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LeafFrom the beginning, composer and synthesist Wendy Carlos has not followed a conventional music course. Born in Pawtucket, R.I., she started piano lessons at age six and exhibited talents for graphic arts and the sciences, winning a Westinghouse Science Fair scholarship for a home built computer. After pursuing a hybrid major in music and physics at Brown University, she earned an M.A. in music composition at Columbia University, studying with pioneers Otto Luening and Vladimir Ussachevsky at the first electronic music center in the U.S.A. Upon graduation, Carlos worked as a recording engineer and befriended Robert Moog (who currently manufactures many instruments at Big Briar,) becoming one of his first clients.
In collaboration with Rachel Elkind, who served as her producer for a dozen years, Carlos hit platinum sales status with her 1968 recording Switched-On Bach, which propelled the Moog synthesizer into the public consciousness and won three Grammy Awards. She refined her techniques in The Well-Tempered Synthesizer, and introduced the use of vocoders for synthesized singing in her score for Stanley Kubrick's film, A Clockwork Orange, long before space war movies made synthetic voices common. Her haunting Sonic Seasonings in 1972 predated the now popular environmental-ambient forms of New Age music by over a decade.
After recording several more albums in a classical vein, Carlos wrote horror music for Kubrick's The Shining, and composed the score for the 1982 Disney film Tron. The latter score established a continuous blend between symphonic orchestra and digital and analog synthesizers, an often imitated combination. Digital Moonscapes followed in 1984, introducing the "LSI Philharmonic Orchestra," a digital replica of orchestral timbres virtually indistinguishable from their acoustic instrumental counterparts.
In 1986, Carlos turned to a lifelong interest in alternate scales and musical tunings, combining music from old world cultures with new ideas in Beauty In The Beast,. She next collaborated with (Weird) Al Yankovic on a humorous musical album, coupling a parody of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf with a whimsical new composition, Carnival of the Animals -- Part Two as a take-off and extension of the Saint-Saens classic. This tongue-in-cheek blend of verbal and musical parody continued with the LSI Philharmonic timbres and orchestral recreation. But this time it was performed directly into a Mac computer, using all the latest MIDI and SMPTE technology, allowing both precision and human feel in the instrumental ensembles.
With 1992's Switched-On Bach 2000. Carlos came full circle by applying modern techniques and equipment to look back at her early classic, this time using the non-equal temperaments Bach himself preferred. It provides listeners with an opportunity to experience how far the new medium progressed in 25 years, and contains a performance of the much-requested Toccata & Fugue in d minor.
Over 1992-1995, in collaboration with synthesist and friend Larry Fast, Carlos developed a state-of-the-art digital process of soundtrack restoration and surround stereo conversion called: Digi-Surround Stereo Sound. The novel techniques have proven invaluable on recent film and music projects, and in the remasterings of older works.
The latest works by Wendy Carlos include Tales of Heaven & Hell, an unusual musical dramatic work which combines themes from A Clockwork Orange with a dark and forbidding gothic Mass, and the score to the British film, Woundings. Wendy then began a five-year task, remastering painstakingly optimized editions of her back catalog, many albums available on CD for the first time. The first two of these, released by East Side Digital (ESD), were Clockwork Orange, the Complete Carlos Score, and the constantly requested Sonic Seasonings. The most extensive album project is the definitive boxed set collection of her pioneering Bach & Baroque albums, including a great deal of background and historical material: test, audio, photos and graphics, available nowhere else. Other recent remasterings include Beauty in the Beast, and Digital Moonscapes.
These new editions include individual, unbundled CDs of all the Bach and Baroque albums -- just as you remember them (but with greatly improved sound quality!): Switched-On Bach, The Well-Tempered Synthesizer, Switched-On Bach II, and the 2-CD set, Switched-On Brandenburgs. A definitive edition of the score to Disney's TRON was also released on a (now discontinued) CD by Disney (recently made available by them in online delivery formats, from vendors such as Amazon). All of these Hi-D 20-bit ESD albums featured Enhanced-CDs, containing expanded historical notes and previously unreleased bonus material. They include: By Request and Secrets of Synthesis, a new edition of Switched-On Bach 2000, and two brand new albums, Rediscovered Lost Scores, volume I and II, a collection of filmscore music "from the vaults", never before available.
Please note: when ESD suddenly discontinued its albums and operations without warning, we began working on a new distribution arrangement of the full catalog (there HAS been significant progress since we last mentioned this, despite some thorny issues, and it will be worth the effort). Details will be announced on these webpages.

Among her other recent projects is the year long design and construction of a custom hybrid musical assembly, the four manual WurliTzer II. This combines the finest of pipe organ technology with the latest digital synths in one convenient package, allowing the spontaneity of a live instrument. She has been continuing to develop the skills to play the instrument, as it evolves and is expanded continually, while at the same time composing new music for it. It is likely to appear on her next album project, in one way or another.
In April of 2005, Wendy was presented with the SEAMUS 2005 Life Achievement Award, in recognition of her groundbreaking work in the electro-acoustic world since the '60s. She has delivered papers at New York University, the Audio Engineering Society's Digital Audio Conference, Dolby's NYC Surround Sound demonstration and panel, and other music/audio conferences. Carlos is a member of the Audio Engineering Society, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Carlos consults for several Macintosh developers including Mark of the Unicorn, Opcode, and Coda, has designed PostScript music fonts for Casady & Greene, and has developed libraries and tunings for Kurzweil/Young Chang. Other interests include solar eclipse chasing, surround sound, astronomy, color vision, photography and other visual arts, map making, reading, gourmet food, film, and a love of animals.

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Wendy Carlos Biography