SEAMUS Award for Lifetime Achievement

Every year, the Board of Directors selects the recipient of the SEAMUS Award, in recognition of lifetime achievement and contribution to the art and craft of electro-acoustic music. The award is presented at the SEAMUS National Conference. For complete listing of all previous winners, scroll to the bottom of this page .

Wendy Carlos receives the 2005 SEAMUS Lifetime Achievement Award


From the beginning, composer and synthesist Wendy Carlos has not followed a conventional music course. Born in Pawtucket, R.I., she started piano lessons at age 6 and exhibited talents for graphic arts and the sciences, winning a Westinghouse Science Fair scholarship for a home built computer. After pursuing a hybrid major in music and physics at Brown University, she earned an M.A. in music composition at Columbia University, studying with pioneers Otto Luening and Vladimir Ussachevsky at the first electronic music center in the U.S.A. Upon graduation, Carlos worked as a recording engineer and befriended Robert Moog, becoming one of his first clients.

In collaboration with Rachel Elkind, who served as her producer for a dozen years, Carlos achieved platinum status with her 1968 recording Switched-On Bach, which propelled the Moog synthesizer into the public consciousness and won three Grammy Awards. She refined her techniques in The Well-Tempered Synthesizer, and introduced the use of vocoders for synthesized singing in her score for Stanley Kubrick's film, A Clockwork Orange, long before space war movies made synthetic voices common. Her haunting Sonic Seasonings (1972) predated the environmental-ambient forms of New Age music by over a decade.

After recording several more albums in a classical vein, Carlos wrote horror music for Kubrick's The Shining, and composed the score for the 1982 Disney film, Tron. The latter score established a continuous blend between symphonic orchestra and synthesizers, a now popular combination. Digital Moonscapes followed in 1984, introducing the "LSI Philharmonic Orchestra," a digital replica of orchestral timbres.

In 1986, Carlos turned to a lifelong interest in alternate scales and musical tunings, combining world music with novel hybrid ideas in Beauty In The Beast. She collaborated in 1989 with (Weird) Al Yankovic on a humorous musical album, coupling a parody of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf with a whimsical extension of a Saint-Saens classic, called Carnival of the Animals - Part Two. The project was her first performed directly into computer, using the latest MIDI and SMPTE technology. With 1992's Switched-On Bach 2000. Carlos came full circle by applying modern techniques and equipment to look back at her early classic, this time using the non-equal temperaments Bach preferred.

More recent albums include Tales of Heaven & Hell, an unusual dramatic musical work which combines themes from A Clockwork Orange in a dark and forbidding gothic Mass, and the score to the British antiwar film, Woundings. She has currently been remastering her back catalog in high res optimum editions for East Side Digital, many albums available on CD for the first time.

Among the most recent projects is the design and construction of a custom four manual with pedalboard instrument. It combines the finest of pipe organ technology and sounds with the latest digital synths in one convenient package, allowing the spontenaity of a live instrument.

Wendy Carlos has delivered papers at New York University, the Audio Engineering Society's Digital Audio Conference, Dolby's NYC Surround Sound demonstration and panel, and other music/audio conferences. She is a member of the Audio Engineering Society, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Carlos consults for several Macintosh developers including Mark of the Unicorn and Make Music, has designed PostScript music fonts for Casady & Greene, and has developed libraries and tunings for Kurzweil/Young Chang. Other interests include solar eclipse chasing, surround sound, astronomy, color vision, photography and other visual arts, map making, reading, gourmet food, film, and a love of animals.


You may visit the Wendy Carlos webspace by clicking here
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Previous award winners (click on each for an active link):

u 1987 Vladimir Ussachevsky
u 1988 Les Paul
u 1989 Mario Davidovsky
u 1990 Otto Luening
u 1991 Robert Moog
u 1993 John Chowning
u 1994 Max Mathews
u 1995 Milton Babbitt
u 1996 Charles Dodge
u 1997 Louis (post.) and Bebe Barron
u 1998 Morton Subotnick
u 1999 Pauline Oliveros
u 2000 Paul Lansky
u 2001 Herbert Brün
u 2002 Don Buchla
u 2003 Jon Appleton
2004 Barry Vercoe