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"Blue" Gene Tyranny
Real Life and The Movies

Volume 1

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The waking dreams that friends and i have concocted and are part of ... the music that walks with the symbols (movies) ... the situation before symbols happen (real life) ... our own bit of heaven, our own raisin' hell. The music – rock/natural sounds/psychic experiments/crazed, gentle documentary – the instruments – the band (guitars, bass, vibes, horns, electric violins, garbage percussion...)/keyboards, electronics and voices– the pieces – I WAS A TEENAGE ASSASSIN FOR THE CIA (film)/THE BUST/BLACK FOREST TRADING POST (film)/PLANET TO PLANET-EAR TO EAR/PALS (Touch andAction-at-a-Distance/MY SONG (video)–the places–New York/Texas/nothing (nowhere)/California/Michigan, during times of humor, excitement, and in the slightly troubled silence of our hearts (aww... well/yes). - "Blue" Gene Tyranny, 1981 (from the original Fun Music cassette release)


... coming soon ...

Track List


  1. Theme for Sally Kellman's "I Was a Teenage Assassin for the C.I.A." (1:11)
  2. The Bust, Music for Megan Terry's "Viet Rock" (2:00)
  3. Theme for Andrew Lugg's "Black Forest Trading Post" (2:50)
  4. Music for Pat Oleszko's "Nudes Reel" (6:26)
  5. A Musical Setting for Dick Higgins' "Three Begins" (3:38)
  6. The White Night Riot (9:48)
  7. Background Orchestra for a Performance of "Back in Texas Again" (4:28)
  8. Music for David White's "33 Yoyo Tricks" Simultaneously with "Closed Transmission in Several Widths" (6:52)
  9. Pals / Touch and Action-at-a-Distance (7:55)
  10. Remembering, from Mary Ashley's "My Song" (6:38)


Cover photo: Philip Makanna; Mastering: Stephan Mathieu

1. Theme Music for Sally Kellman's "I Was A Teenage Assassin for the C.I.A.": Steve Mackay – saxophones, Michael Richards – guitar, Jerry Myers – drums, "Blue" – keyboards; Recorded at Army Street Studios, Jim Keeler, Engineer, 1980.
2. The Bust (from music for Megan Terry's "Viet Rock"): Vivian Shevitz – bass, Pete Kahn, John Littlejohn – saxes, Carter Threlkeld (Buzz) – trumpet, Dennis O'Brien (Cody Sparks) – guitar, Richard Dishman – drums, "Blue" – Wurlitzer electric piano, Michael Richards – police voice, Lyndon Baines Johnson – presidential voice; Recorded live for N.E.T. television, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1967.
3. Theme Music for Andrew Lugg's "Black Forest Trading Post": Ana Perez – guitar, "Blue" – keyboards, electronics, Chamberlin; Recorded at Center for Contemporary Music, 1976, some re-processing 1981.
4. Music for Pat Olesko's "Nudes Reel": Paul Robinson – fiddle, "Blue" – Serge synthesizer, vocoder; Recorded at C.C.M. 1977, some re-processing 1981.
5. Three Begins: "Blue" – electronics; Recorded in San Antonio, Texas 1958, some re-processing C.C.M. 1981. Special thanks to Philip Krumm.
6. The White Night Riot: "Blue" – electronics; Recorded in San Francisco, California May 21-22, 1979. A companion piece to The White Night Riot is Harvey Milk/Portrait on Lovely Music/Vital Records VR 101-06.
7. 7. Sound Module from "Back in Texas Again": David Kapalian – electric violin, Dennis O'Brien (Cody Sparks) – guitar, Richard Dishman – drums, "Blue" – vibraphone; Recorded at home studio 1966 music/1967 natural sounds, some re-processing C.C.M. 1981.
8. Music for David White's "33 Yoyo Tricks" simultaneously with Closed Transmission in Several Widths (1966): "Blue" – electronics, RMI keyboard, IBM 7090 computer, Tom Schunior – programmer; "Tricks" recorded at C.C.M. 1976, "Transmission" recorded at the Logic of Computers Group, Ann Arbor, 1966.
9. Pals/Touch and Action-At-A-Distance: Johnathan Doff – voice, "Blue" – voice, electronics; Recorded at C.C.M. 1972 (feedback), 1978 (voices), 1979 (live mix). Special thanks to Sam Ashley and John Bischoff.
10. Remembering (One track from a time travel piece): The gradual internal visualization of a dear friend's face. The electronics are automatic and on-going as they describe the internal shifts of amplitude, phase. "Blue" – voice, electronics; Recorded at home studio (backyard and inside), Oakland 1974, some re-processing C.C.M. 1981. This track was mixed with other music for "My Song" in Mary Ashley's video series "Klahoya."

© Robert Sheff under Exclusive License to Unseen Worlds
℗ Robert Shef under Exclusive License to Unseen Worlds

About "Blue" Gene Tyranny

  • "Blue" Gene Tyranny
  • “Blue” Gene Tyranny, born Joe Gantic and then adopted as Robert Nathan Sheff, lived a life dominated by music.

    Blue’s approach to music is best demonstrated through his own words:

    Music is my way of being in the world. It teaches subtle feelings, natural growth, social interaction, and more. Music is the art of time passing filled with motion, emotion, locomotion, love of sound, and much more in bits and pieces. Music takes care of two basic needs that last throughout a lifetime: the need to relate to others and the need for freedom.

    He created over 50 works for various electronic and acoustic instruments and voices, which research mysterious natural and social phenomena. Born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1945, Tyranny lived in each of the four corners of mainland U.S. During the late '50s, he studied with pianists Meta Hertwig and Rodney Hoare, composers Otto Wick and Frank Hughes, and organized new music events in Texas with composer Philip Krumm, including several festivals at the McNay Art Institute – premiering works by Cage, Corner, Maxfield, Ono, and others. After earning a BMI Student Composer's Award in 1961, he moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan.

    During the '60s and '70s, he toured with jazz and rock groups (Carla Bley Band, Iggy Pop, the Prime Movers Blues Band, etc.). From 1971 to 1982, as a Lecturer and Instructor in Music, he taught "Recording Studio Techniques", "Harmony and Counterpoint" (three levels)," and "Jazz Improvisation and Literature," and served on graduate committees in the Music Department of Mills College in Oakland, California. He also worked as a technician at the Center for Contemporary Music, a non-profit, community-access facility located at Mills College.

    He moved to New York in 1983, where he was a self-employed composer-performer of solo and group concerts, audio consultancy, film soundtracks, and commissioned work. He performed extensively in hundreds of concerts throughout the US, Canada, and Europe, and also in Mexico, Brazil, and Japan.

    "Blue" produced, recorded, and performed on many albums of other composers' music (Laurie Anderson's Strange Angels, David Behrman's On the Other Ocean, John Cage's Cheap Imitation and Empty Words, etc.), and he composed the harmonies and piano improvisations for Robert Ashley's television opera Perfect Lives. He created over 40 soundtracks for film and video, collaborating on projects with video artists Kenn Beckman and Kit Fitzgerald. His theater and dance collaborations include pieces with the Talking Band, performance artist Pat Oleszko. 

    "Blue" Gene Tyranny died on December 12, 2020 in Long Island City, New York at the age of 75; his death was brought on by complications from diabetes.