Wendy Carlos: A Biography

Wendy Carlos: A Biography

by Amanda Sewell


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With her debut album Switched-On Bach, composer and electronic musician Wendy Carlos (b. 1939) brought the sound of the Moog synthesizer to a generation of listeners, helping to effect arguably one of the most substantial changes in popular music's sound since musicians began using amplifiers. Her story is not only one of a person who blazed new trails in electronic music for decades but is also the story of a person who intersected in many ways with American popular culture, medicine, and social trends during the second half of the 20th century and well into the 21st. There is much to tell about her life and about the ways in which her life reflects many dimensions of American culture.

Carlos's identity as a transgender woman has shaped many aspects of her life, her career, how she relates to the public, and how the public has received her and her music. Cultural factors surrounding the treatment of transgender people affected many of the decisions that Carlos has made over the decades. Additionally, cultural reception and perception of transgender people has colored how journalists, scholars, and fans have written about Carlos and her music for decades.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780190053468
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 09/02/2020
Series: Cultural Biographies
Pages: 264
Sales rank: 253,792
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Amanda Sewell is Music Director of Interlochen Public Radio. She holds a Ph.D. in musicology from Indiana University.

Table of Contents


Introduction. The Phenomenon of Wendy Carlos

Chapter 1. Origins (1939-1962)
Chapter 2. Foundations (1962-67)
Chapter 3. Switched-On Bach and Undesired Fame (1968-69)
Chapter 4. Something Went Wrong (1970-1978)
Chapter 5. "Welcome Back, Wendy!" The Playboy Interview (1979)
Chapter 6. Transformations (1979-1984)
Chapter 7. The Last of the New (1985-1997)
Chapter 8. Reissuing the Past (1998-2005)
Chapter 9. Preserving, Protecting, and Defending Her Legacy (2006-Present)


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