I remember there was an LP by a professor at Dartmouth. Morgan was his name, perhaps, who had recorded these sferics, and I — of course if there were electromagnetic signals, they’re interesting for me, my alpha waves are signals, electric signals. Anything from nature, we were interested in that in those days, echo location, vibrating wires, things of that kind. And I remembered playing his records and trying to make a piece with the sounds from his recordings. Didn’t turn out very well.
A couple of years passed, and then Ned Sublette, he gave me a book by an American, some scientist, I think a high school teacher, about how to record sounds of electric wires, some jet airplanes, things of that kind — he also mentioned sferics, and he described how to make antennas to pick these up, very simple, homemade antennas anybody could make. So, I was further interested in them.
Let’s see; Pauline Oliveros invited me out to San Diego.1 And I said, well, let’s try to record sferics somehow. We never got them. It was a miserable failure, because there was always an electrical hum around all of these power lines and everything in the city. So, we didn’t succeed too much. We stretched wire hundreds of yards outside, trying to build antennas. Then I discovered this book, and I made my own antenna. I was out in the American West. I drove up eight miles up to a mountain top, and I got away from power lines.
It’s hard to do nowadays. Wherever you go, there’s some telephone wires or something, underground and so forth. And one night, I got beautiful sferics without any hum, without any interference. And so, I finally got — recorded them. I didn’t pursue it. I could have. There’s a phenomenon known as ‘whistlers’ that are little storms up in the ionosphere that hit the magnetic flux lines around the earth, and go from the North Pole all the way to the South Pole making these beautiful sliding sounds. I got a couple of those by accident up there. But then I discovered that there were certain points on earth where they’re very dominant. But I’ve never been interested enough to go and pursue that one idea.