Laurie Anderson—An Inventor and Pioneer in Sound Artistry

Laurie Anderson is American composer, musician and experimental performance artist. She is considered to be a pioneer in electronic music and sound and she has invented herself many devices that she uses in her recordings and performances. She really does think outside the box and has found herself experimenting more and more with sounds. She is fascinated and intrigued by them and is motivated by them. So much so, that she actually invented devices to explore the world of sounds. Anderson has mainly been influenced by musicians and music which include the genres experimental music and art rock. Anderson describes herself as always trying new technologies and says that she really loves what she does because it gives her a lot of freedom and she enjoys improvisation. She just loves playing with sounds! The thing that makes Laurie stand out among other sound artists is that in her efforts to learn and explore with sound she created amazing sound inventions! She was that driven and motivated. One of her most famous inventions is the tape-bow violin, which she created in 1977. She used recorded magnetic tape on the bow of the violin instead of using the horsehair. Then she added the magnetic tape head on the bridge.  She then plays this new instrument and experiments with the sounds it produces to create music! One thing that I love about Anderson and her work is that she knows that there are no boundaries with sound and that there are always new things to discover. She says that when she listens to her old songs like ‘O-Superman’ it sounds like the same place. What does she mean by that?  She attributes a place and sound to her music. Sound for her isn’t just a sound, it’s an expression, it has meaning and it’s a place. What is her theory about sound? How can sound be a place? Laurie is also different in that she likes to take the things that happen around her and entwine that into her music. How do different circumstances and situations change her music and the sounds she produces?  I also want to know her opinions on her own work. Why does she think that it’s important to break sound into tiny ‘grains’ and observe it? Almost like playing with putty, but this time it’s with sounds. I want to know what motivates her to come up with these inventions and techniques. I want to try her ‘granular synthesis’ technique because that sounds the most interesting and appealing to me. I want to take a sound recording of some sorts and see if I can using digital programs online, ‘chop’ the sound into tiny grains and see what I can do with those bits of sound. I want to try and slow them, increase its pitch and then rearrange the bits so it becomes a whole new recording itself. Laurie Anderson truly is an innovative and avant-garde artist and her work with sound is incredible. From her inventions to her sound techniques she really is someone who knows what she’s talking about.