Alvin Lucier

An experimental composer. In his most popular pieces the use of science as well as the dealing with the physical properties of sound is dominant.

One of his early pieces that is said to be the starting point of Lucier’s composing carrier is none other than the “Music for solo Performer”. This composition is created with the help of a device capable of receiving the Alpha waves transmitted from the human brain. These waves are amplified and used to set in motion various percussions.

An attempt to acoustically map the space was made in his popular piece “vespers”. In a dark large hall the performers of the piece were given a sonar-like device which was transmitting a characteristic sound. This sound was differing  according to objects on which it was reflected so after some time the performers were able to translate the changes in sound and successfully guide themselves in the room.

The piece for which Alvin Lucier is more famous about is the “I Am Sitting in a Room” (1969). In this piece the composer is recording a text while sitting in a room and after that he is recording the old recording. After repeating the last step several times he is able to amplify the natural frequencies of the room resulting to an almost melodic composition.

Another “eye-catching” composition was the one called “Music on a thin long wire”. In this piece Alvin Lucier used a long wire in a large room connected to an amplifier. With a magnet he was vibrating the wire and by using a microphone he could pick up those vibrations. By varying the settings of a sine wave oscillator he was able to create interesting acoustic phenomena.

Alvin Lucier opened a dialogue regarding the boarders of sound and music while presenting compositions with rich philosophical content. It can be said that by being experimental and innovative he achieved to create pieces that remain contemporary even decades after the were composed.