The sweet, sweet music of the wood-playing turntable

Bartholomaus Traubeck has created a record player that is capable of reading a tree's year rings and translating them into piano music. Every tree generates different melodies.

With the Years project, artist Bartholomaus Traubeck has demonstrated it is possible to elicit music from the patterns of the rings of a tree. Screenshot by CNET

You have to admit there's at least a little resemblance between the ring-lined cross-section of a tree and an LP . So why shouldn't a tree's rings elicit beautiful music the way a record's can?

That might well have been the inspiration for Bartholomaus Traubeck's Years project, a record player that can read the rings of a tree and translate them into lovely piano melodies.

According to the Years Web site, "A tree's year rings are analyzed for their strength, thickness and rate of growth. This data serves as basis for a generative process that outputs piano music. It is mapped to a scale which is again defined by the overall appearance 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."

One wonders whether different families of trees produce varying kinds of music. For example, does a willow generate more soulful ballads? Or would Mozart come from an old growth redwood? Poplars grow fast, so could they be used for upbeat tunes?

It's a terrific idea, and I'd love to see this in person. But absent that, next time I go hiking into the forest, I'm just going to have to imagine what the many trees I'm walking by would be singing if they got the chance.

 

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