Composer Bebe Barron Dead at 83

Posted in News on April 28, 2008

Bebe Barron, a pioneer of electronic scores for feature films, died April 20 of natural causes in Los Angeles.

Born Charlotte Wind in Minneapolis on June 16, 1925, Barron attended the University of Minnesota, where she earned a degree in music. She eventually moved to New York to work for Time-Life as a researcher and study composition. While in New York, she married Louis Barron and formed a composer partnership rooted in the recording and manipulation of sound material using a tape recorder.

Unlike contemporary electro-acoustic effects that are digitally synthesized, the Barrons used tape and recorders to create a distinct electronic sound amalgamated with music and sound effects. Their unique blends of sound provided the musical background for such films as Bells of Atlantis (1952) and Forbidden Planet (1956). Artists such as John Cage flocked to the Barron’s home studio, which served as an epicenter for electro-accoustic music when support of the medium was non-existent.

Bebe and Louis divorced in 1970, but her contributions to composition continued with a piece entitled Mixed Emotions (2000) commissioned by the University of California, Santa Barbara. The Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States presented Bebe with the SEAMUS Award for her work in the field of electro-acoustic music.

She is survived by her husband Leonard Neubauer and son Adam.