Maryanne Amacher

Composer and installation artist

Maryanne Amacher (February 25, 1938October 22, 2009) was an American composer and installation artist. She is known for working extensively with a family of psychoacoustic phenomena called auditory distortion products.

Amacher in 2006


  • When played at the right sound level, which is quite high and exciting, the tones in this music will cause your ears to act as neurophonic instruments that emit sounds that will seem to be issuing directly from your head.
    • Amacher, 1999, cited in: Franziska Schroeder (2006). Bodily instruments and instrumental bodies. Vol. 25. p. 74:
    • Description of how "ears act as instruments and emit sounds as well as receive them (Amacher, 1999)... [and] the way these 'otoacoustic emissions' might function."
  • [My audiences] discover they are producing a tonal dimension of the music which interacts melodically, rhythmically, and spatially with the tones in the room. Tones ‘dance’ in the immediate space of their body, around them like a sonic wrap, cascade inside ears, and out to space in front of their eyes … Do not be alarmed! Your ears are not behaving strange or being damaged! … these virtual tones are a natural and very real physical aspect of auditory perception, similar to the fusing of two images resulting in a third three dimensional image in binocular perception... I want to release this music which is produced by the listener...

Quotes about Maryanne Amacher

  • Many of Ms. Amacher’s most notable works are known only by reputation. They were site-specific installations that would be difficult, perhaps even impossible, to recreate, although several have been staged in new versions for different locations. Moreover, the handful of recordings that offer samples of her scores barely do them justice: Ms. Amacher was less concerned with sound on its own terms than with the way sound was perceived in space and over extended time periods.
    • Allan Kozinn, "Maryanne Amacher: obituary," in New York Times, 2009
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