Wendy Carlos
American musician
Wendy Carlos
Wendy Carlos is an American composer and electronic musician. Carlos first came to prominence in 1968 with Switched-On Bach, a recording of music by J.S. Bach painstakingly assembled, phrase-by-phrase, on the Moog synthesizer, at the time a relatively new and unknown instrument. Other classical albums followed.
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Music Video Premiere: Lovett Presents 'Don't Freak Out,' an All-American Song With a Universal Theme
Huffington Post - 4 months
Lovett's catchy "Don't Freak Out" seems made for these times. In fact, America should adopt it as the nation's theme song for this insane election year, no matter who wins the presidential race. Written specifically for a project called The Asheville Symphony Sessions, which includes contributions from some of Western North Carolina's top musicians, Lovett's song begins with his pleasant plinks on a toy piano. With the symphony conducted by Daniel Meyer, it develops into a full-fledged collaboration that includes sweeping orchestral arrangements, a children's chorus providing Beach Boyish (and girlish) harmonies and the buoyant spirit of a singer-songwriter-composer-producer who will warm your heart. Yet, Ben Lovett, who goes by only his last name professionally, had no political motives or heavy-handed messages to deliver when he wrote "Don't Freak Out." It's one of eight songs on the album released in May that, according to Asheville Symphony Orchestra Executive Director David ...
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Huffington Post article
Kryder Unveils "The Chant" From His New Label, The Cartel
Huffington Post - 7 months
Electronic music has seen a great many trends and evolutions since the early days of Robert Moog, Wendy Carlos, and Kraftwerk. However, through the crests and troughs of the industry, one the sub-genres that has steadily remained like an unfaltering heartbeat is house music. Its infections beats and pulsating rhythms are still popular in the mainstream as well as the underground. Hailing from London is Kryder, a highly ambitious proudcer/DJ who led the "groove movement" in house music along with producer Tom Staar. Known in the electronic scene for his rolling and driving beats, Kryder decided to push forth in a new direction, evolving alongside the sound with which he had become so intimately familiar. In addition to creating music and performing, Kryder also runs an independent boutique label called Sosumi Records where he releases music for free. "Sosumi is a label that I set up to help young up-and-coming DJs get their music recognized by the masses and the industry alike," s ...
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Huffington Post article
Jeffrey Biegel - On Keith Emerson's Piano Concerto No. 1
Huffington Post - 9 months
Pianist Jeffrey Biegel's latest recording, Manhattan Intermezzo, is a gathering of piano concertos composed by a quartet of major leaguers in popular music: George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Neil Sedaka, and Keith Emerson (of ELP - Emerson, Lake and Palmer). It recounts a time when each of the artists had taken a hiatus from his immediate musical corner to fashion an opus for piano and orchestra - and custom-tailor it for concert hall presentation. The recording is a rare musical confluence. It is brightened by Jeffrey Biegel's performance history of the Gershwin and Ellington and fueled by his up-close-and-personal interactions with Keith Emerson and Neil Sedaka. The Brown University Orchestra and its Music Director, Paul Phillips supply snappy elegance and smooth rapture to works spanning more than eight decades. Jeffrey's recording goal was four concertos by four composers who wrote popular music or had popularized classical music. Recorded in the fall of 2014 and released this J ...
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Huffington Post article
Play on: Google posts synthesizer tribute to Moog
The Palm Beach Post - almost 5 years
Bob Moog’s synthesizer helped change the sound of modern music. On what would have been his 78th birthday, Google is paying tribute to the man with a virtual version of his famous Moog on their homepage — and it’s completely playable. The Moog doodle, a replica of the Minimoog Model D, may not be a highly complex synthesizer but it explores a lot of the realms of synthesis — the sculpting of sound mastered by a synthesizer. “To be able to put all those capabilities in the hands of hundreds of millions of people is just astounding,” said Moog’s daughter Michelle Moog-Koussa, who serves as executive director of the Bob Moog Foundation. “I think he would be humbled and awed.” In 45 years, the Moog synthesizer has gone from a behemoth instrument that took several techs to work and several people to carry, to one you can download on your iPhone. Moog’s first modular synthesizers in the mid- to late-’60s could easily weigh between 70 and 100 pounds. Keith Emerson’s monster Moog, fo ...
