Alvin Lucier


  • Alvin Lucier
  • Year of composition: 1994
  • Instrumentation: 4 equal voices

Alvin Lucier was for many years a professor at Wesleyan University in his hometown of Middletown, Connecticut — a position he took over on John Cage’s recommendation. In 1994, a major festival was held at Wesleyan in Lucier’s honor: Collaborations. For this occasion, Lucier composed a number of smaller works, mostly miniatures. The background was that he said he envied his colleagues who could write quickly and easily without the long preparations that many of his own works required. So he decided to make a series of quick sketches. One of these is Unamuno (1994). Here it turns out that even if Lucier had engaged in microtonal exorcism aimed at the lingering Omega signals, he would not have gotten rid of them. The piece can best be described as a poor man’s pocket version of Navigations and like this presents a series of permutations of four tones within the same narrow range, but now for four voices and without microtonal changes. Lucier is content here with simply and artfully presenting his material.