Obituary: Composer Alvin Lucier, 90

Posted on: December 2, 2021

“Alvin Lucier, the groundbreaking American composer and educator, died Wednesday at his home in Middletown, Conn. after a long illness. He was 90,” writes Lars Gotrich in Wednesday’s (12/1) National Public Radio. “Lucier changed the way we think about sound through monumental works like I Am Sitting in a Room and Music on a Long Thin Wire.… [In] 1965 … Lucier premiered his new way of thinking…. Edmond Dewan, a physicist who designed a brainwave control device, offered his instrument to experiment. With electrodes attached to Lucier and connected to timpani, gongs, bass and snare drums, Music for Solo Performer was the result—a marriage of science and sound generated from Lucier’s own alpha brain waves…. Shortly thereafter, Lucier formed the Sonic Arts Union with Robert Ashley, David Behrman and Gordon Mumma. The … collective existed to share innovations in tape music and music technology.… I Am Sitting in a Room—first recorded at Brandeis in 1969 … is a study in resonance, decay and time…. He installed solar sound systems, wrote solos for acoustic performers and orchestras, scoped radio signals, vibrated the strings of a piano and reworked gamelan instruments for loudspeakers…. For his 90th birthday in May, the Issue Project Room presented a virtual performance of I Am Sitting in a Room with 90 performers, including Lucier.”