Lansky (1944) has been using computers to create music for some
time. Attending Princeton University as a graduate student in the
1960's (where he is now chair of the Department of Music), Lansky
applied the techniques of "twelve-tone tonality" that he had studied
with composer George Perle at Queen's College to his computer-generated
compositions. A fascination with timbre as a vehicle for carrying
musical structure led Lansky to pursue applications of the computer
to modify everyday sounds such as speech and ambient noise. A turning
point in this regard was one of his most successful early tape compositions,
Six Fantasies on a Poem by Thomas Campion (1979), in which
the voice of Hannah MacKay (also his wife) is digitally transformed
to create a musical narrative out of Thomas Campion's 1602 poem
the past two decades, Lansky's music has generally employed a tonal
language often described as "accessible." Such a description,
hardly does justice to the subtleties of harmonic and timbral evolution
that engage the listener from beginning to end of each piece. In
representative compositions such as Idle Chatter (1985),
Smalltalk (1990), Things She Carried (1996), and Chords
(1998), an attractive surface complexity induces repeated listenings,
with each one providing a prismatic and rewarding experience.
also writes music for instruments: he calls this "protein music,"
as opposed to the "silicon music" in which he more frequently engages.
Recent works have included Three Moves for Marimba (written
for Nancy Zeltsman), Semi-Suite (a classical guitar suite
for David Starobin), and Odd Moments (written for George
Perle's 85th birthday celebration). These compositions similarly
reflect Lansky's skill at molding a minimal amount of material into
different shapes, shining different lights on it as it were, and
letting us hear it from different angles.