Workspace Photo Essay

It appears that my friend Ned blogged about artist’s workspaces just as I was posting pictures of my studio the other day. So, after reading his post I decided to snap a few pictures and give you a closer look at my workspace.

Let me start by saying that I have many workspaces. For example, I have a workspace where I do most of my music writing. For some reason it just seems to be the car. I’m not sure if it is because it is the only time in the day that I am sure I won’t be interrupted or if it is the ever changing scenery. What ever it is, that is where my best ideas come from. I pull over a lot to write down ideas.

If I am going to write harmony, I work in my home study at night when all are asleep. I love this room because the colors make me feel calm, which is helpful when thinking about voice leading.


When I am done recording I mix in the dark. I don’t want to be distracted with anything visual at this point. I don’t have a picture of this workspace because, well, it would just be dark.

The following pictures are of my recording workspace and it is really the most interesting one.
This workspace is not ideal but it is as far away as I can get from everyone else in my house so as to not disturb them. It’s chaotic looking. I like that. It is the last vestige of chaotic space that I am allowed to have. Chaos is good for creativity.

I have lots of things in my crazy workspace that are actually aesthetically pleasing to me. Here is a painting back from my Museum School days, circa 1988. It is a picture of the kitchen in my Brookline apartment. It was depressingly stark, with an orange vinyl upholstered chair. The painting reminds me of a time when I was very much on my own and really didn’t own anything, not even that ugly chair. The fish bowl, and the fish sitting next to the bowl, did not really exist. I think I thought it would be mysterious to have the fish out of the bowl. How did he get there? I always imagined foul play. Also, I like the water pipe in front of it. Generally speaking, there is something I like about strong vertical and horizontal lines.


Here is another painting, from twelve years later, that I used for the cover of one of my books. Notice the vertical lines?


I also like old things. Sometimes people call them antiques. More vertical and horizontal lines. Isn’t that cool?


I also have a few pictures. Here is a picture myself along with some of the Ancient Mariners around 1994. Those guys in the picture are some of the very best fifers in the world. They are helping me perform Mandy Lynne and the Maiden Voyage, which was a fife trio that I wrote (and still need to post). Yeah, I know, there are more than three guys. Some of the voices were doubled up. I am the one standing behind the guy with the long hair…who happens to be John Ciaglia. He writes beautiful arrangements. Check out the cool stripes we have on.


Here I am on the left at about 19 with my buds. More cool stripes. That guy standing next to me was once a bounty hunter. That guy on the far right was in a Pepsi commercial. The guy with the Flock of Seagulls hair cut now owns a lovely sail boat called Indigo.


Here I am with my beautiful wife. Actually, we were only dating when this picture was taken…in 1988. No stripes in this one unless you count the clapboards behind us. I almost died water skiing the day this picture was taken.


I have a variety of other things in my workspace. Here is a fish lantern. I like fish, sort of like I like stripes. I don’t have a picture of it here but I once did an etching of fish with stripes.


I also like Phish. Here is a ticket to one of their very last shows I attended that is hanging, vertically, under my fish.

Speaking of Phish, I’m kind of a hippie at heart, even though I don’t look like one. I have a good friend named Andrew, you might call him a hippie. He once owned a VW Bus. I like old VW Buses. Splitties. He had the coolest bus. It was painted like an American flag…lots of stripes. AAA used a picture of his bus in an add once. Here is a picture of Filmore from Cars. I think I appropriated it from my kid’s happy meal one afternoon. It reminds me of Andrew and his bus. Andrew once lived in Alabama. While driving home to visit his parents in Connecticut he would usually get pulled over. Not because he was speeding, he couldn’t drive faster than fifty five, but because he drove a bus painted like an American flag and I suppose they thought the vehicle might have been constructed entirely out of grass. One time the officers had him empty his whole bus on the side of the highway. When their search turned up nothing they left him there with all his belongings strewn about the roadside. Sometimes it is a hassle being different. Another funny thing about driving around in a bus painted like an American flag is that other people are all too willing to roll down their window on the highway and show you their bong.


I am also a software guy. Here is the first piece of software documentation I ever wrote. I was in seventh grade and the software was written for the Apple IIe. It just kills me to read this. Ironically, I was failing math in seventh grade and as a result, was ultimately banned from the computer lab, which was my only access to a computer. The computer lab was run by the director of the math department who, incidentally had me hack a protected copy of VisiCalc for him. So, he promoted piracy and then denied me access to the one thing I really loved in seventh grade. Now, that is educators shaping the minds of the youth for ya. I continued to fail at math throughout high school, which kept me out of the computer lab and, consequently, I didn’t use a computer again until my junior year in college. For the final twist of fate, I now work at a company called The MathWorks as a software analyst for our web site. Regretfully, I am still not very good at math. Fortunately for myself and The MathWorks, math is not the skill they are asking me to use. They have lots of other brilliant people for that job.


Check out the stripes on this dude. This came from my Grandfather Peterman. He was a good man. He had it hung up in his basement. It has sentimental value to me. Plus, this guy can balance beer on his arm! I’m envious.


Here is my Buderus Boiler. Why am I showing this to you? Because it is an integral part of my studio and has proven to be a royal pain in my … as you can see, diagonal stripes. I hate diagonal stripes. When I record on cold nights it generally turns on five seconds before I have completed the most perfect track ever. I got into the bad habit of turning my Buderus off. Not only was my family unhappy about seeing their breath indoors but a week later the damn thing stopped working. Mind you, Buderus is the Toyota of all boilers. It is what other boilers hope to be when they grow up. Our maintenance guy talks about our Buderus like it is a Harley…’listen to ‘er hum, she’s f’ing gorgeous…’ Well, it stopped humming and it took four guys from our oil company, including the Electrical Engineer owner and a couple of Buderus consultants to fix it. Not to mention, this all transpired while we were supposed to be in Vermont. Needless to say, we didn’t go to Vermont. The woman in the picture above was not happy. The kids were not happy. I also don’t shut ‘er off anymore. So, if you hear humming in my tracks, you’ll know why.


What else? Oh yeah, instruments. Here is my Bacon Banjo. Bacon Banjo Company was one of the most famous banjo companies in the early 1900’s. As far as I know, I have no genealogical connection.


Someday I would like to build a banjo. It would be a Bacon Banjo. I have lots of other instruments (see the fifes, flutes and whistles vertically organized at the top of this page).

So, that is the tour of my workspace and I guess a little bit about who I am. Now I need to get back to making music.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *