Fireside Chat

Carl Stone

60 minsFirst aired 11 Jan 2018Next Fireside Chat Sun at 12:00pm EDT
Loretta Layeroff

An audience with the maverick American composer and pioneering figure in experimental electronic music.

American musician Carl Stone studied composition at the California Institute of the Arts in the late ’60s and early ’70s, where he counted visionary electronic artists such as Morton Subotnick and James Tenney as his classroom peers. Stone’s own ideas grew through his studies, particularly in his work at the music library at CalArts — while recording the archives to tape, he realized that he could use the vast collection of avant-garde sounds to experiment with his own musical collages, without disrupting the master copies. It was a process that has deeply informed his work, crossing US minimalism with turntablism in an almost proto-hip-hop style. He has worked with myriad genres and eras, but it is his love for Asian music, particularly Japanese, that has resonated most. In the late 20th and early 21st century, Stone has focused on composing for ensembles, serving as the president of the American Music Center and director of Meet the Composer, and releasing solo and collaborative multimedia works.


As a highschool student, Carl Stone secretly listened to transmissions coming from radio personality and disc jockey Wolfman Jack, who is famous for his roles in American Graffiti and Midnight Special.


Carl Stone credits his time at the Cal Arts Music Library as the inspiration behind the sampling techniques that spurred his career.


Granular synthesis, a method of sound synthesis grounded in principles of quantum physics, was first employed musically by Greek composer Iannis Xenakis in the 1959 tape piece Analogique B.


Traditional Japanese Gagaku is an ancient form of imperial court music, introduced from China and Korea during the 6th and 7th centuries.


Interview by Mark “Frosty” McNeill
Written, produced and engineered by Frank Westerkamp

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