at work. I only enjoyed my commutes because I could play around with my iPhone on the BART and the evenings because I could play around with my roommate’s electric piano.
It turns out that what I’m working on does matter to me. It’s not enough to just be hackin on some code. I have to be passionate about the project itself. For some reason this wasn’t obvious to me before.
One night I’m looking at the $5k I had saved (it was actually right in front of me, all cash) and my roommate’s piano. She’s muttering something patronizing like “you’re so good, play some more.” Hmmm. Wait for it. Wait. Eureka! I’ll be a musician.
I quit my job, bought a MIDI keyboard/controller and spent the next five months learning to make music. I’m still in the very beginning of this process. I haven’t made even one dime from music and I still suck with my keyboard.
I don’t think so. I’m buying the cheap brand cigarettes, can’t afford to eat a steak every night but now when I wake in the middle of the night and notice that it’s 4am I think: damn, I still have to wait two hours before the day starts, not, damn I only have four hours of sleep left.
And there’s another bonus here: I now have a decent understanding of music theory and music software. I’m combining these interests into my own music software.
Stay tuned for:
- Peas: a music calculator for those that can’t remember what notes are in a D flat diminished seventh chord. Here's a skeleton of the code on github.
- Nuts: a rhythm framework/calculator for composers and programmers.
- Peanuts: a fusion of Peas and Nuts.
- Butter: for producing music with Peanuts and Ari Russo’s work with MIDI, OSC and ruby.
- Jammin: uses Peas, Ari Russo’s MIDI gems and Processing to give a musician large, easy to see, realtime clues while playing live. Am I in the right key? What chord in the progression am I on? What chord did I just play? Is there a motif somewhere in my random hitting of keys?
The above projects and this blog are part of my rebirth as Mike 3.0 (don’t ask about 2.0): good stuff.