Environments (album series)

Environments is a series of LPs, cassettes, 8-Track cartridges and CDs created by producer and sound recordist Irv Teibel (1938-2010[1]) for Syntonic Research Inc. between 1969 and 1979. The series consists of recordings of natural sounds such as a seashore with crashing waves or a thunderstorm with falling rain, without musical accompaniment. The series helped ignite a worldwide interest in field recordings which resulted in many imitations being released throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s both with, and without, music (i.e.: Moods, Solitudes, Echoes of Nature, Nature Recordings, Gentle Persuasion: The Sounds of Nature, The Sounds of Nature (by Joe Baker), Magic Moods, etc.).[2]

Environments LPs

The original series, distributed by Atlantic Records, comprised 11 long-playing records with a different environment on each side, for 22 total Environments.

Environments 1 (1969)

The initial recording in the series goes back to 1968. Working under the direction of Tony Conrad and Beverly Grant Conrad, Teibel recorded ocean waves at Coney Island for use in their feature film "Coming Attractions" (1970). Teibel immediately sensed the marketability of this material, noting its effect on improving concentration, enhancing sleep and sex, and imparting a sense of calm to the listener. Conrad, who wished to credit Walter De Maria for his prior usage of ocean recordings, was not willing to become a partner in the Syntonic Research enterprise as envisioned by Teibel, so Teibel parted ways with the "Coming Attractions" project. Subsequently Teibel himself felt unsatisfied with his results — though his Uher stereo reel-to-reel tape recorder had faithfully captured the sounds of the surf, he felt that they were less convincing on playback. A friend of Teibel's, Louis Gerstman, had access to an IBM 360 computer, and he and Teibel played around with processing the recordings until eventually the two of them hit upon a series of manipulations (basically some rolling filtering and overdubbing) which sounded 'more real than real.'

For the second side of the LP, Teibel recorded an enclosure of birds at the Bronx Zoo aviary. Later soundscapes were much more naturalistic.

Environments 2 (1970)

Alone among the Environments series, Tintinnabulation is not natural sounds at all but a series of computer-generated bell sounds playable at any speed from 1623 to 78  rpm. The CD reissue opted for the 1623 rpm speed.

The quintessential "field recording" with owls, crows, doves, insects, dogs and geese recorded early one morning in June 1969.

Environments 3 (1971)

The sounds of a spontaneous gathering in Central Park, April 6, 1969 with strolling musicians, dancers, anti-war protesters, and fragments of conversations. This recording presents the unmistakable ambiance of a place and time in culture now gone. Though many of the Environments recordings have been imitated, this one stands alone as a totally unique recording.

A warm summer night (recorded August 1970) deep in the backwoods of Eastern Pennsylvania, surrounded by insects and the occasional distant hound.

Environments 4 (1974)

One of the most-imitated nature recordings, with thunder, lightning and a torrential downpour. This one was recorded from a balcony in the city, unlike Environments 11 which was recorded outdoors in the country.

This recording revealed a paradoxical effect, where low-level high-frequency sounds could make a room seem quieter than when the recording was not playing.

Note: Announced inside Environments 4 but never released: Children at Play/Cocktail Party (was to be Environments 9) and Spanish Train/Cable Car (S.F.) (was to be Environments 10).

Environments 5 (1974)

A stethoscope heartbeat recording which can be used to calm infants, aid meditation or enhance lovemaking.

The soft rush of wind rustling the leaves of a grove in late autumn.

Environments 6 (1974)

Accessible only by airboat, Georgia's verdant wetlands are home to thousands of species both large and small, including growling alligators. Both recordings were taken at the same location, but ten hours apart.

Environments 7 (1976)

A blended chorus of male and female singers intoning an "Om" chant.

The cicadas, grasshoppers and katydids of a Vermont field provide a blanket of pulsating sound, subtly enhanced by further bug sounds from an EML synthesizer.[3]

Environments 8 (1974)

Creaking boards, straining lines, and a taut canvas recorded aboard a 42-foot sloop under full sail.

A small meandering stream near Stockbridge, Massachusetts, with insects, birds and the sound of water flowing over rocks. Another oft-imitated soundscape in the series.

Environments 9 (1979)

Slower and calmer than the Atlantic recordings on Environments 1, with seagulls.

Gently lapping waves on a white sand beach.

Environments 10 (1979)

Songbirds recorded in the Sussex countryside, near the Long Man of Wilmington chalk drawing.

The sound of a vast sea of insects, primarily cicadas.

Environments 11 (1979)

Howling wind and banging shutters in a ski chateau—a recording which seemingly lowers the temperature of any room.

A quiet afternoon of insects and birds gradually gives way to distant thunder, approaching rain squalls, and then a full-on rainstorm.

Environments cassettes

The cassettes, marketed by Syntonic Research, consist of two half-hour sides with the same program on each side (except #14). These are the same recordings as on the LP series.

  1. Slow Ocean
  2. Ultimate Thunderstorm
  3. Wood-Masted Sailboat
  4. English Meadow
  5. Night in the Country
    • Note: This cassette, also sold with the title "Crickets", is not the same recording as Side Two of the Environments 10 album, but instead is thought to be the same recording as Side Two of the Environments 3 album, "Dusk in New Hope, Pennsylvania".
  6. Caribbean Lagoon
  7. Country Stream
  8. Wind in the Trees
  9. Heartbeat
  10. Gentle Rain in a Pine Forest
  11. English Meadow
  12. Intonation
  13. Summer Cornfield
  14. Okefenokee Swamp (Dawn & Dusk)
  15. Country Thunderstorm
  16. Alpine Blizzard

Environments CDs

The compact discs, released by Atlantic Records in 1987, provide 60 minutes of material.

  1. Psychologically Ultimate Seashore [4] - (The original Environments 1 (side 1) recording remixed and extended)
  2. Tintinnabulation [5] - (The original Environments 2 (side 1) recording, slowed to half-normal playing speed to make a full hour)
  3. Dawn & Dusk at New Hope, PA - (The original Environments 2 (side 2) and Environments 3 (side 2) recordings)


  1. Irv Teibel October 9, 1938 - October 28, 2010 Austin, Texas. "Irv Teibel Obituary - Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North". Hosting-tributes-22183.tributes.com. Retrieved 2012-02-15.
  2. Cummings, Jim. "Irv Teibel died this week: Creator of 1970s "Environments" LPs". Earth Ear. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  3. "Julian Cope Presents Head Heritage | Unsung | Reviews | Environments - Induced Meditation". Headheritage.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-12-28.
  4. "Amazon.com: Environments 1: Psychologically Ultimate Seashore: Various Artists: Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2008-12-28.
  5. "Amazon.com: Environments 2: Tintinnabulation (Synthesized Bell Tones): Various Artists: Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2008-12-28.
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