Barton & Priscilla McLean: Writings by and About

Table of Contents

Selected articles by Barton and/or Priscilla McLean

  1. The McLean Mix: Philosophies and Soliloquies by Barton McLean. Found in "Asterisk A Journal of New Music," Vol 2 #2, May, 1976. Ann Arbor, Michigan.An often humorous early cross-section of the first concerts and tours by Priscilla and Barton McLean, as they begin their first tentative steps into touring. Page A1.

  2. Fire and Ice: A Query by Priscilla McLean.  Seen in "Perspectives of New Music, " Fall/Winter 1977. Some valuable insights into the theoretical basis of what she calls "imago - abstract" sounds, which are those sounds that are both electronic and that have a subconscious meaning in the human mind beyond their immediate context. Forms a theoretical basis for electronic sounds that are outside traditional tonal pitch-rhythm contexts. Page A2

  3. Coping with Shattered Illusions by Barton McLean. Appearing in "Polyphony" (which was the forerunner of "Electronic Musician," Jan/Feb. 1980, pp. 9-11, 20.  Some theoretical and practical considerations in composing for live instrument and tape, with examples from McLean's "Dimensions" series.  

  4. Zagreb's Music Biennale No. 11  by Priscilla McLean.  In "Musical America," October, 1981, pp. 33-34. This is one of several reviews and articles Priscilla wrote for Musical America, and gives an insight into the contemporary music scene in Europe at that time period, along with some personal experiences of The McLean Mix as they participated in this festival.

  5. The McLean Mix:  Inner Tension of the Surrealistic by Priscilla and Barton McLean.  AWC News (American Women Composers), January 1982, Vol. 3 #3, pp. 8-14.  Another slice of McLean Mix touring and a theoretical basis for their approach as analogous with Surrealism.  

  6. Symbolic Extension and its Corruption of Music by Barton McLean. Appearing in "Perspectives of New Music", Fall-Winter 1981-Spring-Summer 1982 (Vol. 20, nos. 1 &2).  In this seminal piece, McLean explores ideas by cultural anthropoligist Edward T. Hall, Marshall McLuhan, Trevor Wishart, Rollo May, they apply to some of the fundamental crises in education (music composition, music theory, and musicology). Central to his theme is how the "extension" process of of the human mind (building ever greater theoretical models which ultimately relate to only themselves and not the underlying music they are subsuming) has fundamentally corrupted much of what we teach in music theory, history, and composition. A scathing critique.

  7. The McLean Mix Tours Australia -- First Impressions by Priscilla and Barton McLean. "Sounds Australian" (the equivalent to the American Music Center publication), #28, Summer, 1990, pp. 32-33. A vivid account of The McLean Mix Pacific Rim tour and some comparisons between new music support in Australia, New Zealand, and the USA.

  8. Touring the South Pacific:  Images of Faraway Places by Barton McLean.  Appearing in the "Journal SEAMUS ," Nov. 1990.  Describes an extended tour-adventure of the McLeans'  duo The McLean Mix in the Pacific Rim (Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii), along with insights into their respective contemporary music scenes and composers.

  9. Composition with Sound and Light by Barton McLean.  "Leonardo Journal," Vol 2, No. 1, pp. 19-22, 1992.  McLean describes two interlocking aspects of his work: (1) the MIDI keyboard-controlled Sparkling Light Console  which he developed, along with the esthetic considerations of developing a new abstract medium of light with which to compose.

  10. The McLean Mix Muses Upon the Ultimate Musical Instrument  by Priscilla and Barton McLean. "Experimental Musical Instruments," Sept. 1994, pp. 20-23.  Two ideas run through this article.  First, esthetic and practical consideration of adoping natural sounds (the "ultimate musical instrument") to a compositional approach.  Second, exploring how the McLeans invent instruments of their own (natural or hi-tech) as their compositional needs require.

