Cross, Lowell (Merlin)

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Cross, Lowell (Merlin)

Cross, Lowell (Merlin) , American composer and electro- musicologist; b. Kingsville, Tex., June 24, 1938. He studied mathematics and music at Tex. Tech. Univ., graduating in 1963; then entered the Univ. of Toronto, obtaining his M.A. in musicology in 1968; attended classes of Marshall McLuhan in environmental technology there; took a course in electronic music with Myron Schaeffer and Gustav Ciamaga. After teaching electronic music and working as a research assoc. at the electronic music studio there (1967–68), he was director and a teacher at the Mills Tape Music Center (1968–69) and a consulting artist and engineer with Experiments in Art and Technology, Inc. (1968–70). In 1971 he joined the faculty of the Univ. of Iowa, where he served as a prof. from 1981. Eschewing any preliminary serial experimentation, Cross espoused a cybernetic totality of audiovisual, electronic, and theatrical arts. He compiled a manual, A Bibliography of Electronic Music (Toronto, 1967; 3rd ed., rev., 1970). As a pioneer in astromusicology, he created the selenogeodesic score Lunar Laser Beam (broadcast as a salutatory message on Nicolas Slonimsky’s 77th birthday, April 27, 1971, purportedly via Leningrad, the subject’s birthplace; the Sea of Tranquillity on the moon; and the Ciudad de Nuestra Senora Reina de Los Angeles in Calif.).


4 Random Studies for Tape (1961); 0.8 Century for Tape (1962); Eclectic Music for Flute and Piano (1964); Antiphonies for Tape (1964); After Long Silence for Soprano and Tape (1964); 3 Etudes for Tape (1965); Video I and II for Variable Media, including Tape, Audio System, Oscilloscope, and Television (1965–68); Musica Instrumental for Acoustical Stereophonic Instruments, Monochrome and Polychrome Television (1965–68); Video III for Television and Phase-derived Audio System (1968); Reunion for Electronic Chessboard (constructed by Cross and first demonstrated in Toronto, March 5, 1968, the main opponents in the chess game being John Cage and Marcel Duchamp, who won readily); Video/Laser I-IV for Laser Deflection System (1969–80); Electro-Acustica for Instruments, Laser Deflection System, Television, and Phase-derived Audio System (1970–71).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire