Women in (New) Music: A Life in Waves

by Maggie Molloy

What is it about Coca-Cola commercials that makes the iconic soda look so crisp and refreshing? Sure, some of it is the fizzy carbonation, the cropped camera shots, the heartwarming smiles—but what about the sound of the soda?

The irresistible pop-and-pour sound effect that completes every classic Coke commercial is the work of electroacoustic composer Suzanne Ciani. A pioneer in the field of electronic music and sound design, Ciani was one of extraordinarily few women in the 1970s who were composing music for a living—and one of drastically fewer who were composing music using modular synthesizers and electronics.

Not only is she talented, but she’s also tenacious. In 1974 she created her own commercial production company called Ciani Musica, Inc.—which went on to become the leader in the field of sound design and TV spot scoring. Her production company created award-winning music for a number of high-profile Fortune 500 clients, like Coca-Cola, Merrill Lynch, AT&T, and General Electric, among others.

And although, whether you know it or not, you’ve probably heard a lot of Ciani’s sonic creations—you’ve probably never heard the full story of Suzanne Ciani. This Wednesday the Seattle International Film Festival presents A Life in Waves, a brand new documentary about the New Age icon.

Created by director Brett Whitcomb and writer Bradford Thomason, the film explores Ciani’s life in music, from her earliest days at the piano to her multi-million dollar advertising ventures, to her achievements in the world of New Age music and beyond. Watch the trailer below and catch the film this Wednesday at Ark Lodge Cinemas:

A Life in Waves is playing at Ark Lodge Cinemas on Wednesday, June 7 at 9:15pm. For tickets and additional information, please click here.

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