Wendy Carlos

wendy carlos by cryssy cheung

bob moog

Wendy Carlos (b. 1939) is an American composer and electronic musician. Carlos first came to notice in the late 1960s with recordings made on the Moog synthesizer, then a relatively new and unknown instrument; most notable were LPs of synthesized Bach and the soundtrack for Stanley Kubrick’s film ‘A Clockwork Orange.’ Although the first Carlos Moog albums were interpretations of the works of classical composers, she later resumed releasing original compositions.

‘Switched-On Bach’ (1968) was an early album demonstrating the use of the synthesizer as a genuine musical instrument. As an early user of Robert Moog’s first commercially available synthesizer modules (Moog assembled these as custom installations that differed greatly from user to user), Walter Carlos helped pioneer the technology, which was significantly more difficult to use than it is today.

Sonic Seasonings (1972) was packaged as a double album, with one side dedicated to each of the four seasons, and each side consisting of one long track. The album blended recorded sounds with synthesized sounds, occasionally employing melodies, to create an ambient effect. Not as popular as some other Carlos albums, it was influential on other artists who went on to create the ambient genre.

The artist’s first recordings were released under the name Walter Carlos. Carlos underwent sex reassignment surgery in 1972. The first release credited to her as ‘Wendy’ was Switched-On Brandenburgs (1979). (The earlier albums have since been re-released under the Wendy Carlos name.) Carlos’ first public appearance after her gender transition was in an interview in a 1979 issue of Playboy magazine.

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