Henry Ives graduated from Colorado State University in 2022 with degrees in computer science and music, and when asked for his title, he paused.
“It’s a deeper question than you think,” he said. “I’m not a composer that writes software as a day job, and I’m not a software engineer that composes as a hobby – I feel fully both.”
Ives works for Amazon Studios as a software development engineer.
“They have Amazon originals that they’re producing in-house, movies and shows and that sort of thing,” he said. “I work on the internal organizational software that they use to plan releases and track productions.”
While he may not be in the music studio, Ives plays an integral role in the planning and production of well-known Amazon programs.
Outside of Amazon, Ives is a composer with a number of original pieces available on his website. Most recently, he’s taken an interest in composing for micro audiences, mentioning a piece he wrote about his roommates and their time together.
Like many students who double major, Ives chose one program out of passion – music – and the other out of practicality – computer science. With time, however, those lines blurred.
“My plan definitely evolved over my time at CSU,” he said. “It started out as a compromise, but as I kept going, I saw that there was so much crossover.”
While these two disciplines seem miles apart, they have more in common than one might think.
“Computer science and music composition are remarkably complementary fields,” said James David, professor of music composition at CSU. “They’re both built on symbolic languages that require deep knowledge of underlying and interrelated systems.”
Freedom in flexibility
Ives met David in his first year at CSU, and Ives’ talent – both as a musician and as a student – was immediately apparent.
“He truly desired to understand music on a fundamental level,” said David. “Like most successful musicians I know, he absorbed new ideas and skills in order to repurpose them in his own unique aesthetic and philosophy.”
While Ives isn’t a big-time composer just yet, his career at Amazon hasn’t put a stop to his music.
“My goal was, for a long time, to make a living by making music,” said Ives. “But something that goes hand in hand with having a job and having less time to compose is that, right now, I don’t have to write something that people will pay me for. There’s a certain freedom to that.”
Ives still has a long career ahead of him, hopefully with equal parts art and science. For now, his mix of talents and his experiences at CSU allow him the flexibility to pursue both of his passions.
“Making a living is not the goal with music,” he said, “the goal is the music itself.”