Sunday, January 24, 2010

Suzanne Ciani (1946)

Suzanne Ciani (Boston, July 4th, 1946)

Boston suburbs, 1952. Suzanne Ciani's mother brings home a collection of classical music records: Bach, Mozart and Beethoven affect Suzanne so much that she decides to take on piano. During an excursion to the MIT organized by Wellesley College where she was studying composition, a professor shows her his attempts to produce the sound of violin with the use of computer. The bit emitted from the steel box made her understand that even machines can make music. After her graduation, Suzanne moves to Berkeley, an universe wrapped in counterculture:

“I found myself in the middle of complete revolution. You know, so I’m in the music building playing Chopin, a rock come through the window-literally- and suddenly life was never the same. The whole hippie thing.... I mean, I never wore shoes, hair down to my waist, we ate soybeans and brown rice, I hitchhiked to school. It was very counterculture”

Suzanne discovered that at Mills College she could find a pair of synthesizers, one of which was a Buchla, not used very often: she could spend a lot of hours practicing electronica. In the same years thanks to Harol Paris she gets the first job in Don Buchla's shop, an business that would take interest into cutting-edge matters. She starts welding synthesizers for Buchla, the only way she could afford her modular instrumentation. Buchla 200 will be the instrument that will be with “the woman who could make any sound” for several years.

In 1974 she moves to New York where she knocks at Philippe Glass' Soho Recording Studio's door offering to teach him Buchla's applications. He kindly refused. She creates then her own company, Ciani/Musica, specialized in music and sound effects for video games and advertising: themes for ads like American Express, General Electric, Atari, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola (remember the sound of the can opening?) are then created. Her home in New York has no furniture: just a brand sparkling new Buchla in the middle of the room.
In order to promote new musical typologies, she establishes the Electronic Center for New Music which will fail very soon because of the lack of confidence investors had toward synthesizers. She produces by herself her first album, Seven Waves, that reaches number one on Japan's charts. Her second album, The Velocity of Love, will be published under RCA label in 1986.
In 1987 she signs a contract with Private Music, with whom she will publish Neverland that will get a Grammy nomination the next year.
After a trip to Italy in 1989 Suzanne realizes a new album with some instrumental tracks. She will get another Grammy Nomination for this.
In 1994 she sets up the Seventh Wave with whom she publishes the album Dream Suite. On top of various discographic productions, Suzanne Ciani collaborated to the composition of sound tracks like Joel Schumacher's The Incredible Shrinking Woman.

“Men always had something to prove.... the guys could tell you where to EQ the foot or the snare, or where to boost the mid-range for the trumpet –you know they had all the answers” Suzanne Ciani

(Translation: Matteo Salval)

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