Getting to know…. Doug

Hey everyone. Doug here. I’ve been pushing the group to put together some personal introductions for the blog, so I figured I needed to make one myself.

Besides being an arranger, composer, and trombonist for the group (and sometimes Beta Test Dad), I am also an educator and radio host on WRSU (a college station at Rutgers, who have yet to kick this alumnus out).

I also really like science fiction. The genre allows me to explore the impossible as potentially possible. My brain is delighted when it come in contact with the unknown. Not only would today’s world appear to be science fiction to a person in the 1950’s, but the science fiction of the 1950’s looks like our present reality. Today you can regularly find bizarre mixtures of fact and fiction, such as  Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeting the Mars Curiosity Rover.

Recently people have been considering  the genre as no longer a space for “Big Ideas” (a great read that links to a few other great reads). Looking at it objectively, my Eureka and Warehouse 13 binges are nothing but fun escapism. I might slash your tires if you spoil the new season of Doctor Who for me in the coming weeks. Those shows, however, aren’t what immediately comes to mind when I think about why I’m drawn to science fiction: Philip K Dick, HG Wells, Ray Bradbury. These truly let me look at the world in a different way, and they create ideas that had previously never existed.

It’s also what has drawn me to contemporary music. I get a kick out of hearing something that reaches out into unexplored musical territories. It’s a lot of fun to hear a piece of music that has never been heard before. (You’re the audience that gets to collectively write ‘first’ in the comment thread).

One of my ideas for Beta Test has been to incorporate some new music into our set lists. There’s a certain impression in culture that contemporary classical music is really stuffy and hard to listen to. There is some truth in this, but new works today cover a much wider spectrum than that. Living composers create music that sounds like this, and this, …and this. Of course, you can also show up to a premiere of a work that uses mathematical formulas approached in graduate level work (that might sound like this and even that music is math-geeky).

What’s more, some of my favorite new films and games are full of all sorts of contemporary music. Heath Ledger may have made the Joker, but James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer let you peer into his mind. Dead Space 2 has some creepy outside the box music.

In my mind, contemporary music and my geeky interests aren’t all that different. Both spark a sense of wonder in me towards the future and give me a better appreciation for the present.

(they’ll be more of these from other members as we head into the Fall…)

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