Who’s this woman with the keyboards? Well, it’s Wendy Carlos. Who’s that? Hell, I’m upset you don’t already know. Wendy Carlos is a transgender woman who helped shape both electronic and classical music as we know it.
As a six year old, she started piano lessons, at 10, she composed a trio, and at 14, she built a computer. This was in 1953, long before computers were a household item. She assisted Dr. Robert Moog to help him create the Moog synthesizer. In fact, it was Carlos who suggested touch sensitivity, adding greater dynamic range and overall musicality to the instrument.
She rose to prominence in 1968 with her album Switched-On Bach, a collection of Bach pieces recreated on the Moog synthesizer. In 1969, she won three Grammy awards for her debut work. She caught the eye of Stanley Kubrick and was hired to score A Clockwork Orange (you know, one of those movies tumblr is obsessed with). She went on to write the soundtrack for Kubrick’s other film, The Shining, as well as Disney’s Tron.
Carlos also created the first synthesized environmental album in 1972, influencing the ambient genre, and explored alternate tunings with her 1986 album, Beauty in the Beast, inventing new scales to go along with her pieces.