Born April 11, l941 in Vernon, British Columbia, Canada, I was the first of two children. My Father was what would be described today as an organic farmer from a family of eleven. My Mother’s parents were both school teachers in London. Raised on a small twenty-acre farm until the age of six, I attended twelve schools in twelve years. I arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area in l951 at age eleven. Upon turning 18 years of age I joined the U.S. Marine Corps. After spending four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, I continued my education in the same nomadic style, ultimately attending five colleges. I was a Clarinet major and English Literature major at San Diego State University, and finally succumbing to system requirements and the demands of marriage, I landed in an operational training program at First State Bank of Oregon.
It is interesting to review one’s life path in the context of advancing technology. During the l950’s and l960’s it was fairly easy to change occupations. My military service was prior to the Vietnam War. The draft was in place, even for alien residents. My plan was to join the military and see the world. Wrong. The military is not about free choice. I spent three years as a clerk typist in San Diego, and my final year at the Officer Training School in Quantico, Virginia. The peak of my military career was receiving my first electric typewriter. What an amazing invention! I saw my first television set at age eleven. It was a 14” round, black and white picture tube. The picture was so fuzzy, cartoonists made jokes about not being able to distinguish between the TV set and a round window on a clothes dryer. The first telephone I used in Canada was a wall mounted wooden box with a magneto crank on the side, and it had all the local farmers on the same party line. Anyone could listen in on your conversation.
The two-room cabin my Father built in Vernon was built over a well with a mechanical hand pump. We were able to pump our own water after the pump was primed. During the l940’s, winter temperatures in Vernon averaged 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit below 0. Today, the average winter temperature in Vernon is 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Upon moving from Canada to the United States, my Father changed his occupation from farmer to carpenter, and years later to hardware merchant. In the 60’s, upon completion of my military obligation, the whole world opened up to me. I could become an automobile mechanic, a carpenter, an English teacher, a musician, a businessman…there seemed no end to the possibilities. I read voraciously. A habit picked up from my Mother. She always kept a small personal library. Then, during the 60’s, along came the recreational use of LSD. Having read a handful of books on the clinical use of psychotomimetic substances, I set out to discover my own experience. These experiences left me with a great curiosity about how my mind really worked, and evolved into a life long interest in metaphysics. Meantime, I went to work in my Father’s hardware store, fastidiously learning the catalogue name of all the parts and components of residential plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems. Paint chemistry, glass cutting and various other skills fell into place over the six years spent in the hardware business.
I left the hardware business to go to work in residential solar construction. I studied passive solar design at Village Homes in Davis, California (a 220 custom solar home subdivision), obtained my B contractor’s License, and designed and built two passive solar homes. I started studying classical guitar during this period, and started writing music in l980—and never stopped. I spent two years in Davis studying classic guitar, composition, and electronic music with Reed Maxson, a composer, artist, inventor, and electronic musician—in my estimation, a truly great man.
Starting in l985, I spent the next twenty years of my life working for Signet Testing Laboratories as a structural inspector in commercial construction. I conducted specialized structural inspections on more than 1,500 construction sites in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. These included skyscrapers, freeways, hospitals, jails, libraries, restaurants, a linear accelerator, and other miscellaneous structures.
The common thread in my life has been a great quest to understand the structural aspects of architecture, administration, music, and last but not least, my own mind. In l987 I started working with computers and music. Now that we have entered the electronic age and the space age, with information on the Planet doubling every 2.5 years—what should music sound like?
Studying the history of Western music for the past 600 years, one of the most vitally interesting figures is Antonio Vivaldi, 1657-1741. He largely discarded the contrapuntal treatment of the earlier masters in favor of a novel style of rhythmic precision and dynamic drive. It is as if he divined a foreshadowing of current popular music. 21st Century musical imagery is a whole new art form, all the while benefiting from a very rich past. The future of music includes the future of musical instruments. The electronic era presents a potential never before possible. Music is many things to many people, a mixture of old and new, including a medium for relaxation. Currently, there is considerable exploration into the study of music as a healing modality.
Gary Michael Graves
San Francisco October 20, 2008