Bernie Krause was born in 1938. By age 3-1/2 he began to study violin and by age 4 classical composition. He performed on cello, bass, viola, harp, banjo, and mandolin, he ultimately settled on the guitar as his main instrument. As late as 1955 not a single American music institution to which he applied would accept guitar as a primary instrument. Nevertheless, Krause contributed as a studio guitarist to jazz, folk and pop sessions, and occasionally, at Motown during the late 50s. He also worked as a recording engineer and producer in Ann Arbor while an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. Krause joined The Weavers in 1963, occupying the position created by co-founder Pete Seeger until they disbanded in early 1964.
After the breakup of The Weavers, Krause moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to study electronic music at Mills College, a time when avant-garde composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pauline Oliveros lectured and performed there. It was coincidentally the early experimental stages of analog synthesizers, with Don Buchla and Robert Moog testing the expressive range of modular instruments. During this time Krause met Paul Beaver and together, they formed Beaver & Krause. The team played Moog synthesizer on the Monkees recording, "Star Collector" (1967), one of the first pop group recordings to feature synthesizer. In 1968 they released The Nonesuch Guide to Electronic Music which was part instructional and part a demonstration of the functions of analog synthesis. It was also the first West Coast recording to utilize Dolby A301 (without meters) noise reduction as an inherent part of their production. Beaver & Krause went on to perform on hundreds of sessions for some of the more important names in music of the time, including The Byrds, The Doors, Stevie Wonder and George Harrison and Van Morrison. In November 1968 Krause was asked by Harrison to demonstrate the synthesizer after performing on a session for an Apple artist, Jackie Lomax, in LA. Unknown to Krause, without his permission and expressly against his wishes, a recording was made of that demonstration and an unauthorized version was released by Harrison titled "No Time Or Space", one side on Harrison's Electronic Sound album released the following year.
Between 1967 and 1972, Beaver & Krause released five albums together, effectively defining the beginning of both the New Age music and Electronica musical movements. After Beaver's death in 1975, Krause found himself more drawn to the recording of natural soundscapes. At the age of 40 he returned to school and completed a doctoral degree in Creative Arts with an internship in bio-acoustics.
Beaver & Krause's album In A Wild Sanctuary, a synthesized music album recorded in 1968 and '69, was the first to incorporate natural soundscapes as an integral component of the orchestration, to address the theme of ecology, and coincidentally, it was also the first album to be encoded in quadraphonic sound and surround sound.
Since 1979, Krause has concentrated almost exclusively on the recording and archiving pristine sound environments from around the world. These recordings are commissioned as works of art and science by museums for their dioramas and sound installations in many countries, and as ambient tracks for numerous feature films, and as over 50 downloadable field recording albums from the world's rare habitats. The Krause Natural Soundscape Collection now consists of more than 4,500 hours of recordings of over 15,000 species, marine and terrestrial. Sadly, over half of these habitats are now either altogether silent or can no longer be heard in any of their original form.
Krause's 1988 CD album, Gorillas in the Mix (Rykodisc), is composed entirely from samples of animal sounds, played from sampling keyboards.
In 2007, Krause demonstrated at the O'Reilly Media Where 2.0 Conference a KML layer to Google Earth and Google Maps that made it possible for the first time, to hear soundscapes worldwide. Currently, he is seeking an academic home for his archive and related soundscape programs.
July, 2014, the Cheltenham Music Festival will premier "The Great Animal Orchestra: Symphony for Orchestra and Wild Soundscapes," a collaboration with friend and colleague, Richard Blackford, former Balliol College Oxford Composer-in-Residence, that will be performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Martyn Brabbins.
Dr. Krause and his wife, Katherine, live in California.
1967 Beaver & Krause - The Nonesuch Guide to Electronic Music (Nonesuch Records) (Revised and repackaged with new material by Bernie Krause in 1980)
"Soundscape Ecology: The Science of Sound in the Landscape," Bryan C. Pijanowski, Luis J. Villanueva-Rivera, Sarah L. Dumyahn, Almo Farina, Bernie L. Krause, Brian M. Napoletano, Stuart H. Gage, and Nadia Pieretti, www.biosciencemag.org March 2011 / Vol. 61 No. 3 BioScience, 203-216, (ISBN 7-25274-05098-7)
Krause, Bernie, Gage, Stuart H., Joo Wooyeong , "Measuring and interpreting the temporal variability in the soundscape at four places in Sequoia National Park," Landscape Ecology, ISSN 0921-2973, Landscape Ecol, DOI 10.1007/s10980-011-9639-6
Krause, Bernie, "Bioacoustics: Habitat ambience and ecological balance," (Whole Earth Review, No. 57, Winter, 1987, ISBN 0-70989-39594-7)
^Pijanowski, B. C.; Villanueva-Rivera, L. J.; Dumyahn, S. L.; Farina, A.; Krause, B. L.; Napoletano, B. M.; Gage, S. H.; Pieretti, N. (2011). "Soundscape Ecology: The Science of Sound in the Landscape". BioScience61 (3): 203. doi:10.1525/bio.2011.61.3.6.edit
^Jascha Hoffman (2012). "Q&A: Soundscape explorer: Bioacoustician Bernie Krause has travelled the world for decades to gather animal sounds for his Wild Sanctuary archive". Nature485 (308). doi:10.1038/485308a.edit