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Environment & Science

Tree DJ: turntable plays the mournful music of tree-rings

Stevie Wonder once titled an album Journey Through “The Secret Life of Plants”. Thanks to an ambitious German artist, we can start to hear how that might have actually sounded.

Bartholomäus Traubeck has created a modified turntable that instead of reading vinyl grooves, digitally translates tree rings into haunting, mournful piano music reminiscent of Philip Glass.

For his project entitled “Years”, Traubeck utilized a slew of technical components including Arduino and Ableton Live software, which analyzes the tree’s rings for thickness and rate of growth. Also reading the wood’s texture and color tone, the high-tech tone arm generates the music while “playing” across the wooden “record”.

The resulting music is a sonic representation of the tree’s life cycle, and various environmental factors it endured as it grew.

The ominous piano tones they generate would be perfect for a particularly spooky movie soundtrack or as the intro music to a Radiohead show. You know, something dramatic.