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The Palm Beach Post article
Tom Gabel Comes Out As Transgender: In Praise Of Bravery
MTV News - almost 5 years
Why the Against Me! singer's decision to live as a woman is also a genuine act of courage, in Bigger Than the Sound. By James Montgomery Tom Gabel of Against Me! Photo: Getty Images Tom Gabel probably didn't want to be praised for her decision to come out as transgender; she just wanted to be comfortable in her own body. But I'm going to praise her anyway. Because when Gabel announced to Rolling Stone on Tuesday that she planned to begin living as a woman — after struggling privately with gender dysphoria for years — it was undoubtedly the most personal thing a major recording artist has ever gone public with, an admission that's sure to make her the target of cruel insults and petty insinuations (to say nothing about what it might mean for the future of her band, Against Me!). But rather than focus on the close-mindedness of a select few, it is certainly more worthwhile — not to mention important — to laud Gabel for what is, in its purest form, a genuine act of ...
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MTV News article
Album: The Drums, Portamento (Moshi Moshi/Island) - The Independent
Google News - over 5 years
After a while, the formula wears thin, but not as thin as the pasty production, diluting the New Order-esque arrangements badly but matching Pierce's more whining, clingy performances. The cycling, Wendy Carlos-style synth figures of "Searching For
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Google News article
10 Belligerent Songs That Will Scare Children into Leaving You Alone - SF Weekly (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
... Japancakes' remake of Loveless, and Wendy Carlos' Sonic Seasonings; a little bit of Nicolas Jarr, recently praised at Pitchfork for making great putting-your-daughter-to-sleep music -- but then decided to turn the whole endeavor on its head
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Google News article
Now Playing | 'Portamento,' the New Album by the Drums - New York Times (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
When we were younger, Jacob and I bonded over bands like Kraftwerk and artists like Wendy Carlos. We always had a fascination with these old analog machines and collected them together as teenage boys. This might have been the cause of our solitude
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Google News article
The Drums: 'Music Saved My Life' - This Is Fake DIY
Google News - over 5 years
Jacob and I have always had this fascination with Wendy Carlos – this synthesiser pioneer who actually (if I read this from a correct source), had the biggest selling album of the 1960's – it even outsold The Beatles! It was called Switched-on Bach and
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Google News article
Driphouse Announces New Spectrum Spools LP - Exclaim! (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
... Drone, Electronic, Electronica, Experimental, Floating, Harpsichord, Library Electronics, Modular, Mysterious, Piano, Psychedelic, Puzzling, Satie, Spectrum 008, Spectrum Spools, Sterilized, Synthesizers, Ugly, Wendy Carlos, Wobbly, WTF, Zig-Zag
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Google News article
This Day in Music: August 21st - Gibson
Google News - over 5 years
Wendy Carlos' 1968 Grammy award-winning album, Switched-on Bach, brought Dr. Moog to prominence. 2006, a man surfing the Internet in America foiled three men who broke into a Liverpool shop in Liverpool, England. The man who had logged onto a site
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Google News article
Cloud Music: Rdio Killed The iTunes Star - CloudTweaks News
Google News - over 5 years
You can add the soundtrack to the original Tron movie, by avant-garde classical composer Wendy Carlos, but if you want Arcade Fire's Grammy/Brit/Juno-winning 2010 album The Suburbs, no dice. Rdio doesn't expect you to do it all yourself
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Google News article
Existons-nous ailleurs? - Canoë
Google News - over 5 years
Ils se sont inspirés des œuvres de Vangelis, Brian Eno et Giorgio Moroder ainsi que de celles de Rachmanov, Philip Glass et Wendy Carlos. Another Earth de Mike Cahill avec Brit Marling et William Mapother prend l'affiche le 5 août au Québec
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Google News article
Active Child on His Debut Album, Rent-to-Own Harps, and Breaking into Churches - LA Weekly (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Probably Wendy Carlos, she wrote the soundtrack for a Clockwork Orange. She does a lot of cool creepy electronic music based on classical stuff. I'd probably take Lennon's Imagine album because it's perfect. And ... Daft Punk. It definitely matters
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Google News article
The Book of Knots Talk "Garden of Fainting Stars", Film Composers, and More - Artistdirect.com
Google News - over 5 years
I even love Howard Shore, John Williams, and Wendy Carlos. Some of those Alfred Hitchcock scores that Bernard Herrmann did are absolutely incredible. I love his music. In general, film music is amazing. Scoring has always been a dream of mine for sure
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Google News article
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Wendy Carlos
  • 2005
    Age 65
    In 2005, Carlos was the recipient of the SEAMUS Lifetime Achievement Award "in recognition of lifetime achievement and contribution to the art and craft of electro-acoustic music" by the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States.
