Irv Teibel Archive

Syntonic Research

About Syntonic Research

Irv Teibel early Syntonic name ideas

Irv’s Early Ideas for Company Names

Founded by Irv Teibel (1938-2010), an audio polymath and ambient and New Age music pioneer, Syntonic Research, Inc. is the company behind the influential environments series (1969-1979).

The idea for what would eventually spark a commercial wave of environmental, New Age, and ambient recordings began in a noisy New York City apartment in the late 1960s. Finding it hard to concentrate, relax, or even just think quietly in his busy urban dwelling, a young Irv Teibel sought refuge in natural soundscapes. His earliest recordings were for his own personal use and enjoyment.

Irv began to grasp the more widespread likability and positive psychological effects of environmental sound while working with musician and friend Tony Conrad on Conrad’s film Coming Attractions. He recorded the ocean at Coney Island for the film and then, almost immediately afterward, began outlining plans to share more of the sounds he’d captured with the public via a series of LPs. Teibel worked tirelessly to create a seamless, 30-minute track that eventually became “Psychologically Ultimate Seashore” and appeared on the environments 1 LP. Never content just being a recordist, he also contributed all of the album photography, authored the complete liner notes, designed the distinctive Bauhaus-style packaging and released the LP on his own, newly-founded label, Syntonic Research, Inc. in 1969.

Teibel saw Syntonic Research as a vehicle for continuing experimentation in environmental sound and named it ‘Syntonic’ because the word means ‘responsive to and in harmony with the environment.’ Uncompromising and forever inquisitive, he began a lifelong quest to capture the music of nature in its ideal state, hauling state-of-the-art equipment from the shores of Coney Island, to the Alpine heights of Switzerland, back to the Okefenokee Swamp in Florida, and to countless points in-between. With Irv at the helm, Syntonic Research went on to release 22 soundscapes on 11 discs —all distributed by Atlantic Records— and, at its height, was headquartered atop the Flatiron Building on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Irv Teibel’s greatest legacy, however, may have been sharing the innerworkings of Syntonic Research with his daughter, Jennifer, and sparking her fascination with environmental sound. Shortly after Irv’s death in 2010, Jennifer found herself in possession of his total archives, including storage, research cards, records and photos. After receiving a multitude of requests for access from academics, Jennifer decided to reboot Syntonic Research, remaster and digitize her father’s recordings, and re-introduce the world to the original sounds of environments.

After years of collaboration and help from supporters, Jennifer launched two mobile applications in 2019 and made the full digital archive available to the public, enabling Irv’s life’s work to live on. Nearly a half-century and halfway across the country from where her father’s began, her own quest was complete. Soon afterward, Jennifer donated everything to the New York Public Library, prompting a feature in the New York Times as the interest in Irv’s work began to grow anew.

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The environments LPs were the first publicly available psychoacoustic recordings and helped ignite a frenzy of interest in environmental sound. This website provides a family-curated collection of Teibel’s released and unreleased sound, photographic, and design output —for the first time, in one location— along with details of upcoming projects related to his work and life.