The avant-garde composer and sound artist discusses his seminal 20th-century musical works, which place him in the minimalist canon.
When Alvin Lucier created his seminal 1965 piece “Music for Solo Performer,” he joined contemporaries such as John Cage in the boldness of his approach. Generally considered to be the first musical work to use brain waves to directly generate sound, Lucier’s oeuvre remains a groundbreaking and important aspect of 20th-century music, as well as a touchstone of early “live” electronic performance. After becoming a member of the influential Sonic Arts Union, he went further with “I Am Sitting in a Room,” a seminal sound-art piece that used recordings of his own voice to create resonant frequencies within a space. The piece was eventually purchased by MoMA in New York City, guaranteeing his place alongside Steve Reich, Philip Glass and La Monte Young as a pioneer of experimental minimalism. For more than 50 years, Lucier has challenged audiences with vital, exploratory work while encouraging other musicians as a professor at Wesleyan University.