  11. A Professional Composer's View of the Theory/Composition Curriculum and its Relevance to the Community-at-Large  by Barton McLean. "The SCI Newsletter," Vol. 25, #7, Aug/Sept. 1995.  This is the piece which stirred a hornet's nest of controversy among university teachers of composition and theory. These reverberations echoed through two years of rebuttal and counter-rebuttal in the SCI Newsletter's pages. It explores the relevance of today's typical comp/theory curricula and its relevance (or lack thereof) to the larger arts community and to the career prospects of the students.  

  12. In Search of an Audience:  Outside the Bubble  by Barton McLean.  "Journal SEAMUS," April '96, Vol. 11, #1, pp. 4-7.  Where have the large, enthusiastic audiences for electroacoustic music of the 60's and 70's gone?  McLean explores some reasons for the separation of abstract electroacoustic music from the arts community audience in general, and offers personal insights into how he and his wife Priscilla, as The McLean Mix, grapple with this problem as they make their full-time living from touring.  

  13. TUNUGAN -- A Report  by Priscilla McLean. "Society of Composers, Inc., Newsletter," Vol 27 #6, June/July '97. The McLean Mix was  recently chosen as the USA representative of the International Asian Composers League Festival -- TUNUGAN in Manila, Philippines.   Priscilla's subsequent report details fascinating insights into how Asian serious composers interact, along with similarities and differences between Western and Asian composers. Included is a hair-raising account of the McLean Mix's outdoor performance in a courtyard with an impending typhoon on the horizon.

  14. Planting the Seeds of Music Technology in Borneo  by Priscilla McLean. "Journal SEAMUS," Vol. 13, #1, April, '98, pp. 4-7. "The trip of a lifetime," as Barton and Priscilla McLean, at the invitation of the government of Malaysia, establish residency at the Universiti Malaysia-Sarawak for 4 months, undergoing extensive field trips into the pristine jungle, living with former headhunter tribes, partaking of the rich Islamic culture, recording and documenting tribal musics and nature sounds never before heard outside the country. 

  15. JAMBORI RIMBA: Audience-Interactive Installation  by Barton McLean.  This is a companion to the above and describes what the McLeans did as a final project for their residency in Malaysia --  a project which was subsequently broadcast nationally over the Malaysia TV -1 network.

  16. How to Survive and Prosper as Revealed by the "Newsletter Nine"  by Barton McLean.  "Society of Composers, Inc. "Newsletter," Vol. 13, Aug/Sept '98.  As a member of the Executive Committee of SCI (Independent Composer Representative), McLean coordinated a series of articles in the SCI Newsletter by nine independent composers who are succeeding in making a full-time living from their work. Many lessons were gleaned from these pieces, including a few real surprises. In this article, McLean summarizes his conclusions drawn from working with these nine artists.

  17. The Ultimate Symphonius 2000,  by Barton McLean.  Journal SEAMUS, Fall, 1999.  McLean narrates the inception and execution of this most elaborate of all the McLean Mix audience-interactive events.

  18. What May Happen to Your Music After You Die and What You Can Do About It,  by Barton McLean. Groundbreaking, exhaustive research article appearing in the August, 2001 issue of the American Music Center's NewMusicBox. August, 2001. This links directly to the AMC site.

  19. The Nuts and Bolts of Touring for a Living. by Barton McLean.  This major article defines what the McLean Mix is about and how it has managed to survive as a full time professional experimental music/media duo for 25+ years. For newcomers to the field, as well as seasoned professionals, this is a must read.  Published in JOURNAL SEAMUS, Vol. 20 # 1, Fall, 2008.  

  20. The Electronic Marriage by Joseph Dalton.  The Albany Times Union, 1/16/05. This is a 2-page feature article in the Arts Section of the Sunday paper, detailing various aspects of the McLeans' professional as well as personal lives with many lively anecdotes spanning their more than 40 year history together.    

