An Enquirer.com Special Section FRIDAY, MAY 14, 1999
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shark

THE AQUARIUM
- Introduction
- Going there
- The murals
- The music
- Shop and Eat
- Beginnings

THE EXHIBITS

- World Rivers
- Shore Gallery
- Touch Pool
- Bizarre & Beautiful
- Dangerous & Deadly
- Riverbank
- 'Gator Bayou
-Amazon Rain Forest
- Coral Reef
- Jellyfish Gallery
- Kingdom of Penguins
- Ray Nursery
- Repopulation
- Surrounded by Sharks

THE STAFF

- Staff and keepers
Oceanic Adventures Newport Aquarium] [Building image]
Music sets the mood

        Walk into the 'Gator Bayou exhibit and you instinctively know that danger lurks. You can feel it. How? The background music puts your senses on alert.

        The sounds you hear as you walk through the Newport Aquarium are the work of Shari Sumner. She recorded and compiled all the music for each of the 16 exhibits.

        She collected authentic ocean, river and lake sounds for almost a year. Recording equipment in hand, she trekked to beaches and riverbanks in Hawaii and California, wetlands, an aviary and her own back yard. She listened for things to convey the mood appropriate to each exhibit.

        Ms. Sumner mixed the sounds until she achieved a four-minute audio for each that was geographically accurate.

        Each recording is played in a continuous loop, helping to create a mood — floating with a sea of jellyfish, for example, standing on the seashore or or caught in a swarm of ocean predators.

        “For the Gator Bayou I recorded insects common to the area, like katydids, crickets and mosquitoes, as well as different kinds of water - dripping, lapping - and the swimming noises of a gator moving through the water,” she says by phone from her Costa Mesa, Calif., home.

        The finished audio for this particular gallery was the culmination of 12 separate sound tracks. Ms. Sumner layered each track until she achieved the precise sounds of the bayou.

        “In the 'Gator Bayou I want to give visitors that swirly feeling, like they're being drawn under towards danger,” she says.

        Notice how the crickets suddenly go silent.

        “That's what crickets do when danger approaches. So even if someone isn't thinking about it at the time, they'll instinctively know that something is about to happen because the crickets have stopped.”

        Ms. Sumner wanted the ominous sounds of ever-present danger to greet visitors to the shark gallery. She got just that by combining the mournful sounds of whales, with electronically altered string music.

        A graduate of the University of California at Irvine, Ms. Sumner spent 16 years as a disc jockey. (Detroit was the closest she got to the Tristate.)

        She's considered an “audio environments specialist,” working on special assignments as well as voice-over projects. (That's her voice narrating World Rivers exhibit.)

        She calls the aquarium project “a dream come true,” because it combines her knowledge of recording with her love of the ocean.

        “I can finally feel productive about the thousands of hours I spent lounging and swimming at the beach as a kid.”

       



The Tristate is Goin' Fishin'
Going to the Aquarium
Murals bring seascapes to life
- Music sets the mood for 16 exhibits
Shop, eat and watch a movie
The making of an aquarium
World Rivers
Shore Gallery
Touch Pool
Bizarre & Beautiful
Dangerous & Deadly
Riverbank
'Gator Bayou
Amazon Rain Forest
Coral Reef
Jellyfish Gallery
Kingdom of Penguins
Ray Nursery
Repopulation
Surrounded by Sharks
Meet the staff and keepers

Copyright 1999 The Cincinnati Enquirer, a Gannett Co. Inc. newspaper.
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