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Suzanne Ciani, Trailblazing Synth Musician, Looks Back

Suzanne Ciani's new retrospective album, <em>Lixiviation 1969-1985</em>, presents long-form works alongside her many commercial projects.
Suzanne Ciani's new retrospective album, <em>Lixiviation 1969-1985</em>, presents long-form works alongside her many commercial projects.

Suzanne Ciani's start in music was traditional enough. She was classically trained, majored in music at Wellesley College, and got a fellowship to study composition at UC Berkeley. But when she arrived there in the mid-1960s, just in time to witness the student protests that consumed the Bay Area during that decade, her focus shifted.

"It was a very amazing time — there was tear gas coming through the window and riots, and nothing was normal," Ciani says. "And in this fertile ground of creative change is where I met the designer Don Buchla, really the consummate designer of electronic music instruments."

Through her relationship with Buchla and other computer music pioneers, Ciani became one herself. She founded her own company in 1974, Ciani/Musica, and became an in-demand producer of major Hollywood film scores, commercial jingles and video game sound effects, releasing albums of her own music all the while.

She discusses her career, including the new retrospective album Lixiviation, with NPR's Jacki Lyden.

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