FRANK WARTINGER: What first got you into music?
SCOTT H: In middle school chorus class, we were shown a VHS of music from around the world. There was a chapter on the North Indian classical tradition that moved me, and I became fascinated by the sitar. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a teacher or an instrument to practice on in my town, but since I also loved the sound of the guitar, I began to learn that instead.
When did you know you wanted to do music professional?
Making music gave me the best feeling I had ever experienced, so I thought that if I could turn that into a career, my life would be amazing. I started having this dream during the heyday of recorded music sales, the late ‘90s, so from my vantage point it didn't seem impossible to make a living performing/recording music. I was also a big fan of video games and the music used in them. That industry was growing steadily and I thought if a career as a recording artist petered out, I could parlay my skills as a composer there for a more "straight" job.
What was it about video game music that interested you?
I liked the wide variety of styles and arrangements that were possible. While there were hard limitations for what was technologically possible to reproduce on a console's chip, there didn't yet seem to be established norms for the compositions. Every game's music had a completely different identity, more so than what I had heard as a layman in film soundtracks.
Who is someone who inspires you, musically?
The Zen Buddhist nun and chef Jeong Kwan is a breath of fresh air to me. I highly recommend seeking out her remarks about creativity, ego, sharing, time's nature and power. These days, I'm finding myself more and more inspired musically by creators in other disciplines than I am by music or other musicians.
What is your current monitoring setup for performances and rehearsals?
We just use whatever the house monitors happen to be. I would someday like to use in-ear monitors to be able to control the volume granularly and preferably on the fly. I currently use custom-molded musician’s earplugs for both rehearsals and shows to protect my hearing. They most recently saved my ears while attending a Weedeater show; the sound quality was still full and clear, so I appreciated knowing my hearing was protected while still enjoying the sound. Sometimes more harmonically complex music it can be a little difficult to distinguish detail, e.g. complex chords. Also, it does take some getting used to having something plugging up your ear canals.
Hearing Conservation is a term that means maintaining one’s current hearing health by reducing the risk of acquiring hearing damage from noise/music exposure. How do you think Hearing Conservation plays into your career and life?
I live in a famously loud city, New York, and there is no lack of environments where my ears must be protected from harsh and loud ambient noise. I'm interested in protecting my hearing, and I'm also interested in protecting my mental health and stress levels that are effected by a cacophonous environment. It can be easy to overlook how a mental state can be influenced by sensory overload.
Most people have a quick-draw answer to "what is your favorite color?" How would you answer "what is your favorite sound?"
Rain softly pelting your windows loud enough to wake you up in the middle of the night but not so loud that you can't fall back asleep to its song, probably.
This is the first Sound Profile Interview, a new series focusing on the key element at the heart of Music Audiology: the musician. Frank Wartinger, Au.D., and Earmark Hearing Conservation are dedicated to improving the hearing health of all musicians through Philadelphia’s Musicians’ Clinic as well as mobile services throughout the Philadelphia region.