. A childhood studying classical violin & composition (from the age of 3)
. session musician on various sessions, from jazz to motown
. a stint replacing Pete Seeger in The Weavers
. study of electronic music at Mills Uni, with teachers such as Stockhausen & Oliveros
. playing an important role in the development of the synthesizer in popular music (for example on records
by The Monkees, The Byrds, Stevie Wonder, George Harrison & The Doors)
. expanding the use of electronic music & special effects in soundtracks such as Apocalypse now, Love
Story, Invasions of the body snatchers, The Munsters & tons more
Since the late 1960's his interest in natural soundscapes has resulted in 50 albums & some 4,000 + hours of recordings in his archives. He's also found time to write some of the most respected books on the subject.
His latest 'The great animal orchestra' has just been published to acclaim & was the BBC's book of the week. By the time you read the first few pages you soon understand why his books are held in such high regard - they communicate. Now, that might seem like an obvious requirement of any book on a subject such as sound but its far from a common occurrence.
What comes off the page is Bernie's need to listen, his enjoyment of that act & his ability to keep searching.
Having no doubt been asked more questions about his approach to field recording than most I still decided to ask him to take part in the 'four questions' series of interviews & he was happy to do so:
JrF: when & why did you become interested in field recording ?
JrF: how do you use your field recordings in your own artistic output ?
JrF: do you regard 'natural' sounds as a musical element (bearing in mind that the conventional definition of 'music' is rapidly becoming obsolete) or as sound ? is this definition important ? does it matter ?
JrF: has the act of making field recording had an effect (positive or negative) on the way you listen to your everyday surroundings and how has it affected the way you listen to other music and sound (if at all) ?
BK: Yes. Certainly. Since I don't see very well, my whole world has always been informed by sound. Learning to hear the structures of biophonies has definitely helped me experience soundscapes with more definition and with more richness. That goes for music, too. Although, I tend to favor more contemporary music that comes closer to the way sound is expressed in the natural world (composers like Britten, Ives, Schafer, etc)