Anthony Gnazzo: To compose "Four-Letter Words", Anthony Gnazzo created surrealistically-drawn phallic shapes. He wrote "Canned Music" by inscribing a sticker with the words "Caution--Caution--Caution--This Can Has Been Filled with Extremely Loud Sound for 45 Minutes! Open with Care!"
To qualify himself for the newer technologies he put into place at the Mills Tape Center and, following his departure from Mills in 1969, at California State University, Hayward, and UC Berkeley, he studied mathematics at the University of Hartford and data processing at 21 different navy schools between 1957-61 and served as an instructor in electronic system design at the University of Toronto (1965-66). He also took classes in music theory at Brandeis, receiving his MFA degree in 1965 and a Ph.D. in 1970.
Despite the emphasis on electronics and his composition of numerous tape and mixed media works, his biggest successes came from pieces involving little more than imagination, theatricality, and a variety of philosophic precepts.
Most notably, Gnazzo's juxtapositions had the purpose of eliminating the distinctions between the various artistic disciplines, producing poetry which was graphic design and graphic design which was able to function as musical notation. his "Prime source 14", for example, begins
COVER STORY: Technicolor oBJECTS Running. nasceNT PHOTOgraphs.
...simultaneously presenting a visual event, a poem, and instructions for performing a piece of text sound music. Pro Arts did a one-man retrospective exhibit of his "graphic scores" in Oakland in 1984. They have also been shown in Italy.
He has done mathematically-based abstract scores (the "Prime source" series composed in 1971-79), computer-generated works, collages, sound sculptures, and "events," many of which exhibited humorous or dadaist qualities. A number of his works were commissioned by Berkeley radio station KPFA.
Each of the pieces in the "Oakland Sextet" reiterates a single typewritten word across an entire piece of letter-sized paper (except for a one-inch margin on each border). One of them, entitled "Population Explosion" and using the word "bang," was recorded in the wind-off grooves of "10+2:12 American Text Sound Pieces Pieces" where producer Charles Amirkhanian said it provided many hours of pleasurable listening. (Presumably, it will play infinitely, offering one of the several summary expressions to date of minimal art: because it fails to change, it changes the listener instead.)
Other pieces included in the "Oakland Sextet" collection are entitled "Canon"(boomboomboomboomboomboomboomboomboomboomboomboomboomboom) and "Maxim" (gorkgorkgorkgorkgorkgorkgorkgorkgorkgorkgorkgorkgork).
he has also composed "Tighten Up" (1970) for four rock groups, "NOT-SO" (1971), a radio piece for narrator, mixed chorus and tape, "Compound Skull Fracture (1975), a collaboration with James Cuno for actor, tape, and slides, "Waiting for JB" (1980), and "Lontano" for narrator, tape, and slides (1982). p.141-2