Suzanne Ciani

Suzanne Ciani by Caroline Andrieu

Suzanne Ciani [cha-nee] (b. 1946) is an Italian American pianist and music composer who found early success with innovative electronic music. She received classical music training at Wellesley College and obtained her M.A. in music composition in 1970 at University of California, Berkeley where she met and was influenced by the synthesizer designer, Don Buchla. She studied computer generated music with John Chowning and Max Mathews at Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Labs in the early 1970s.

In 1974 she formed her own company, Ciani/Musica, and, using a Buchla Analog Modular Synthesizer, composed scores for television commercials for corporations such as Coca-Cola, Merrill Lynch, AT&T, and General Electric. Besides music, her specialty was reproducing sound effects on the synthesizer that recording engineers had found difficult to record properly; the sound of a bottle of Coca-Cola being opened and poured was one of Ciani’s most widely recognized works, and was used in a series of radio and television commercials in the late 1970s.

Such was the demand for her services that at one point she was doing up to 50 sessions a week. Her sound effects also appeared in video games; the pinball game ‘Xenon’ featured her voice. In 1977, Ciani provided the sound effects for Meco’s disco version of the ‘Star Wars’ soundtrack, which was certified platinum. Ciani scored the Lily Tomlin movie ‘The Incredible Shrinking Woman,’ distinguishing her as the first solo female composer of a major Hollywood film; Lloyd Williams’s 1975 experimental film ‘Rainbow’s Children’; and a 1986 documentary about Mother Teresa, as well the soap opera ‘One Life to Live.’ She also composed and perhaps best known for the Columbia Pictures and Columbia Pictures Television theme jingles. She has toured throughout the United States, Italy, Spain, and Asia.

In 1982 Ciani began to record albums in the New Age genre, characterized by a mix of electronic and traditional instruments. Her first album, ‘Seven Waves’ was first released in 1982 in Japan, and then two years later in the US. Her 1986 album, ‘The Velocity Of Love,’ featured Ciani’s best known song, the title track. In 1987 she signed to the Private Music label, which released a number of albums from 1988 to 1992, including re-issues of her first two albums. Although emphasizing electronic music in her recordings, her solo piano album ‘Pianissimo,’ from 1990, became her best-selling album.

In the 1990s Ciani founded her own music label, Seventh Wave, from which she has released all her subsequent albums, which have been more classically oriented than her previous recordings. 1994’s ‘Dream Suite’ was recorded in Moscow with the Young Russia Orchestra. 1999’s ‘Turning’ featured her first composition with lyrics, in the title track, sung by Taiwanese artist Chyi Yu.

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