Search - Alvin Lucier :: I Am Sitting in a Room

I Am Sitting in a Room
Alvin Lucier
I Am Sitting in a Room
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Jazz, Special Interest, New Age, Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (1) - Disc #1

In I Am Sitting in a Room, several sentences of recorded speech are simultaneously played back into a room and re-recorded there many times. As the repetitive process continues, those sounds common to the original spoken s...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Alvin Lucier
Title: I Am Sitting in a Room
Members Wishing: 5
Total Copies: 0
Label: Lovely Music
Original Release Date: 12/1/1990
Release Date: 12/1/1990
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Jazz, Special Interest, New Age, Pop, Classical
Styles: Techno, Experimental Music, Vocal Pop, Historical Periods, Modern, 20th, & 21st Century, Symphonies
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 723721300821, 745295101321


Album Description
In I Am Sitting in a Room, several sentences of recorded speech are simultaneously played back into a room and re-recorded there many times. As the repetitive process continues, those sounds common to the original spoken statement and those implied by the structural dimensions of the room are reinforced. The others are gradually eliminated. The space acts as a filter; the speech is transformed into pure sound. All the recorded segments are spliced together in the order in which they were made and constitute the work. I Am Sitting in a Room was composed in 1970 and was first performed at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City that same year. A second version was made in 1972 to accompany the dance, Dune, performed by the Viola Farber Dance Company at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Since that time, numerous versions of this composition have been realized in various ways by other musicians, including a Swedish radio broadcast version. This recording was made by Alvin Lucier on October 29th and 31st, 1980, in the living room of his home in Middletown, CT. The material was recorded on a Nagra tape recorder with an Electro-Voice 635 dynamic microphone and played back on one channel of a Revox A77 tape recorder, Dynaco amplifier and a KLH Model Six loudspeaker. It consists of thirty-two generations of Alvin Lucier's speech and was made expressly for Lovely Music, Ltd.

CD Reviews

A 'process music' classic
DAC Crowell | 05/07/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Ever xerox something, then xerox that xerox, then xerox the xerox of the xerox, then...OK, I'll stop. But you get the idea. Eventually, you get a strange...something...that does and doesn't resemble what you started with. Well, that's what Alvin Lucier did here. First, he recorded a short speech that actually is an explanation of the process he's using...recording himself, then playing back that recording in the room and re-recording it again and again, until the acoustical properties of the room 'remove any imperfections' his speech may have. After a few repetitions, you start to hear changes. But over the last half, the really amazing changes take place, as Lucier's voice morphs into a resonating 'whunnngggzinngggwhirrr whunngggwheeengggg', etc sound, not only getting rid of the 'imperfections', but all identifiable speech characteristics altogether! True 'ambient music' it uses the actual ambience to generate the music. Anyway, it's wonderful to see this on CD, as now the whole work is present in one single piece, as opposed to the original LP version which required a side change. A very trippy, must-have piece for those into electronic and electroacoustic music."
Wonderful experiment in acoustics
Jeffrey Belcher | East Hartford, CT United States | 05/17/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Alvin Lucier sat in a room and recorded a piece of text that explains the process of the piece. He played back the segment of text through speakers and recorded it through microphones on the other side of the room. He then took that recording and repeated the process, subtley enhancing the natural reverbaration and harmonics of the room with each recording. By the end of this 45 minute piece, the text is incoherant and all you're left with is an eerie and haunting amalgomation of overtones and harmonic texture. It is really incredible to hear the piece slowly unfold into a vast desert of returns and space. Highly reccomended for those ready for something very diffferent."
The Lucidity of Lucier
Christopher Costabile | Clearwater, FL USA | 09/11/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The description of what takes place on this disc is well covered, so I will try to add a few things which haven't been addressed.

One of the most illuminating aspects of the sound on this disc is Alvin Lucier's slight speech impediment. He has a small stuttering problem which causes him to repeat the first consonant of a few of the words in his long description of the piece. Well at first, as the listener, it is merely a bit awkward to hear him annunciate his words in this way. However, once the transformation occurs of his natural speaking voice into the almost digital-sounding overtones produced by the room, his "awkward" stuttering has morphed into the predominant rhythmic structure of the piece!

This is a prime example of Alvin Lucier's main intent with every work he composes: to alter and rearrange our conventional perceptions of the world around us. I'm sure Lucier's work probably seems strange to many - the folks who keep shelling out commissions for performances and recordings of the same old works by Bach, Haydn, Mozart, etc. must find it atrocious!- "Is this even music??" they might ask. Well, it is true that Lucier's work is highly conceptual - he might have chosen any other medium of artistic expression besides music and still attained similar results, but let's evaluate what he's done here....

In "I am sitting in a room," Lucier reads aloud the instructions which constitute the very piece he is performing, leaving no aspect of the process a mystery. The slow evolution required for his speech to transform into the warbled, melodic overtones means that the listener has to hear each step of the transformation take place, gradually revealing to the listener the implied, imperceptible nuances already present in Lucier's speech when the piece began, not to mention a greater understanding of the nature of sound.

In addition, one of the most important aspects of this piece is its particularity in regard to place. Depending on the "room" in which this piece is performed, one will not necessarily achieve similar overtones, or even the same rate of transformation (for example, a room with more echo/reverb will result in a greater rate of change), as Lucier achieves here. For possible future performances (and kids, DO try this at home), this dependancy on environmental acoustics allows for the same sort of malleability and artistic choice a conductor might have when deciding how to interpret a symphony.

Within this existential 45 minute performance, Alvin Lucier not only fascinates us with a serene, eventually lucid spoken-word performance, but he also restructures our very notions of both space and speech, all while telling us how he's doing it! As great as Beethoven's 9th may be, I don't think it can make that kind of a claim.

So to wrap things up all nice and succinctly, I will tell you this: Alvin Lucier is a man who once performed his own percussion piece ("Music for solo performer") using only his alpha brain waves. Need I say more?"