Suzanne Ciani

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Suzanne Ciani (2012)

Suzanne Ciani (born June 4, 1946) is an Italian American pianist and music composer, who found early success with innovative electronic music.


Of Italian descent, she received classical music training at Wellesley College and obtained her M.A. in music composition in 1970 at University of California, Berkeley, where she met and was influenced by the synthesizer designer, Don Buchla. She studied computer generated music with John Chowning and Max Mathews at Stanford University's Artificial Intelligence Labs in the early 1970s.[1]

Career in music[edit]

In 1974 she formed her own company, Ciani/Musica, and, using a Buchla Analog Modular Synthesizer, composed scores for television commercials for corporations such as Coca-Cola, Merrill Lynch, AT&T and General Electric. Besides music, her specialty was reproducing sound effects on the synthesizer, that recording engineers had found difficult to record properly; the sound of a bottle of Coca-Cola being opened and poured was one of Ciani's most widely recognized works, and was used in a series of radio and television commercials in the late 1970s. She is also responsible for "logo" sounds pertaining to Energizer and ABC.[2] Such was the demand for her services, that at one point she was doing up to 50 sessions a week. Her sound effects also appeared in video games (the pinball game Xenon featured her voice[3]). Such audio logos as the Coca-Cola pop and pour along with video game sound effects and more appear on the 2012 album Lixiviation (Finders Keepers) along with the only currently available excerpts from her 1975 Buchla Concert.[4]

In 1977, Ciani provided the sound effects for Meco's disco version of the Star Wars soundtrack, which was certified platinum. She added the signature electronic "swoosh" to Afternoon Delight by the Starland Vocal Band. At the time, Ciani thought the work was just a "song about spaceships".[5] Ciani scored the Lily Tomlin movie The Incredible Shrinking Woman, distinguishing her as the first solo female composer of a major Hollywood film; Lloyd Williams's 1975 experimental film Rainbow's Children; and a 1986 documentary about Mother Teresa, as well the TV daytime serial ("soap opera") One Life to Live. She also composed the 1976 Columbia Pictures and Columbia Pictures Television theme jingles.[6] She has toured throughout the United States, Italy, Spain, and Asia.

In 1982 Ciani began to record albums in the new-age genre, characterized by a mix of electronic and traditional instruments. Her first album, Seven Waves was initially released in Japan in 1982, and later released in her native US in 1984 through Atlantic Records. Her 1986 album The Velocity of Love, released by RCA Records, featured Ciani's best known song, the title track. In 1987 she signed to the Private Music label, which released a number of albums from 1988 to 1992, including re-issues of her first two albums. Although emphasizing electronic music in her recordings, her solo piano album Pianissimo, from 1990, became her best-selling album. Ciani ended her contract with Private Music with the compilation The Private Music of Suzanne Ciani, in 1992.

In the 1990s Ciani founded her own music label, Seventh Wave, on which she has released all her subsequent albums, which have been more classically oriented than her previous recordings. 1994's Dream Suite was recorded in Moscow with the Young Russia Orchestra, and was Grammy-nominated. 1999's Turning featured her first composition with lyrics, in the title track, sung by Taiwanese artist Chyi Yu.

In early 2006, Ciani's Silver Ship won in The 5th Annual Independent Music Awards for Best New Age Album.[7] Ciani was also an inaugural member of the Independent Music Awards' judging panel to support independent artists.[8]

Five of Ciani's albums have been nominated for Grammy awards.



  • 1982 - Seven Waves
  • 1986 - The Velocity of Love
  • 1988 - Neverland, (nominated for Grammy Award for Best New Age Album)
  • 1989 - History of My Heart
  • 1990 - Pianissimo
  • 1991 - Hotel Luna, (nominated for Grammy Award for Best New Age Album)
  • 1992 - The Private Music of Suzanne Ciani (compilation)
  • 1994 - Dream Suite, (nominated for Grammy Award for Best New Age Album)
  • 1996 - Pianissimo II, (nominated for Grammy Award for Best New Age Album)
  • 1997 - A Very Green Christmas (various artists; two tracks from Ciani)
  • 1997 - Suzanne Ciani and The Wave Live!, (Indie nominated)
  • 1999 - Turning, (Grammy and Indie nominated)
  • 2001 - Pianissimo III
  • 2002 - Meditations for Dreams, Relaxation, and Sleep
  • 2003 - Pure Romance
  • 2005 - Silver Ship, (Indie award winner)
  • 2012 - Lixiviation 1969-1985 (compilation)
  • 2016 - Buchla Concerts - 1975

With other artists[edit]

DVD releases[edit]

  • 1997 - Suzanne Ciani and The Wave Live! DVD
  • 2008 - Natura Poetica – Re-released
  • 2008 - Galapagos: A Musical Odyssey


  • Piano books of Ciani's original compositions
  • The Best of Suzanne Ciani, 2007, Hal Leonard Corporation
  • Suzanne Ciani: Turning, 1999, Hal Leonard Corporation
  • Suzanne Ciani: Dream Songs, 1995, Hal Leonard Corporation
  • Suzanne Ciani: New Age Piano, 1991, Hal Leonard Corporation

Film scores[edit]

  • 2001 - Mother Teresa: The Legacy, (Petrie Productions) – Feature documentary on the life, death, and legacy of Mother Teresa.
  • 1986 - Mother Teresa, (Petrie Productions) – Feature documentary on the life of Mother Teresa. Winner of the Moscow Peace Prize.
  • 1981 - The Incredible Shrinking Woman, (Universal Pictures) – Comedy feature film with Lily Tomlin and Charles Grodin.

Awards and recognitions[edit]

  • 2006 – American Federation of Independent Music (Indie) Winner for Silver Ship
  • 2001 – MacDirectory Top Ten Award in recognition of Outstanding Vision, Leadership and Performance
  • 2000 – Grammy Award for Best New Age Album Nominee for Turning
  • 1998 – American Federation of Independent Music (Indie) Nominee for Turning
  • 1998 – American Federation of Independent Music (Indie) Nominee for Suzanne Ciani and The Wave: Live!
  • 1997 – Lifetime Achievement Award (Granny) by the Women in Audio Section of the Audio and Engineering Society
  • 1997 – Grammy Award for Best New Age Album Nominee for Pianissimo II
  • 1996 – Grammy Award for Best New Age Album Nominee for Dream Suite
  • 1992 – Keyboard Magazine Best New Age Keyboardist
  • 1991 – Grammy Award for Best New Age Album Nominee for Hotel Luna
  • 1988 – Grammy Award for Best New Age Album Nominee for Neverland
  • 1987 – National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (New York Chapter) Most Valuable Synthesizer Player Award.
  • 1985 – International Advertising Film Festival (Cannes) Bronze Lion Award for Excellence in Advertising.
  • 1977–1989 – Numerous Clios (Awards for Excellence in Advertising)
  • 1980 – Ciani is the first woman hired to score a major Hollywood feature, The Incredible Shrinking Woman
  • 1980 – Ciani designs sounds for Xenon pinball machine and becomes the first human female voice in a game
  • 1976 – National Endowment for the Arts Composer Grant
  • 1975 – New York Creative Artists Public Service Grant
  • 1972 – Ford Foundation Grant through the Mills College Center for Electronic Music
  • 1968–1970 – Hertz Memorial Fellowship in Music


External links[edit]