What is TortoiseClimbing™
How did it start?
How did it evolve to be what it is?
How is it evolving?
Depending on your philosophy of how, or why things happen, you might think of the creation (or coming into existence) and subsequent evolution of TortoiseClimbing™ as:
Here's insights into how it happened. You be the judge.
Singing was the major catalyst.
David began singing in elementary school choruses. Remember when public schools included music education in elementary, then junior (now reorganized as middle) and high schools? Following that he took voice lessons in college and privately afterward. He continued singing in choruses and doing solos through college, and afterward.
After college David participated in various singing activities, including:
In approximately 1990, based on a desire to create something more lasting than performances, David started investigating possibilities for recording. Then a personal friend asked David to record some duets with him. (He recorded at Bias Recording Studio mostly with partner Mr. Bob Dawson, but occassionally with partner Mr. Bill McElroy.)
After recording several duets, David began recording his first album at Bias with Mr. Bill McElroy as his chief audio engineer and associate producer. The relative geographic convienience of Bias' studio to where David lived didn't hurt. (Bill was one of two partners who established Bias. For details on Bill McElroy see Bill McElroy.)
That first recording of solo ballads was made dominantly with piano accompaniments, but also a few Karaoke tracks. The selections are dominantly from shortly before, during, and after the World War II era. As part of recording that album David created the beginnings of TortoiseClimbing™. In the list of future planned recording releases that album is titled Nostalgic Solos.
Just as David was completing Nostalgic Solos, for personal reasons Mr. Bill McElroy made the decision to phase out of Bias. His assistant, Ms. Gerber-Salins who had helped on Nostolgic Solos, became David's recording engineer and engineered the few final touches to complete that first album. (More on both of them below.)
TortoiseClimbing™ had a limited number of cassettes of Nostalgic Solos made for private release to family and friends.
Current plans include converting the analogue master tapes David has from that initial project to digital and creating a remixed and remastered digital version of that recording for general release.
As noted above, when David recorded Nostalgic Solos, Mr. McElroy was David's recording engineer, assisted by Ms. Gerber-Salins. Bill has a knack for being supportive and helpful to his clients, and getting them comfortable recording in his studio.
One of Mr. McElroy's earlier experiences in the recording industry gives an insight into how incredibly small portions of our world can be.
Prior to Mr. McElroy and his partner starting Bias in 1973, Bill worked as a recording engineer for Ed Greene (I've seen references to him as David) at Edgewood Recording Studio in Northwest Washington, DC. (Initially at 1129 Vermont Avenue NW near Thomas Circle, then moved to 1627 K St., NW). Edgewood was the recording studio where David’s college choir director, Mr. Fague K. Springmann (1933 - 1983) recorded. He had a magnificent bass-baritone operatic voice "to die for."
Mr. Springmann was instrumental in facilitating a number of wonderful choral experiences in David's college life. Those occurred because Mr. Springmann's magnificant, operatic bass-baritone voice was sought after as a solo artist for very well-known classical compositions that also needed a chorus. Mr. Springmann successfully suggested his chorus be used as the supporting chorus for a number of such productions.
He also recorded LPs at Edgewood before and during David's college years when David sang in Mr. Springmann’s choir. In the mid-1960's, David had an opportunity to accompany Mr. Springmann to an editing session at Edgewood. Since that was before multitrack master tapes became common in the late 1960's, editing meant using a razor blade to cut the tape and take out the unwanted recording take, and splice in the desired recording take. (That is done electronically in today's recording software.)
Edgewood was co-founded by Mr. Ed Greene (some bios say David), who was drafted in 1956 and served as a recording engineer for the U.S. Army Band and Chorus in Washington, D.C. Then for some years after his discharge he remained in DC before going back to New York and later to Toronto, Canada.
After the army, while still in Washington, DC he co-founded Edgewood Studios in about 1958 with radio and television commentator Charles Osgood and composer George Wilkins. George later went to work for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts where he created scores and songs as Director of Music for Walt Disney Imagineering. Ed went back to New York in about 1970 as chief engineer for MGM Records. Then in the early 1970's he was brought into television audio mixing by Frank Sinatra, and became a very successful (22-time Emmy-winning and 61 nominations) audio mixer for television production and post production. He died in 2017 at age 82.
As mentioned above, in about 1993 for personal reasons, Mr. McElroy decided to go do other things in life and started fazing out of Bias.
First he followed a dream to work with trains in a couple different jobs. But after a couple years, in order to be near his son, he moved to Richmond, Virginia, and returned to working in a portion of the recording industry by establishing a mastering studio in Scott's Addition, VA (a neighborhood in Richmond). Then in 2001 he established SlippedDISC studio in the little town of Ashland, Virginia. It is just north of Richmond, Virginia, and just south of the King's Dominion theme
As a result of the evolution of people's lives, David is again working with Mr. McElroy at his new studio, SlippedDISC. For more information about Mr. McElroy's new recording and mastering studio, click on SlippedDISCAudio.
