Alvin Lucier has spent the past six decades exploring sound—its physical properties, how it moves and morphs in space, and the ways in which we can manipulate our own auditory perception.
His music makes you listen differently. Instead of traditional notions of melody and harmony, his music plays with the very wavelengths of sound itself, placing you in the center of the acoustic phenomena and inviting you to hear the sound as it shifts and unfolds within the space.
We caught up with Lucier at the 2019 Big Ears Festival, which featured performances of his music by Joan La Barbara, the Ever Present Orchestra, and the composer himself—including his most iconic work, I Am Sitting in a Room.
In this interview, Lucier talks with us about the science of sound, the hallmarks of experimental composition, and what it takes to play his music.
Audio editing by Nikhil Sarma.