Short version: I’m taking a job at Pobox doing software development, and moving to Philadelphia after the semester ends. I’m not giving up on music or music theory, but I won’t be teaching next year. Details after the jump.

Backstory

I think most of the people that read this blog are music theorists or people that know me personally. If that’s not you and instead you’re a programmer that’s found themselves here, you might find this other post more enlightening.

I have a PhD in music theory.1 While I was doing my PhD, I happened into programming as a way of getting out of taking French. (At Indiana, you can take either two foreign languages or a foreign language and a research skill, and my knowing computers is much more useful than my knowing French.) This has led to any number of side gigs: I’ve done various music-related programming things for Music Theory Online, the SMT, CHMTL, and a handful of others, and it helped pay the bills in grad school.

I’ve always kept one eye open for interesting programming jobs, and so when this job came open at the beginning of March I jumped on it. (Yes, academics, you read that correctly: I applied for the job in the second week of March and accepted it the first week of April. On the same day I accepted, I got a rejection letter for an academic job I’d applied to in September.) I’m really excited, and I’m ready to dive in to a new adventure.

FAQs

(This is an announcment post, so no one has actually asked any questions, but these are questions I can imagine people having.)

What is Pobox? Pobox is an email company; I’ve been using them for my personal email for years. As of 2015, they are a service of FastMail, which is another great email company headquartered in Melbourne, Australia.

Why did you want to work for Pobox? My favorite programming language is Perl. In learning Perl a while back, I learned that Pobox used Perl, and in fact contributes a lot to Perl development.2 When I started to consider looking for programming jobs, I had always thought “My ideal programming job would be something like Pobox,” and as it turns out that’s come to pass. Pobox and FastMail’s values also match really closely with my own, and all the people seem really great. (There are a lot of other reasons too, but that might be another post.)

Don’t you like music theory? I sure do! I spent a long time in school for it. I also really like programming. If I’d discovered it earlier, I might have wound up here sooner.

Do you regret getting a PhD in music theory? Thankfully, not at all. I didn’t go into debt to get the degree, and without it I probably never would have happened into programming in the first place. I have lots of close friends I met through theory, and music theory has paid the bills for nearly a decade now.

Are you leaving teaching forever? I’m not sure. I’m leaving it for now. If it turns out I can live a happy, fulfilling life without teaching chromatic harmony, then great!

Are you leaving academia entirely? No! I’m going to keep up my work with MTO and SMT, and I’m planning to go to this year’s SMT meeting in Alexandria (especially since it will be close!). I’d still like to do some research, though I’ll probably take a break for a bit while I get used to my new life.

Wait, didn’t you just publish an article? I did, last week! You can find it here: Transformations in Tonal Jazz.3

Are you just doing this because you couldn’t find an academic job? No. Although the academic job market can be pretty dismal4, as I mentioned above, I’ve always kept an eye out for interesting opportunities elsewhere. What I really love (and am good at, I think) is learning new things: programming offers a lot of new things to learn, and Pobox in particular offers a lot of opportunity for learning more about the field, while contributing to it at the same time.

Final thoughts

I’m excited to start a new chapter in my career and in our life.5 We don’t yet have all of the logistics worked out (especially moving again with a blind cat), and there is lots to do between now and the end of the semester. If you have more questions, I’m happy to talk! The easiest way to find me is either on Twitter (@mmcclimon), or via my email address, which is proudly hosted on Pobox!


  1. Actually, I have three degrees in music theory. My standard first-day-of-class joke is that qualifies me to do very little other than teach music theory to other people. As it turns out, that’s not entirely true.
  2. The erstwhile pumpking, Rik Signes (rjbs), is the person who hired me.
  3. This is more of a plug than a real question, I know.
  4. You knew that already.
  5. One more FAQ. Thankfully, the job pays enough so that Carolyn won’t have to do part-time adjunct work; she’s going to focus on writing her dissertation.

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