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Subotnick, Morton

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(1933-) An influential electronic music composer and performer from the 1960s to the current time. In 1962 Subotnick co-founded the San Francisco Tape Music Center, a tape studio at which many West Coast composers, including Terry Riley, received their first exposure.

Subotnick left the Center and moved to New York in 1966. There, he began moving away from tape techniques and working with Buchla synthesizers, developing a style that was a sort of fusion of then-current West Coast and East Coast schools. His first two releases, Silver Applies of the Moon (1966) and Wild Bull (1968) were notable for retaining the abstraction of the West Coast school, but adding classical touches from the East Coast school as well as rhythmic and sequenced parts that were not then typical of either esthetic. In the days well before MIDI and microprocessors, Subotnick developed a method of storing control voltage and trigger sequences on multitrack analog tape by modulating the signals onto an audio-frequency carrier. When the tape was played back, demodulators reproduced the voltage sequences which controlled the Buchla synths during playback. This can be regarded as an early example of virtual mixing.

Subotnick moved to Los Angeles and joined the California Institute of the Arts in 1969. Here, he began moving more into interactive and multi-media artworks. After the 1970s he stopped producing works that were strictly recorded music (1978's A Sky of Cloudless Sulfur being one of the last). Works since then have included the interactive opera Jacob's Room and All My Hummingbirds Have Alibis. Today, Subotnick is heavily involved in producing materials for children's music education. He has long been married to avant-garde singer and artist Joan La Barbara.

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