ListN Up: Sarah Hennies (October 30, 2020)

ListN Up is a series of weekly artist-curated playlists. Born from a desire to keep artists sharing and connected during times of isolation, ListN Up offers an intimate sonic portrait of contemporary artists by showcasing the diverse and stylistically varied music that influences their creative practice. 

Sarah Hennies is an independent composer and percussionist in Ithaca, NY. She is the recipient of a 2019 Foundation for Contemporary Arts grants to artists award and a 2016 New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in music/sound. She is currently a visiting professor in electronic music at Bard College.

Hey everybody, my name is Sarah Hennies. I’m a composer in Ithaca, New York, and I’m talking to you from my home right now. The playlist that I put together for you is a collection of songs and pieces that I consider to be pivotal moments in my life, or things that changed the way I thought about music or what was possible in music. It’s an eclectic mix of several different kinds of things, and I hope you enjoy it!

“Flax” by Pitchblende

While admittedly not as groundbreaking as I thought at the time, I saw this band at the tender age of 14-years-old, and it opened my eyes to adventurous music and DIY punk rock.

Metastasis by Iannis Xenakis

I heard this as a senior in high school sitting in a study carrel at the University of Louisville music library, and I will never forget the shock and wonder I felt at the opening glissando. I didn’t know music could sound like this, one of the most important listening experiences of my life.

Futility 1964 by Herbert Brün

Herbert’s seminar in experimental composition changed my life, the most important thing I did as a student. This piece is the quintessential result of his brilliant thinking on sound and language.

The Great Learning: Paragraph 7 by Cornelius Cardew, performed by The Scratch Orchestra

Cardew showed me that you can make music without any musical “skill.” The Great Learning is a monumental shrine to egalitarian collective music making.

“When I Get Home” by Baby Dee

Baby Dee is the first transfeminine musician I ever encountered. This stunning, delicate song and its message of childhood exploration and parental abuse touched me deeply.

“Frozen” by Souled American

The south is strange; I grew up in Kentucky. Souled American’s impossibly slow, bizarre country music is the perfect distillation of songwriting and weirdness.

Le point et la ligne by Baudouin Oosterlynck

The most I could ever hope for in a piece of music. It is a perfectly strange, elegant, wonderfully balanced piece of unexplainable music. My favorite piece of music; I talked about it in my wedding vows.

“Are You Who You Think You Are?” by The Spook School

Nye Todd is the first person I ever saw declare their transness on stage. It was a pivotal moment in my life that came in a dizzying display of gleeful fun and joy.


UNEVEN MEASURES is a series dedicated to amplifying today’s women, trans, and nonbinary artists on the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment leading up to the 2020 presidential election. This series is made possible through a generous grant from The Elizabeth & Michel Sorel Charitable Organization Inc. to the American Composers Forum and their partnership with I CARE IF YOU LISTEN. The Sorel Organization is committed to supporting gender equity in music and addressing systemic inequities by providing greater visibility for women musicians from underrepresented communities.

I CARE IF YOU LISTEN is a program of the American Composers Forum, funded with generous donor and institutional support. A gift to ACF helps support the work of ICIYL. Editorial decisions are made at the sole discretion of the editor-in-chief. For more on ACF, visit the “At ACF” section or