Composer/sound designer, biomusician, educator, performer, radio producer
Radio Interview – Listen
Composer Susan Alexjander’s work is about the interconnections between light, sound and our universal stories. She’s a presenter, musician, and perpetual student whose CD’s and film soundtracks have achieved international acclaim in galleries, publications, and performances.
“You are a Universal, Sonic Toolmaker!” — Erik Larson, co-developer of the CymaScope
My friend Erik Larson’s description above is a perfect one. ‘Biomusician’ also applies, because I look to Nature for guidance. I’m a ‘toolmaker’ because my music aligns with the underlying vibrational nature of our Universe and assists others in finding their own place and meaning within our resonating world. This is done using pattern, the language of harmonics, and unusual tunings which are derived from both ancient and modern science: atomic spins, molecular vibrations, planetary revolutions, and so forth. There is a super-conscious level of awareness – group, indigenous mind if you will – where we absolutely know that everything, from protons to galaxies, is alive and expressing as one, grand dance. Isolation is a myth … it is our birthright to belong and participate with a full heart. I try to reach that level without putting a burden on the listener to ‘understand’ the extensive research done before each piece.
I’m an activist for two things:
- a cosmological vision which unites modern science with ancient and indigenous ways of thinking/perceiving, and
- personal empowerment. My work, alone or in collaboration with other artists, goes beyond entertainment into an intimate realm – mysterious,
‘electric’ and hopefully beautiful – where a listener can feel an unbounded expansion of ‘home’ and live life from that aligned place of power.
(For research details, please see Articles)
Slightly longer story
For almost thirty years I’ve been researching the Universe through the
filter of harmonics …
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concordances that I’ve found take my breath away. Pythagorus was my
original muse, but I stand on the shoulders of so many researchers,
philosophers, thinkers and scientists. I am indebted to them all, especially to
Nassim Haramein, Richard Merrick, J. Kepler, Hans Cousto, biologists,
astrophysicists etc. forever. All share the same vision…that the Universe is
vibrationally broadcasting connection and intelligent expression, from micro
As a ‘trained’ classical composer (MA San Jose State University), I was
guided by some remarkable teachers who supported every struggle and
taught me the joy of music. Contrary to popular thought, I never had a
problem feeling ‘inferior’ or overlooked as a woman composer. All I ever
experienced was encouragement. Among the most beloved of my teachers
are Joel Sheveloff and Higo Harada, Alloudin Mathieu…”Dr. Overtone” who
taught me harmonics with a swinging rope…, and Lou Harrison who opened up
the world of exotic (and sensual) tunings to me. I played and toured in his
gamelan for years. My work now abounds in strange tunings mapped over
from the natural world of atoms, galaxies and everything in-between. So far
no one has really complained. Most people find them soothing, and arresting.
They both calm and wake up the nervous system at the same time, and who
knows what else? I make no claims, ‘healing’ or otherwise.
The journey from mainstream music to this weird way of creating art
involved first diving into the ‘sound-healing’ field. Towards the end of my
graduate training, I became frustrated by questions which my professors
couldn’t answer, such as: “Why does a certain interval make us feel this
way, when another feels that way?” or, “How exactly does sound impact the
body?” My turning point came in 1988 when I found Joachim-Ernst Berendt’s
classic, Nada Brahma, The World Is Sound. In the way these things happen,
the book literally fell off a top shelf into my hands. The path had begun, and
because I was in California (for 33 years) I had free-thinkers all around me
and the psychic room/permission to explore anything. For many years I
studied sound and the body with ‘healers,’ researchers such as Sharry
Edwards, eccentric inventors of sound machines, psychotherapists, and
music from all disciplines, especially the Vedic tradition. To this day I cannot
say with certainty that anybody holds the final keys to the kingdom, but we
are close…very close to uncovering (and making available) information that I
believe was once known and widely used for, I dare to say it, transformation.
Instead of doing a PHD after graduate school, I decided to do my own
project. Luckily I found Dr. David Deamer, cell biologist, who was my first
science guru, guiding me through Sequencia’s intimidating DNA data in l988.
Since people often ask me about that first project, I will say that after
pitching the main idea to Dr. Deamer…”Can we actually hear/access
frequencies from the body, and if so, what would they sound like?” it took
me one year to collect all the equipment I needed, learn it with the help of an
angel named Guy Obermeier who just happened to have the time and
knowledge to mentor me, and another year to understand Dr. Deamer’s
science and compose the 20 minute suite for synthesizer (using DNA microtunings),
violin, cello, voice and table. Its debut was on cassette..that’s how
far back it goes! Sequencia did enjoy some success, air-time, and resulted in
workshops, teaching assignments and collaborations. For a short time it was
even distributed in Korea. Those were rich, wonderful Berkeley days.
Dr. Deamer continues to support every odd-ball idea I’ve had since. It
was he who suggested I use Larmor Frequencies that come from atomic
nuclei to represent the sounds of elements such as hydrogen, oxygen and so
forth when it came time to compose for a friend who confidently asked if I
could come up with the sounds of stars. Stars make elements….voila. I
found many beautiful combinations there which can be heard in Divining
Nature and Elements of Tone. David also gave me a treasured compliment
one day when he said…”You’re really a scientist!” An explorer, for sure. I’ll
go anywhere to find a frequency…the Plank Constant, the Great Year of
astrological Precession, a vibrating protein, whale songs, or spinning black
holes. They all have stories, and everything talks to everything else.
I now live in Portland, Oregon. I’m no longer in a classroom but have
private students and will always cherish mentoring. Students are great
teachers; they bring me joy. So do my collaborations with amazing artist
friends like Thais Mazur, Rebecca Kamen, and Diana Hobson. (The complete –
groan – long bio lists former workshops and projects, both in the US and
As of this date in early 2015, I’m planning a book which will help corral
all the bits and pieces of information congealing everywhere in clumps of
notebooks. Most of what I’ve discovered in the past 10 years has not yet
appeared anywhere in my writings, and it’s very excitiing information…hint:
there is a frequency code! (stay tuned) The book will be a huge endeavor,
but demands manifestation. After that I plan to live in a yurt and learn to
knit socks for my grandchildren. Who doesn’t love handmade socks? I
might finally learn to cook too, but we’ll see.