Paul Lansky’s Secret: “I Basically Don’t Like Electronic Music.”

The New York Times today has an excellent article that looks at computer music pioneer Paul Lansky.

Lansky is one of the pioneers of computer music, through both early works of computer music and the development of computer music languages and applications.

As he reaches a time in his career when a lot of people would be looking towards retirement, Lansky is shifting his attention away from electronic music.

“I hate to say this, but I think I’m done,” says Mr. Lansky. “Basically I’ve said what I’ve had to say. Here I am, 64, and I find myself at what feels like the beginning of a career. I’m interested in writing for real people at this point.”


“I basically don’t like electronic music,” says Lanksy. “I like to compose it. I’m just not a big fan of it.”

Lansky’s comments and his conversion point out that there’s a boatload of pioneering electronic music that has never found much of an audience.

One of the reasons why is that music that’s etched in stone, like most electronic music, isn’t open to musical interpretation. As a result, it’s fixed to yesterday’s technology and performance, and frequently doesn’t age well.

Or as Lansky put it, “I wanted to be a filmmaker rather than a playwright. “That is, I was interested in creating the finished product rather than in creating scripts for other people to execute.”

Lansky’s late-in-life conversion is a reminder that one of the most important ways music connects to you is through people and performance. Composers that ignore that fact are handicapping themselves.

4 thoughts on “Paul Lansky’s Secret: “I Basically Don’t Like Electronic Music.”

  1. I don’t think it’s fair to call this a conversion – it seems more like someone looking for a new challenge. “Conversion” implies renouncing your previous convictions. There’s nothing wrong with composing to your one, true, clear vision. Seriously, this is pretty obvious stuff. Radiohead have apparently sold over 25 million albums, and yet they still suck.

    If Paul regrets not trying to be some Elvis/Michael Jackson variant, well then that’s sad…

    But I doubt that’s the case.

  2. Conversion? Lansky’s been writing instrumental music throughout his career. There have been periods where his focus has been more on tape music, periods where his focus has been on instruments with tape, and periods with more interactive processing of live instruments.

    Don’t take my word for it, read his list of compositions:

  3. Magaro, Peter –

    I’m aware of his earlier instrumental compositions and electroacoustic work.

    Maybe “epiphany” would be a more appropriate word than conversion?

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