Sonic Arts Union [SAU]
- Jessica Payette
Performance cooperative founded in 1966. The group was formed by composers Robert Ashley, David Behrman, Alvin Lucier, and Gordon Mumma. Fluxus artist Benjamin Patterson is credited with conceiving the name Sonic Arts Group for a concert that he programmed at the Lincoln Center Library. Ashley later revised the name to indicate that the partnership was not intended as an improvisatory or collaborative ensemble; the members, who were largely geographically isolated from each other during their decade of activity, pooled their financial resources and equipment in order to realize performances of each member’s works. The members initially became acquainted at ONCE new music festivals in Ann Arbor, Michigan, during the period from 1957 to 1964, when Ashley and Mumma were based there and directed the Cooperative Studio for Electronic Music. The four composers quickly recognized that they shared a like-minded approach to music making that involved designing new instruments and electronic circuitry from ubiquitous objects and exploring the inherent musicality of acoustic spaces. The concerts were distinct in their inclusion of both electroacoustic vocal and instrumental works, many of which are regarded as pivotal to the trajectory of post-Cagean experimental music. Frequently programmed works, such as ...