After starting to record his first album at Bias, the next significant influence on David's recordings and TortoiseClimbing's evolution was Ms. Heidi Gerber-Salins who came to work at Bias in 1991, with Mr. McElroy was her chief mentor. In that role, she occassionally assisted Mr. McElroy in David's recording sessions as part of her responsibilities.
That too has it’s own back-story regarding Ms. Gerber-Salins' choice after college to pursue becoming a recording engineer, rather than a gourmet cook. After graduating from college, she studied recording engineering at Omega Studios' School of Applied Recording Arts & Sciences. Upon graduation she was hired by Bias.
With Mr. McElroy's departure from Bias in 1993, Ms. Gerber-Salins became David's recording engineer. She assisted with final touches to complete Nostolgic Solos.
Then as David's engineer, they slowly worked on recording what was envisioned as the next album of largely Romantic Duets, dominantly from the early to mid 1990's, many from films and musicals. The accompaniments are dominantly Karaoke sound tracks.
Over the next 4 years dabbling on that project, Ms. Gerber-Salins’ professional relationship expanded to include her fulfilling roles of co-producer, singing collaborator and very importantly, friend. Ms. Gerber-Salins played a significant role in helping David record some wonderful draft duet recordings with various artists.
She also facilitated David becoming involved with DC branches of several music organizations where he met others working in the field.
During work on the draft Romantic Duets album, David's father died in late 1996. In spring 1998 David's mother asked him to record an album of his father's and her favorite, mostly traditional hymns and songs. David and his mother collaborated on selecting which hymns and songs to include.
They also collaborate on deciding quality and distribution of the album. The obvious choices were:
The alternative was:
Her preference was the latter. Namely, she preferred:
That required a significant redirection of TortoiseClimbing requirements from those used for its initial undertakings. That redefined TortoiseClimbing's future.
meant it became necessary for TortoiseClimbing to undertake and accomplish everything done by:
At a high level those new roles for TortoiseClimbing included:
Many of these were significantly new roles from the initial simple concept of making simple recordings, and required numerous new skills. Since there was no supporting organization, mentor, and no budget to hire persons to perform the new roles and detailed business knowledge that record labels, book publishers, and technical programers and website publishers provide, David undertook learning how to perform those roles. He drew on his strong foundational base of knowledge and skills to assist him learning and building the necesary new skills.
The redirection meant Hymns and Songs for Living used all live musicians, often multiple musicians. In addition to the multiple insturmental accompaniments, some numbers wound up including multiple vocal harmonies. That means the musical composition for a number of the hymns on the recording are substantially more complicated production than the simple solos and duets of the Nostalgic Solos and Romantic Duets recordings.
As a result, work on Romantic Duets was put on indefinite hold to enable totally focusing on the Hymns and Songs for Living album. Ms. Gerber-Salins was the Producer and a significant duet vocal talent, for what wound up being Phase I of the audio portion of the project.
As the multiple aspects of this project evolved, TortoiseClimbing™ similarly evolved, taking on increasing multiple new roles, encompassing more responsibilities. Was it serendipitous (or was it destined?)
It is a scintillatingly delicious story, and a critical part of the evolution of TortoiseClimbing™.
Work on recording Hymns and Songs for Living progressed rapidly from 1998 to 1999. Working from the representive list of favorite hymns and songs David and his mother selected for the album, every weekend until she died in August of 1998, David took copies of the latest draft recordings for his mother and her care givers to review progress on the recording. She was thrilled with the progress being made, but sadly only got to hear those rough drafts.
Recording work slowed after David’s mother died.
A related decision made perhaps a year after mother died sometime in 1999, was to greatly expand the initially conceived notes to accompany the recording. That evolved into the extensive companion book, History Through 26 Hymns and Songs. It presents the histories surrounding each of the hymns and songs that shaped what they are. It also includes a historical appendix that summarizes the sweep of history from Christ's death until the past century that influenced development of congregational hymn singing. Lots of footnotes and index cross references are included throughout the book.
In 2001 after 10 years at Bias, Ms. Gerber-Salins left Bias.
To see a summary of the archived information for the extensive list of projects Ms. Gerber-Salins was responsible for as a recording engineer and producer while with Bias, click on this link for Heidi-Gerber-at-Bias. This archived material is from around 2001 when Ms. Gerber-Salins left Bias (and when Bill McElroy established Slipped DISC.) That archived information of Ms. Gerber-Salins' projects at Bias is preserved by TortoiseClimbing™ for your edification.)
Unlike Mr. McElroy, who initially followed his dream of working with trains before he wound up back with a mastering studio and then a new recording studio, Ms. Gerber-Salins directly struck out on her own and started her speciality recording and production company, All-Access-Audio. First based in Reston, VA, and then in far northern Silver Spring, MD.
