Susan Alcorn (born 1953) is an American composer, improvisor, and pedal steel guitarist.
Having started out playing guitar at the age of twelve, she quickly immersed herself in folk music, blues, and the pop music of the 1960s. A chance encounter with blues musician Muddy Waters steered her towards playing slide guitar. By the time she was twenty-one, she had immersed herself in the pedal steel guitar, playing in country and western swing bands in Texas.
Soon, she began to combine the techniques of country-western pedal steel with her own extended techniques to form a personal style influenced by free jazz, avant-garde classical music, Indian ragas, Indigenous traditions, and various folk musics of the world. By the early 1990s her music began to show an influence of the holistic and feminist “deep listening” philosophies of Pauline Oliveros.
Though mostly a solo performer, Alcorn has collaborated with numerous artists including Pauline Oliveros, Eugene Chadbourne, Peter Kowald, Chris Cutler, Joe Giardullo, Caroline Kraabel, Le Quan Ninh, Sean Meehan, Joe McPhee, LaDonna Smith, Mike Cooper, Walter Daniels, Ellen Fullman, Jandek, George Burt, Janel Leppin, Michael Formanek, Ellery Eskelin, Fred Frith, Maggie Nicols, Evan Parker, Johanna Varner, Zane Campbell and Mary Halvorson .
She has written on the subject of music for the UK magazine Resonance and CounterPunch. Her article “The Road the Radio, and the Full Moon” was included in “The Best Music Writing of 2006” published by Da Capo Press.
Solo recordings include Uma (Loveletter 2000), Curandera (Uma Sounds 2005), Concentration (Recorded 2005), “And I Await the Resurrection of the Pedal Steel Guitar” (Olde English Spelling Bee 2007), “Touch This Moment” (Uma Sounds 2010), and “Soledad” (Relative Pitch 2015).