There are more than this - but these are some of the big players who are freshest in my mind at the moment!
  1. Hildegard Von Bingen
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    She is super OG! Medieval times OG! Even though polyphony was frowned upon at this point, she was still pushing some boundaries w/ her melismatic monophony. Her chants are beautiful, she was super rad, and she was a nun! Can't beat that!
  2. Clara Schumann
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    While her husband was busy hallucinating or whatever, she was busy bringing home the bacon! Supported her family by playing piano & she was a gifted composer. But the times! Ya know? Women weren't supposed to be 'doing things' - you should read a/b her and listen to her music - she was a badass & it's a pity she wasn't given the space to fully realize her talent! Also, look at her beautiful, weathered, face! Agh!
  3. Bonnie Miksch
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    My hometown hero! I want to live inside of her music! Does that even make sense? It's interesting and beautiful and delightfully modern! I don't know much a/b her as a person, but my guess is that she's just as awesome as her music!
  4. Pauline Oliveros
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    This won't be for everybody, but I really want it to be! Look up deep listening, sonic awareness, and The San Francisco Tape Music Center. She is such a badass, she plays the accordion, and was one of the main reasons I briefly considered getting a masters in music - for the remote chance of studying with her! If you like experimental, electronic type music - check her out!
  5. Meredith Monk
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    I have to admit that sometimes I don't really like her music, but she is important to know about! Her music has a way of sounding familiar, possibly b/c it can have a folk like and earth-y quality and also totally insane at the same time! But she is super rad, she knows how to use her voice, and if you have ever seen The Big Lebowski - you've heard her music!
  6. Ruth Crawford Seeger
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    My favorite!!!! She was part of this group of composers called the 'ultramoderns' and wrote some pretty awesome stuff including one one of my favorite works and explorations in the power of dynamics - String Quarter 1931 - mvt III 😍😍😍 ! She was also hugely important in the preservation of American folk music and was Pete Seeger's stepmom! What? So rad! Love her so much!
  7. Joanna Newsom
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    I'm definitely including her in this list, because she goes so far beyond the singer/songwriter thing! She takes care in every note and can write killer lyrics. Her songs are light and fun and deep and dark simultaneously!! I am such an admirer and so excited she is going on tour this year! Can't wait!