Thanks to artist and engineer Bartholomäus Traubeck, trees can now talk. Better yet, they can sing. By creating an algorithm in Ableton Live, Traubeck was able to translate the data generated from a tree ring being read by a Playstation Eye Camera and stepper motor connected to the control arm of a vinyl record player. The result is a one-of-a-kind musical composition for the piano.
The piece, called Years, is a recording of seven different tracks from various Austrian trees such as maple, walnut, beech, oak, and ash. The thickness and varied shape of the rings contribute to a unique sound. In the recording, you’ll hear the eerie arrangement made by an ash tree.
Not only is this an innovative combination of old and new technology, it is applied in a way that raises environmental awareness. The spacing of the notes draw your attention to the irregularity of the composition, and causes you to reflect on the passing of the seasons. Since tree rings record the cycles of the year, they also annotate shifts in climate change. When I hear this recording I wonder how the trees that grow hundreds of years from now will sound.