Christopher Gainey balances a variety of creative and academic pursuits that he considers complementary components of an eclectic approach to the study of music. He composes for and maintains professional relationships with performers around the world, he engages with and benefits from the ideas of his colleagues through academic research, and he performs regularly on guitar and banjo in music of any style that catches his ear. In preparation for this lifestyle, he has earned master of music degrees in composition, guitar, and music theory pedagogy from Peabody Conservatory and a Ph. D. in composition from the University of Iowa. Until 2011, he taught music theory and composition at Grinnell College and the University of Iowa where despite loving his work, he felt that his enthusiasm was undermined by a certain lack of intellectual refinement. In an attempt to remedy this, he is pursuing a second Ph. D. in music theory as a graduate student at the University of British Columbia where the focus of his research is the role of timbre in twenty-first century music.