Music Professor Alvin Lucier is another tour de force at Wesleyan. Like Finn, he has garnered his own following among students. Most notoriously, nearly every student at Wes is familiar with his 1969 recording “I am Sitting in a Room.” Here, today in the Washington Post, he is noted as one of the greatest composers of the 20th century:
“I Am Sitting in a Room.” (Alvin Lucier, performer. Lovely Music.)
After 10 minutes, you’ll probably hate this piece, but by the time it reaches the half-hour mark, I’ll bet you are fascinated. The idea behind “I Am Sitting in a Room” is very simple, rather akin to making a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy with the inevitable fuzzy dissolution of the original image. What Lucier (born 1931) did was to take a tape recording of a brief speech, play it into another tape recorder, then take that tape and play it into another recorder, and so on, until all language was filtered away and what was left was a mercurial patina of sonic residue — the “ghost” of the speech, if you will. It may sound arty and pretentious, but it couldn’t be more lovely, especially as the distortion moves in to stay. Words become music, sound becomes shimmer and a natural process of acoustics is demonstrated in the most elegant and strangely beautiful fashion.
On a completely unrelated note, Xue is the hyperactive puppy of the internet search. I tell her to fetch, and she fetches. Good Xue, good. Sit, booboo, sit. Good girl.
Xue adds: I was speaking to Brian Decker ’08 (a music major) on the phone just now as I was listening to the mp3. To me it just sounds like hurt. But Brian insists that he hears whales. Whatever, Brian.