The sound of tree talk is music

Years playing on phonograph
Source: Bartholomäus Traubeck
Since I became aware a few years ago that trees audibly mourn when a neighboring tree is cut down, I have wondered what is the sound that a tree makes. In the tree-cutting study I read, the tree’s sound was tracked only by vibration levels, but not sound. Now I’m one step closer to knowing.

In a project called “Years”, artist Bartholomäus Traubeck cut thin slices of tree trunk and assigned to each type of pattern in them, a sound. As a camera mounted on a phonograph machine in the position of needle plays over the patterns, they are translated into sound and my gosh, those sounds are marvellous. Listen …

Traubeck explains:

A tree’s year rings are analysed for their strength, thickness and rate of growth. This data serves as basis for a generative process that outputs piano music based on the year ring data. Those are analyzed for their thickness and growth rate and are then mapped to a scale which is again defined by the overall appeareance of the wood (ranging from dark to light and from strong texture to light texture). The foundation for the music is certainly found in the defined ruleset of programming and hardware setup, but the data acquired from every tree interprets this ruleset very differently.

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