Irv Teibel experimented with recordings to induce meditative and altered states for years before he conceived of “Intonation,” which along with “Tintinnabulation” might be described as the literal new age entries in the already proto-new age Environments series. Teibel first became interested in chanting while creating the synthetic bell tones of “Tintinnabulation.” The original “om” chant for Environments 7 was organized by Patrick Bresnan, a young California professor of Eastern philosophy, and captured in a Palo Alto gymnasium. “I managed to wangle an evening class through Adult Education which could be pretty much whatever I wanted,” Bresnan recalled. “My intention was that it be about basic yoga and meditation. Twenty four young scholars signed up, and it quickly became evident that what they were most interested in was group chanting... I soon had more than 200 regular attendees (non-registered), all ages. We had to move to a large gym, and for the better part of the 90 minutes, to the accompanying strong scent of pot, everyone wanted solely to chant on the sound of OM (Aum). Frankly, it was glorious! Naturally, I couldn’t resist recording it.” Teibel also apparently tested recordings made in Dharamsala, a cathedral in France, and a ashram in upstate New York. He eventually scrapped those tapes and employed Kirk Nurock’s Natural Sound Workshop, a 10-person vocal ensemble based in New York. The liner notes go into great detail to explain how “it is a proven fact that meditation can improve your life.” Teibel also stresses that “both eastern and western cultures have used various forms of music to aid in contemplation. Unfortunately, these musical forms are steeped in cultural and religious mnemonics, which greatly restrict widespread use. INTONATION has no cultural or religious meaning.”
Side B of Environments 7, “Summer Cornfield,” was recorded in a steamy Illinois cornfield at noon, using what Irv Teibel cryptically described as “special high-frequency microphones,” the tape rolling at 30 IPS for maximum fidelity. He shelved the recording for several years, until listener tests revealed that people couldn’t ignore the sounds. As an inside joke, Teibel added to the mix a Bluebottle fly, recorded at the Syntonic offices. Nicknamed Oscar, the fly went on to become the company’s unofficial mascot. The insect sounds captured here eventually found their way into the sound design for Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven. Teibel states on the LP jacket: “Of all the sounds Syntonic Research has experimented with in the last decade, none has proven so adaptable to sustained contemplative purposes.” Use at your own risk.
- Environments Intonation
- Environments Summer Cornfield