  21. KYMA 7 and a Search for the Ultimate Sound Creation Instrument. By Barton McLean. A comprehensive review of the latest software/hardware design upgrade from Symbolic Sound, by one who has spent two intensive months as a beta tester for the program. March, 2015.

A Series of articles and reviews by Barton McLean relating to the new Experimental Media Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at RPI:

  1. "FEED" by Kurt Hentschlager.  A review by Barton McLean in JOURNAL SEAMUS, Vol. 19, #2, Spring, 2008, pp. 26-7.

  2. Reflections on the EMPAC Opening.  A description of the festivities, performances, and installations at the EMPAC opening, with musings on what this might mean for the future. SEAMUS NEWSLETTER, Winter, 2008-9

  3. EMPAC's Exciting and Provocative Fall Season. EMPAC continues to produce a unique blend of multidisciplinary.multimedia events events mostly unavailable to USA audiences.  Will submit to SEAMUS NEWSLETTER for its spring, 2009 edition.


"In short, these are 3 DVDs that will provide a lot of sonic and visual delight, and at their very best (In the Beginning, Jambori Rimba, Jewels of January, Magic at Xanadu, to list my favorites) are contemporary works of sweep and power which have nothing to do with the models of popular music, but which convey their emotional impact as effectively as anything from the pop sphere." ... Warren Burt in Wusik Sound Magazine


  1. Priscilla and Barton McLean. 3 DVDs. Classical Net . Comprehensive review of the three DVDs by Raymond Tuttle.  8/09.

  2. The McLean Mix: 3 DVDs.  by Warren Burt. In Wusik Sound Magazine, 11/09.  A most detailed, articulate,  and complete review of these DVDs.  

  3. THREE NEW DVDS SHOWCASE MCLEAN MIX. By Joseph Dalton, Albany Times-Union, 10/29/09.  An insightful, descriptive piece.  

  4. Three DVDs from The McLean Mix: Computer Music Journal. Fall 2010, Vol. 34, No. 3: 81–85. Reviewed by  Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner. Comprehensive review from one who has experienced most of the works in live performance.

  5. Three DVDs from the McLean Mix: SEAMUS NEWSLETTER, Jan. 2010. Reviewed by Mark Zaki.

Recent Reviews of McLean CDs

"Again and again, The McLean Mix comes up with awesome sounds and textures - and I mean "awesome" quite literally. Even though this is modern music that places communication with a non-specialist audience high on its agenda, listeners will get no free rides from it. They'll have to put aside their prejudices and hear it for what it is."  ...Raymond Tuttle in

  1. Comprehensive review of three Capstone CDs:  Gods, Demons and the Earth, Rainforest Images, The Electric Performer, appearing in 20th Century Music

  2. Defining review of the four Capstone McLean Mix releases by Ray Tuttle in, 2001.

  3. Review of Gods, Demons and the Earth and Rainforest Images in Today, a weekend arts magazine published in Manila, Philippines.

  4. Review of The Electric Performer in American Record Guide

  5. Review of Forgotten Shadows in International Record Review

  6. Review of Forgotten Shadows in Soundtracks

  7. Review of Forgotten Shadows in Fanfare

  8. Review of Forgotten Shadows on Classical Net by Raymond Tuttle

  9. Review of The McLean Mix and the Golden Age of Electronic Music from web site

  10. Review of The McLean Mix and the Golden Age of Electronic Music from Jazzbeat

  11. Review of The McLean Mix and the Golden Age of Electronic Music from The American Record Guide

  12. Review of The McLean Mix and the Golden Age of Electronic Music from Forced Exposure web site

  13. Review of Rainforest Images from Experimental Musical Instruments magazine

  14. Review of Rainforest Images from Journal SEAMUS

PRISCILLA McLEAN'S "HANGING OFF THE EDGE" — "Revelations of a Modern Troubadour"

A New Autobiography from iUniverse, Inc., "Editor's Choice" REVIEWS

Barton McLean: Academic Resume

Priscilla McLean: Academic Resume


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