The Sonic Arts Union was founded by Robert Ashley, David Behrman, Alvin Lucier and Gordon Mumma on April 22, 1966, following a concert at the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University. The four composer/performers, who had given the concert together, decided to form an ongoing ensemble in which to share musical ideas as well as electronic equipment. Since that time, the Sonic Arts Union (known as the Sonic Arts Group until 1969) has toured extensively in the United States and Europe. Performances range from concerts in which four works, one by each of the members, are presented, to longer, more environmental installations. Occasionally, guest musicians and visual artists are invited to perform.
The four composers are devoted to the composition and performance of live electronic music. In general, Ashley's works are theatrical and are concerned with social conditions both inside and outside the musical situation, while Lucier's often refer to natural systems--brainwaves, bat and dolphin sonar and resonant frequencies of rooms. Behrman and Mumma design and build their own complex systems of electronic components for the production and control of sounds for specific works. All have used speech as well as instrumental sounds as source material for electronic processing. In addition, all have used, or intend to use, the computer.
The members of the Sonic Arts Union live far apart geographically--Ashley in California, Behrman in Stony Point, New York, Lucier in Connecticut, and Mumma in New York City--necessitating much use of the mails, the telephone, and the jet airplane.
The Sonic Arts Union can be heard collectively on "Sonic Arts Union--Electric Sound," Mainstream Records MS/5010.
-- Sonic Arts statement written in the 1960s or early 1970s.