Carter Burwell

Digital Sound | 2016

Carter Burwell was born on November 18, 1954. He graduated from Harvard College in 1977. While at Harvard, he studied animation with Mary Beams and George Griffin, electronic music with Ivan Tcherepnin, and pursued a course of independent study at the MIT Media Lab (then known as the Architecture Machine Group). After graduation he became a teaching assistant in the Harvard Electronic Music Studio. In 1979, his animated film Help, I’m Being Crushed to Death by a Black Rectangle won first place at the Jacksonville Film Festival and second place at the Ottawa International Animation Festival. From 1979 to 1981 Burwell worked as chief computer scientist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Long Island, where he wrote software for image processing, lab automation, and protein analysis. From 1982 to 1987, he worked at the New York Institute of Technology where he began as a computer modeler and animator but later became director of digital sound research. During this time, he worked on many computer-animated television spots and films, ultimately contributing models and animation to the Japanese anime Lensman. During the 1980s, Burwell pursued a parallel career in music, playing with a number of bands in New York City. He was also writing music for dance, theatre, and film. Since this time, he has scored a number of feature films—including Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, Being John Malkovich, and The Kids Are All Right—while teaching and continuing to compose dance, theater, and other work.

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