    More Details Hide Details Carlos contributed a review of the then-available synthesizers to the June 1971 edition of the Whole Earth Catalog, contrasting the Moog, Buchla and Tonus (aka ARP) systems. She was dismissive of smaller systems like the EMS Putney and the Minimoog as "toys" and "cash-ins". Carlos is also an accomplished solar eclipse photographer.
    Some of Carlos' music had some legal issues regarding its release, but much of it was made available in 2005 as part of her two-volume compilation album, Rediscovering Lost Scores.
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  • 1998
    Age 58
    In 1998, Carlos sued the songwriter/artist Momus for $22 million for his satirical song "Walter Carlos" (which appeared on the album The Little Red Songbook, released that year), which suggested that if Wendy could go back in time she could marry Walter. The case was settled out of court, with Momus agreeing to remove the song from subsequent editions of the CD and owing $30,000 in legal fees. Switched-On Bach was the winner of three 1969 Grammy Awards:
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    Beginning in 1998, Carlos digitally remastered her studio albums, culminating in the Switched-On Box Set released in 1999 featuring her four synthesized classical albums.
    More Details Hide Details In 2005, the two-volume set Rediscovering Lost Scores was released, featuring previously out-of-print material, including the unreleased soundtrack to Woundings and music recorded for A Clockwork Orange, The Shining and Tron that was not used in the films. Carlos became aware of her gender dysphoria at an early age, recalling: "I was about five or six... I remember being convinced I was a little girl, much preferring long hair and girls' clothes, and not knowing why my parents didn't see it clearly". She once went on a date with a girl in her youth and felt "so jealous of her I was beside myself". When she moved to New York City in the 1960s, she learned about transgender issues for the first time and received counselling from sexologist Harry Benjamin. In early 1968, Carlos began hormone replacement treatments which altered her appearance. Prior to a live performance of excerpts from Switched-On Bach with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Carlos felt unhappy to appear in public. She cried in her hotel room, and left wearing fake sideburns, a man's wig, and drew facial hair on her face with an eyebrow pencil to disguise herself as male. Carlos did the same thing when she would meet with Kubrick and for an appearance on The Dick Cavett Show in 1970. The commercial success of Switched-On Bach allowed Carlos to undergo sex reassignment surgery in May 1972, but continued to release albums as "Walter Carlos" throughout the 1970s.
    In 1998, Carlos released her most recent studio album, Tales from Heaven and Hell, for the East Side Digital label.
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  • 1992
    Age 52
    Released in 1992 on Telarc Records, Switched-On Bach 2000 took roughly one and a half years to produce; Carlos estimated around 3,000 hours was spent on the project which involved using several digital audio workstation software packages, including SoundTools and ProTools.
    More Details Hide Details A Moog synthesizer is only used once on the record; the rest is performed on 13 modern synthesizers. The album also marked her first venture into mixing in Dolby Surround sound. Carlos wrote the soundtrack to the British film Brand New World (1998), also known as Woundings, directed by Roberta Hanley and based on a play by Jeff Noon. Carlos explained the style of her music: "I was given fairly large carte blanche to do some horrific things and also some inside-psyche mood paintings, and that's what the film became".
  • 1988
    Age 48
    Released in October 1988, Peter and the Wolf/Carnival of the Animals–Part II was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Album for Children in 1989.
    More Details Hide Details To mark the 25th anniversary of Switched-On Bach, Carlos re-recorded the album with her set of digital instruments and recording techniques.