Basically recording work on the album went onto hold around 2004 because of other life demands in both his and his Producer's lives. Even though Phase I audio work was put on hold about 2004, it was clear the very solid work accomplished could further benefit from additional work to fully achieve mother's preference for this recording of hymns and songs from their favorites.
Fortunately, in their planning for the future, which in 2019 became Phase II of the audio recording, David and Ms. Gerber-Salins continued occassionally meeting for collaboration regaring developing notes/plans for improvements to the Phase I draft of Hymns and Songs for Living.
Then, in about 2013, after Ms. Gerber-Salins' completed her Masters in Communications from Johns Hopkins University, her life again evolved from running All-Access-Audio to becoming a full-time University teaching professor:
When she became a full-time professor, she no longer had discressionary time, and thus the collaboration period planning future work for completing the Hymns and Songs for Living recording ended.
David was trained (inculcated?) with the philosophy of diligently preparing for your future. Surprisingly, many of the things that preceeded in his life, complimented this new endevor. They included:
All provided foundations upon which to learn many of the new roles TortoiseClimbing needed to undertake.
In 2019 David became able to turn his full attention to this project and initiated Phase II of the project. This included the audio recording, completing contents of the companion book, building the supporting an interactive website, and figuring out how to distribute both the album and book.
Uncompleted loose ends for Hymns and Songs then include:
In greater detail those consisted of the parallel activities of:
When Ms. Gerber-Salins became a full-time teaching professor, and thus no longer had sufficient availibility for All Access Audio, luckily Mr. McElroy was again available at his Slipped DISC recording studio, which he had started in Ashland, Virginia the year Ms. Gerber-Salins left Bias.
Ashland was a longer drive, but only slightly longer time. That is because of substantially less traffic on U.S. 301 going south, versus rush-hour traffic around Washington, DC. Plus, now there are greatly enhanced electronic capabilities for exchanging music files for collaborating at a distance. Thus, in somewhat of a full-circle experience, David again began working with Mr. McElroy.
As part of research for the book, History Through 26 Hymns and Songs, David came across Dr. Nancy L. Graham. She reviewed and recommended adopting a standardized style manual, such as the Chicago Manual of Style commonly applied in academic publications.
Mr. David Mather provided copy editing comments to acheive greater internal standardization throughout the book. (David previously worked with Mr. Mather when he served as chief editor for publication of research reports for projects David managed at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.)
Each time David performs a top to bottom edit of the History Through 26 Hymns and Songs, he finds more things needing rewrites. That process has been ongoing off and on, throughout the 2019-21 time period.
When David built the initial static TortoiseClimbing website in 2004, HTML3 was the dominant protocol, CSS was only in its infantile stages and not widely implemented by browsers. He did not use any client or server-side programming. That meant for development of the new interactive website he had to acquire a working knowledge of:
For website credits of the artists who have participated, David was lucky to obtain bio information for most of the artists who were involved years prior in creating the Phase I recordings.
I was successful in finding most of the Phase I musicians because a number are still involved in aspacts of the music business in some way, and thus they or their current employer placed information about them on the internet. From the artists David succeeded in contacting most, who reviewed and commented on their summaries. Information for a few was found via internet sources. Between them he pieced together information about most. (For the few not yet contacted or found via the internet, placeholder pages are included. That includes: one artist from phase I and a couple from phase II for whom biographical information is still being pursued.)
All the pieces for the Hymns and Songs project are coming together for the:
Options for distributing/publishing the recording and book are being researched.
David continues to have very simpatico working relationships with both Mr. McElroy and Ms. Gerber-Salins. They were and are:
This too represents somewhat of a serendipitous or otherwise evolution. K is friends with a then neighbor who had established a Pet Care services company. At one point that neighbor needed assistance with her Pet Care business, which caused K to review her situation. Namely, she:
Therefore, K volunteered to help out the neighbor's company in providing such services. That evolved into K establishing a service to assist her friend and other friends, acquantiences and then others. As part of this service, K has acquired a variety of additional specialized training and skills in providing care for animals needing special assistance.
Thus, over time that initial volunteering to help has grown into what is now K's ongoing Pet Care services, which now includes David assisting.
There are three other envisioned projects for producing recordings (four if you include the planned audio book version of History Through 26 Hymns and Songs), presumably with less ambitious companion publications. Each of those projects will require expansions of this website to include details about those projects as they progress. The plan is to add elaborations as those projects unfold. They include two earlier projects, and two contemplated new projects:
After all these, and more, TortoiseClimbing™ has functionally evolved into an independent:
So, were all these logical evolutions, serendipitous happenstances, or destined, or maybe some combinations?
What do you think?
For those interested, here is a more detailed illustrative list of things that must be accomplished within the business models for producing recordings; book publishing; and interactive website, including: