While I have been a filmmaker for most of my working life, my first love has always been music and sound. Following my graduation from SUNY Potsdam's Crane School of Music , I briefly worked as a high school band director in Rockland County.
On and off since then I have been a "working musician" playing trombone in big bands, orchestras as well as the occasional "Hooley" at Wildscreen in Bristol.
The Last "Hooley" at Wildscreen, From L to R; Rolf Johnson, Malcolm Penny, Eamon de Buitlear, Tom Veltre
The same year I got my first trombone I also got my first tape recorder, which ignited a life-long interest in natural sounds and recording technology.
While at music camp in central Ontario I was introduced to the writings of R. Murray Schafer, and his concept of Soundscapes.
My very first big projects at the Bronx Zoo involved field recording and installing surround sound environments in JungleWorld and other major buildings.
This work brought me into contact with some of the most interesting artists in the soundscape field, including Bill Fontana (who worked on the JungleWorld project), Bernie Krause, (who, once was a banjo player with the Weavers, replacing Pete Seeger) and Charlie Morrow (who - honest to God - once staged an underwater concert for fish).
Environmental sound is a subtle and self-deprecating art. Few people appreciate sound installations as an artform in itself.
Rarely do sounds take "center stage," and that is, I believe, the way it should be. Environmental sound works best on a subconscious level; you shouldn't notice it when it's there, but you will miss it the instant it stops.
Sound recordists need to have a quiet, confident manner and well-grounded sense of self worth. After all --you are creating something that is crucial to the expirence of a film, television program or museum exhibit, but totally invisible to the general public.
Below are a few examples of environmental sound recordings I have made in connection with some of our film and video projects in recent years.