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Wendy Carlos

Luna Gonzalez

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The story begins with 14 year old me and my first listen to Pink Floyd. Before listening to this band the only things I listened were pretty much Heavy Metal, Metal and Hard Rock bands. So the first time I took a grasp on Dark Side of the Moon the way the synthesizers were arranged and the use of complex time signatures really hit me hard the first time. As I grew up I really kept enjoying material from this era; music, movies, architecture,  literature, plastic arts and history. When I was about 17 years old I began to collect vinyl records. I found a store called "La Perla" named after John Steinbeck's book "The Pearl". Here you could buy and sell used vinyls and books. I kept coming back to this place spending all the money my parents gave me on vinyls and later in my life mostly on books. Fortunately my best friend had the same affection of buying vinyl records and of getting to know better the 70's, that he listened and watched everything I discovered. The thing he liked the most were films. One day he presented me to the "Clockwork Orange". The first time I watched it with him I felt really disturbed. The thing that made me feel the most uncomfortable but really caught my eye was the soundtrack. I found it really splendid but I never really listened to it unless I watched the movie. 

One time I was with my grandmother and told her I really enjoyed "old" music, as in music of her era, and she offered to give me all her vinyl record collection. Inside the closet where the collection was I found a special record called "Switched on Bach", it really caught my attention. Once I got home I kept the record for months until one day browsing into my collection I saw it again. 17 year old me took the record and played it. It was a really strange sound like something I heard before, but not quite the same. I read the back of the record to get some information and it was mostly about the process Robert Moog took to make a synthesizer that was worthy of Bach's musical wealthiness. After giving a listen to it I put back on its place with a strange sense of curiosity and love.

The time passed and I kept coming back to the record every now and then. I also searched information about it on the web to talk about it with my friends. I always had a lot of respect on the record for the impact it had on the development of synthesizers and progressive rock. A year ago a good friend of mine sent me a video of a beautiful woman talking about her Moog synthesizer. The video seemed of the 1970's. I was impressed by the video and I watched it 2 or 3 more times. After a while, 3 or 4 months later, I watched it again and I realized that the woman was Wendy Carlos and that she was a trans woman, nothing else. The time went by and today I searched for Wendy Carlos for the first time, I really don't know why, I just felt the need to do it. When searching about her I found and article that talks about her life (https://www.them.us/story/genderations-wendy-carlos). Here I found about two really important things; she made the soundtrack to the Clockwork Orange and she was the brilliant mind behind Switched on Bach. It shocks me that I was always really influenced by the life and work of a trans woman all this time and I never had the most minimum idea. This coincidence made me feel extremely wholesome and I wanted to share with you my experience. If you can you should really start discovering the genius material trans folks are creating all around the world. I recommend taking a dive into the life of Wendy Carlos and perhaps you can feel the same way she made feel: freightened, emotional, wholesome, passionate, and maybe and just maybe proud to be a trans. She gives me the certainty that I as a trans woman have the obligation to go out here and show my art, and give my opinions, and most of all, be an inspiration to other trans folks and soon to be trans folks. 

That's it for today, I hope you enjoy this little journey just as much as I enjoyed sharing it. 

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Switched on Bach was one of my favourites since it was first released back in the 1960s.  Back then, the vinyl record used Wendy Carlos' dead name.  Apparently, she dressed in drab for performances back then, even though she was living as herself in real life.  It wasn't until the album was released on CD that she started using her proper name on it.

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I didn't know about that. I think my version is one of the first editions and I don't have it with me right now to check if it has her dead name or not, I'm going to dust off the record once more just to check. I suppose it has it. Thanks for the info Kathy :)


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I love that album.  I think the version I have has her current name on it.  She's amazing.


Carolyn Marie

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I can't seem to find a current version online. I hope in a few months or so they're back in stock. I'm really interested on Switched on Bach 2000

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On 8/21/2021 at 1:55 PM, Luna Gonzalez said:

I can't seem to find a current version online. I hope in a few months or so they're back in stock. I'm really interested on Switched on Bach 2000


Yes, I tried to find and download it on Apple Music, but could not find it.  Other artists have similar versions, though.  I did find her soundtrack albums for "Tron" and "A Clockwork Orange," though.


Carolyn Marie

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