In 1968 Suzanne Ciani was a classically trained pianist attending UC Berkeley for composition. Immersed in the counterculture of the time, Ciani stumbled across Don Buchla’s extraordinary workshop, housing the prototypes for what would become some of the most coveted modular synths to this day. Ciani was hooked. She traded in piano keys for the electric touch of working with knobs and patch cables. Only problem? The price of any of these synthesizers was astronomical. Ciani needed a way to get her hands on one full time and she got to work on making that happen. From tv ads and radio spots, to feature length film scoring, Ciani was a pioneer in electronic music in ways that are only surfacing now, and I’m so happy to bring you the story in her own words, plus some context from electronic musicians Softcoresoft & Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and musicologist Tim Taylor.
Hear this story of Suzanne Ciani’s electronic music and commercial career on KCRW’s podcast Lost Notes. Listen here, or subscribe to the podcast.