My name is Rob Hansen and I like to play music.
I grew up playing classical violin through the Suzuki method, starting when I was 4 years old, Though I rarely enjoyed practicing or lessons or, for that matter, performing, I continued with my first teacher through high school and my first couple years of university, often on account of the prodding of my mom. In junior and senior high school, I played in my local regional youth orchestra, and then with my university orchestra. I also grew up attending church religiously, so to speak, and recall often improvising my own harmonies while singing hymns on Sunday evenings--I think these experiences played an outsized role in my musical development. In junior high, I started playing with my church's orchestra. Then in high school, I joined the regular worship band and began learning to make up my own violin parts in more contemporary music. This was my first experience improvising music in front of people, and I soon discovered I preferred it, in many ways, to performing written pieces. There's an extra sense of creating that I never felt in orchestras or learning classical repertoire.
I was rather shy growing up--if you happen to know me, you may have noticed that I remain quite reserved to this day--and always wished I had learned to play a "cooler" instrument like guitar or, I dunno, xylophone. B/C playing the right instrument is definitely what makes a musician cool. So I taught myself some Radiohead songs guitar once I got to college. I was intriged by how different the thought processes are between playing what I call "chorded" instruments like guitar and piano versus "melodic" instruments, including classical violin (and most other orchestral instruments). Throughout my violin training, there were very few pieces that include playing across three or four strings as a chord, and I never developed a framework for understanding what makes a chord a chord until I started learning guitar. In other words, had some intuative sense of music theory, but no real knowledge to back it up. Curiously enough, I even suspected thinking or learning more about such things would inhibit my ability to improvise.
Toward the end of my college years, I was introduced to Nickel Creek--actually, my teacher may have told me about them years before but I wasn't paying attention--and I was immediately fascinated by and attracted to the unfamiliar "plinking" of the mandolin. If you aren't familiar, a mandolin has eight strings--four courses of two--typically tuned the same as a violin. A short time later, I happened to be roommates with a musician who happened to have a mandolin. I learned to pluck clumsily along with Chris Thile playing Settlers of Catan (during other peoples' turns, of course), and while waiting for teams to coalesce while playing Halo online. Because the tuning is the same as violin, it was relatively easy to play pieces I already knew--the primary challenges, at first anyway, were to adjust my left hand position to interface correctly with the frets, and to use the plectrum effectively since it engages with the double-coursed strings differently than a pick and a guitar. I was essentially teaching myself to play strummed violin, though, in time, the "chordal" thinking that started for me with guitar started transferring to mandolin.
After graduating from college, my parents gave me my own mandolin: a used F-style Eastman, and I spend a gap year improving my picking technique and learning Sufjan Stevens and Iron and Wine songs. Then I started graduate school, where I became increasingly disillusioned with my chosen field and escaped into music. When I left school, I was determined to have a musical career at least in parallel with a regular job I had spent years in school preparing to do. In my last semester, I started frequenting bluegrass jams in the Bay Area, where I've met many of the people with whom I now regularly play and perform. That following summer, I met John Clarke, a Spanish and Classical guitarist, and Josh Mellinger, a percussionist, while busking in San Francisco. We've been playing on the Wharf, at Pier 39, and at gigs and festivals ever since, and we have recorded two albums as the John H. Clarke Trio.
I continue to play for worship services at my own church and one in San Francisco where a friend from college serves as the music director. I also play in several bands whenever they'll have me, and occasionally visit public jams in or near Oakland, CA.
This site exists primarily because I often want to learn a new things and one day that new thing was web development, possibly as a result of having heard too many podcast commercials informing me that "you need a website." Happenstantially, I also wanted to start pursuing music more intentionally than I had, and had grown tired of not having a good response when people asked me where they could find me online. Ta-dah!
I built this site using the Django framework, Apache web server, and Xubuntu operating system, and host it on a low-power Intel Core i5-6400-based computer in my apartment (srsly, I have it connected to a digital ammeter and have never seen it register as a load).
You can see my upcoming (as well as past) performances on my Appearances page. I have some free music available for listening or linked in Media. Eventually, I'm planning to release some more professionally done solo music, so you can watch for that.
You can also check out some random non-musical projects in the "Toys" section of the navigation bar. For instance, here's a little page that lets you generates nifty Celtic knots. I built these solely for the purpose of teaching myself to code a little better.
The color scheme for this site is based on the Solarized palatte created by Ethan Schoonover. I use Solarized on my personal computer's terminal and find it easy on the eyes and quite pleasing, and above all appreciate the apparent thought that went into designing it. In general, I like things that have a lot of thought behind them.
Thank you so much for visiting!
I made up the word "semisymmetry" to describe the nature of all beauty in the universe. I think everything we humans find or deem beautiful is not perfectly symmetrical nor perfectly novel, but opposites in partial imitation of each other. I consider the word itself autologous, in that the spelling and sounds are almost-but-not-quite mirrored or palendromic.
There is and can be only one perfect name for the so-called "self-driving car," and that is "autonomobile." Spread the word.