During the '60s and '70s, he toured with jazz and rock groups (Carla Bley Band, Bill Dixon, the Prime Movers, etc.). His nickname came in part from performing the social comment pieces collectively entitled "'Blue' Gene Tyranny's Genetic Transformations" while simultaneously appearing on stage with Iggy Pop. From 1971 to 1982, he moved to the San Francisco Bay area and worked as lecturer and instructor in the music department of Mills College and as recording technician at the Center for Contemporary Music. He moved to New York in 1983 and lives in Brooklyn. He has performed in hundreds of concerts throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe, Mexico, Brazil, and Japan, and has recorded and performed with many other composers (Laurie Anderson, Robert Ashley, David Behrman, John Cage, William Duckworth, Jon Gibson, Peter Gordon, Brenda Hutchinson, Leroy Jenkins, Ben Manley, and others). He composed harmonies and piano improvisations for Ashley's opera-for-television Perfect Lives (Channel Four, London), and has created more than 40 soundtracks for film and video.
His theater and dance collaborations include pieces with the Talking Band, the Otrabanda Company, performance artist Pat Oleszko, dance and TV scores for Timothy Buckley, Rocky Bornstein, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, the Creach/Koester Dance Company, Trisha Brown, Steve Paxton, and Stefa Zawerucha.
He has received a Bessie Award for Composition, a N.Y.F.A. Composer Fellowship, and a N.Y.S.C.A. grant. He was artist-in-residence at Bucknell University in 1992 and a featured composer at the 2001 Western Illinois University New Music Festival. Tyranny has authored Music Beyond the Boundaries with Mark Slobin (Generation, University of Michigan, 1965), the avant-garde section of the All Music Guide and hundreds of pieces and essays for the company's website, "Sound Changing Its Own Behavior" in Ashley's Music With Roots in the Aether (Edition MusikTexte Köln), and other texts. His work is discussed in Cole Gagne's Sonic Transports and Soundpieces 2: Interviews With American Composers, William Duckworth's Talking Music, Kyle Gann's American Music in the Twentieth Century, and other books.