    In 1988, CBS Records asked Carlos to collaborate with comical musician "Weird Al" Yankovic to release a parody of Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev.
    More Details Hide Details Carlos agreed to the project as she felt it presented a chance "to let your sense of humour out of the cage". Yankovic adapted and narrated its story while Carlos rearranged the music with a "MIDI orchestra", her first venture using the digital interface. The album's second side also contains a humorous adaptation of The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns titled "The Carnival of the Animals–Part II", with Yankovic providing funny poems for each of the featured animals in the style of poet Ogden Nash, who did similar for the original.
  • 1987
    Age 47
    She followed the album with Secrets of Synthesis in 1987, her final album for CBS/Colbumbia, featuring several introductions and demonstrations of synthesized music from Carlos with audio examples from her previous albums.
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  • 1986
    Age 46
    In 1986, Audion released Beauty in the Beast which saw Carlos experiment with just intonation, Balinese scales, and four new scales she devised for the album: Harmonic, Alpha, Beta, and Gamma.
    More Details Hide Details The album features the first instance of a 35-note octave. Carlos considers the album as the most important of her career.
  • 1984
    Age 44
    The first was Digital Moonscapes in 1984, Carlos' first to only feature digital synthesizers.
    More Details Hide Details She wrote the album's tracks for orchestra "or orchestra replica", inspired by various astronomical subjects which used some left over material from her score to Tron. Soon after, Carlos secured a deal with Audion Records, a smaller label as she wished to "get away from that kind of big, monolithic government-like aspect that I had dealt with for so many years".
  • 1980
    Age 40
    Carlos' first project with Franklin began around 1980 when The Walt Disney Company asked her to record the soundtrack to its science fiction feature Tron (1982).
    More Details Hide Details Carlos agreed, but was not interested in composing solely with electronic music as she wished to incorporate an orchestra with her musical ideas. She recalled their demands were "tightly specified... there wasn't a lot of elbow room, and that made it fun." The score incorporated Carlos' analog and digital synthesizers with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the UCLA Chorus, and the Royal Albert Hall Organ. Tron: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released in 1982 and reached No. 135 on the Billboard 200. Carlos intended to release her scores on her own album, but Columbia/CBS showed a lack of interest in the prospect. Three studio albums from Carlos were released in the 1980s.
    With work on The Shining complete, Elkind ended her long time collaboration with Carlos when she moved to France with her husband in 1980.
    More Details Hide Details Carlos remained in New York City, sharing a converted loft in Greenwich Village with her new business partner Annemarie Franklin which housed her new, remodelled studio which was enclosed in a Faraday cage to shield the equipment from white noise and outside interference from radio and television signals.
  • 1975
    Age 35
    Released as By Request in 1975, the album includes pieces from Bach, Wagner, Tchaikovsky, two of Carlos' compositions from the 1960s, and renditions of "Eleanor Rigby" by The Beatles and "What's New Pussycat?
    More Details Hide Details ", originally sung by Tom Jones. The final track, a "witty and serious" set of variations based on themes by Edward Elgar, was replaced with tracks from The Well-Tempered Synthesizer on UK pressings after members of Elgar's estate refused to have his music presented in a less than serious light, which "devastated" Carlos. By Request was followed by Switched-On Brandenburgs, a double album containing all six of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos played on a synthesizer, in 1979. Carlos reunited with Kubrick to compose the score for his psychological horror film The Shining (1980). Before filming began, Carlos and Elkind read the book, as per Kubrick's suggestion, for musical inspiration. Carlos recorded a considerable amount of music, but Kubrick ended up using existing music by several avant-garde composers he had used as guide tracks in the final version. The Shining (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), released in 1980 on Warner Bros. Records, features two tracks credited to Carlos and Elkind: the main title theme and "Rocky Mountains", the former a reinterpretation of the "Dies Irae" section of Symphonie fantastique by Hector Berlioz.
  • 1974
    Age 34
    By mid-1974, Carlos and Elkind had selected tracks of varying styles to record on the Moog synthesizer which Carlos found liberating as it demonstrated the flexibility of the instrument.
