The Education of the L-Spiegelular Unit



Music -

I learned music mainly by ear, by improvising, figuring out what I'd heard, playing along with others. My first instruments were a mandolin my grandmother gave me when I was quite young, followed by a guitar and then a banjo in high school. After I'd taught myself notes at around 20I started writing down things I made up so I wouldn't forget them. I was told this was "composing." At the end of the 1960s, I began studying more formally and also using modular analog electronic instruments. (We still avoided the word "synthesizer"; back then because it connoted "synthetic" in the pejorative sense.) Eventually I did get a Masters Degree in Composition, which made my mother, and the guy I was living with when I got it, and a couple of colleges I taught at part time temporarily later happy.

Electronics -

I guess, in retrospect, I was lucky that my father really expected a boy instead of a girl for his first kid, because when I was 9 he gave me a soldering iron and a heap of parts instead of a doll.

The Sciences -

I never formally studied much science beyond high school, but I always loved it and had a good mind for it. I learned enough chemistry messing around in the lab beyond the limits of my (very good) high school chem course to land a job as an analytical chemist doing infrared spectrophotometry for UL* before my hunger for the Meaningfulness of the Arts won out.

*"UL" = Underwriters Labs. They were hiring girl nerds instead of just guys during the Viet Nam War due to the draft, one of feminism's least acknowledged impetuses.

Computers -

I learned computer programming "on the fly" starting in 1973 at Bell Labs, Dept. of Acoustic and Behavioral Research, Murray Hill, NJ, after I realized that I needed computers to do my music the way I really wanted to. I started with punch cards, 24-bit assembly language, FORTRAN IV,and in 1977 got assigned work using the new new new UNIX and C stuff they were frantically writing and changing all the time down the hall. How times have changed since then!

Construction and Related "Home Making" -

I learned far more than I ever wanted to know about construction, wiring,risers, what's in a wall, etc. by moving into an empty warehouse, rented jointly with some other artists, back in 1976 and building my loft.

Dogs -

I've know about dogs all my life, because when I was born, I already had an older brother who was a springer spaniel. In my first years, I looked up to him (literally and figuratively) as he taught me everything he knew about life including his philosophy and perspective on humans. We spent a lot of time together when I was very young, watching the grownups from under the furniture.

Places -

Chicago at first, too long ago to even admit, with some years in Mount Carroll, Illinois, about 10 miles from the Mighty Mississippi River where it's wide enough to have islands in it and the bluffs are very high, then a couple years in England before moving permanently to New York. When I say "permanent", I mean that I have so much stuff* in this large loft by now that the idea of moving is preposterous.

* "stuff" includes: a zillion books and recordings in every medium, a roughly equal numbers of old musical instruments, old synthesizers, and old computers, a workbench and woodpile, recording equipment from a wax cylinder and wire recorders through digital systems, and a life sized replica of the bridge console from the original Star Trek series built once for a party by a couple of friends.

Education, the Official Kind -

Well, that's a bit of a long story... Maybe some other time?



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