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Suzanne Ciani, Peaced Out Pioneer Of Something They Call A "Synthesizer"

  • International House 3701 Chestnut Street Philadelphia, PA, 19104 United States (map)

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Suzanne Ciani enjoyed a brief notoriety as a pitch-shifting pioneer of the synthesizer, which was then still an instrument so profoundly strange to people that average folks barely believed you could even make music with the things. That's her, below, in 1980, subjecting herself to some goofing around with David Letterman. See, back then, even the overt pop made by the likes of Kraftwerk were treated primarily as novelty records, not "music" so much as... something else.

But as even the very end of the above clip reveals, the synthesizer, from the start, was also capable of great beauty, and in the right hands, even possessed of an almost mystical quality — which, it has turned out, Ciani has been exploring since before the '80s, and has gone on doing ever since. Along the way, she's quietly nabbed five Grammy nominations, affected the way video games and advertising sound, and dabbled in everything from disco to classical. For this rare Philly performance, she'll be showing just a bit of where she's been, in two distinct pieces: One for solo piano and one for a Buchla modular synthesizer. 

Tickets/more info here.