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  • 1973
    Age 33
    By 1973, Columbia/CBS Records had received a considerable number of requests for Carlos to produce another album of synthesized classical music.
    More Details Hide Details She agreed to the request, opting to produce a sequel to Switched-On Bach which began with her and Elkind seeking compositions that were most suitable for the synthesizer; the two picked selections from Suite No. 2 in B minor, Two-Part Inventions in A minor and major, Suite from Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach, and Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major. The latter features a Yamaha E-5 Electone organ for certain passages as a reliable polyphonic keyboard had not been developed. The result, Switched-On Bach II, was released in 1973 and sold over 70,000 copies in the US during the first five weeks of its release. Following Switched-On Bach II, Carlos changed musical directions once more. In 1971, she and Elkind asked Columbia Records to attach a pre-paid business reply card in each new pressing of her albums, which resulted in a considerable amount of suggestions from the public regarding the subject of her future releases. The ideas received were divided; some asked for more classical adaptations while others wanted more of Carlos' original compositions. Carlos decided, "If I was going to spend months for mere minutes of music, I certainly wasn't going to be pigeonholed into only retreading existing music", and so began a process of "re-directing new ideas, reworking old ones".
  • 1972
    Age 32
    Carlos experimented with ambient music on her third studio album Sonic Seasonings, released as a double album in 1972, with one long track dedicated to each of the four seasons.
    More Details Hide Details Recorded as early as 1970 and finished in mid-1971, before the A Clockwork Orange project was complete, Carlos wished to produce music that did not require "lengthy concentrated listening", but more than a collection of ambient noises to portray an environment. It combined field recordings of animals and nature with synthesized sounds, occasionally employing melodies, to create soundscapes. It reached No. 168 in the Billboard 200 and influenced other artists who went on to pursue the ambient and new-age genres in later years.
  • 1971
    Age 31
    The success of both albums allowed Carlos to move into Elkind's more spacious New York City home in 1971.
    More Details Hide Details After the release of Switched-On Bach, Carlos was invited to compose the soundtrack of two science fiction films, Marooned (1969), directed by John Sturges, and A Clockwork Orange (1971) by Stanley Kubrick. When the directors of Marooned changed their minds to include a soundtrack, Carlos chose to work with Kubrick as she and Elkind were fans of his previous films, adding: "We finally wound up talking with someone who had a close connection to Stanley Kubrick's lawyer. We suddenly got an invitation to fly to London". Before Carlos knew about the offer, she read the book and began writing a piece based on it named "Timesteps". A soundtrack containing only the film cuts of the score was released as Stanley Kubrick's Clockwork Orange in 1972, combining synthesized and classical music by Henry Purcell, Beethoven and Gioacchino Rossini, with an early use of a vocoder. The album peaked the Billboard 200 chart at No. 146. Later that year, Carlos released an album of music not included in the final score titled Walter Carlos' Clockwork Orange. Carlos later described the project as "a lot of fun... a pleasurable venture".
  • 1970
    Age 30
    In 1970, the album won a Grammy Award for Best Classical Album, Best Classical Performance – Instrumental Soloist or Soloists (With or Without Orchestra), and Best Engineered Classical Recording. Carlos released a follow-up, The Well-Tempered Synthesizer, with synthesized pieces from multiple composers. Released in November 1969, the album reached No. 199 on the Billboard 200 and received two Grammy nominations.
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  • 1967
    Age 27
    Carlos began her music career with Switched-On Bach, an album formed of several pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach performed on a Moog modular synthesizer. The idea came about around 1967 when Carlos asked Elkind to listen to some compositions written by Carlos and musicologist Benjamin Folkman ten years prior at the Electronic Music Center, one of them being Bach's Two-Part Invention in F major, which Elkind took a liking to.
    More Details Hide Details Plans for an album of several of Bach compositions developed from there, leading to a recording contract with Columbia Masterworks through Elkind's contacts, a deal that lasted until 1986. The label had launched an album sales campaign named "Bach to Rock", though it had no album of Bach's works in a contemporary context in its catalogue. With a $2,500 advance, Columbia granted Carlos and Elkind artistic freedom to produce and release the album. Carlos performs with additional synthesizers played by Folkman and Elkind as producer. Recording was a dragged out and time-consuming process as the instrument could only be played one note at a time. Released in October 1968, Switched-On Bach became an unexpected commercial and critical success and helped to draw attention to the synthesizer as a genuine musical instrument. Newsweek dedicated a full page to Carlos with the caption, "Plugging into the Steinway of the future." It peaked at No. 10 on the US Billboard 200 chart and was No. 1 on its Classical Albums chart from January 1969 to January 1972. It is the second classical album to sell over one million copies, and was certified Gold in 1969 and Platinum in 1986 by the Recording Industry Association of America. Carlos performed selections from the album on stage with a synthesizer with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, her only live performance.
    Her first commercial release was "Moog 900 Series – Electronic Music Systems", an introduction to the technical aspects of the Moog synthesizer released in 1967.
    More Details Hide Details Part of her compensation for making the recording was in Moog equipment.
    In 1967, Carlos befriended Rachel Elkind, a former singer who had a musical theatre background and worked as a secretary for Goddard Lieberson, then-president of Columbia Records.
    More Details Hide Details The two shared a home, studio, and business premises in a brownstone building in the West Side of Manhattan in New York City. Carlos wrote several compositions as a student. Two were recorded and released on By Request (1975), titled Dialogues for Piano and Two Loudspeakers (1963) and Episodes for Piano and Electronic Sound (1964). Others include Variations for Flute and Electronic Sounds (1964), Episodes for Piano and Tape (1964), Pomposities for Narrator and Tape (1965), and Noah (1965), an opera blending electronics with an orchestra.
  • 1966
    Age 26
    By 1966, Carlos owned a small Moog synthesizer which she used to record sound effects and jingles for television commercials, which earned her "anywhere from $100 to $1000".
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  • 1965
    Age 25
    In 1965, Carlos graduated Columbia University with a master's degree in music composition, during which she scored several films for students and a film maker for UNICEF, and assisted Leonard Bernstein to present an evening of electronic music at the Philharmonic Hall.
    More Details Hide Details Carlos studied with Vladimir Ussachevsky and Otto Luening, two pioneers of electronic music in the 1960s; the four were based in the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center in New York City, the first of its kind in the United States. When Ussachevsky suggested to Carlos that she work in a recording studio to support herself, Carlos was a recording and mastering engineer at Gotham Recording Studios in New York City until 1968. She called it "a really lovely occupation" and found it a useful learning experience. During her time at Columbia, Carlos met Robert Moog at the annual Audio Engineering Society show which began a partnership; Carlos gave advice and technical assistance in the development of the Moog synthesizer, Moog's new electronic keyboard instrument, convincing Moog to add a touch sensitive device for greater musical dynamics, among other improvements.
  • 1962
    Age 22
    Born and raised in Rhode Island, Carlos studied physics and music at Brown University before moving to New York City in 1962 to study music composition at Columbia University.
    More Details Hide Details Studying and working with various electronic musicians and technicians at the city's Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, she oversaw the development of the Moog synthesizer, then a relatively new and unknown keyboard instrument designed by Robert Moog. Carlos came to prominence with Switched-On Bach (1968), an album of music by Johann Sebastian Bach performed on a Moog synthesizer which helped popularize its use in the 1970s and won her three Grammy Awards. Its commercial success led to several more keyboard albums from Carlos of varying genres including further synthesized classical music adaptations and experimental and ambient music. She composed the score to two Stanley Kubrick films, A Clockwork Orange (1971) and The Shining (1980), and Tron (1982) for Walt Disney Productions. In 1979, Carlos was one of the first public figures to disclose that they had undergone gender reassignment surgery.
  • 1958
    Age 18
    From 1958 to 1962, Carlos studied at Brown University and graduated with a degree in music and physics, during which she taught lessons in electronic music at informal sessions.
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  • 1953
    Age 13
    In 1953, at fourteen, Carlos won a scholarship for a home-built computer at the Westinghouse Science Fair, a research-based science competition for high school students.
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  • 1939
    Born on November 14, 1939.
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