Music of the Forest (Literally): Wooden Tree-Ring LPs

In case you missed it: Live Science recently had a story about artist Bartholomäus Traubeck, who has created a “record player” of sorts that plays slices of tree trunks. That’s right: tree ring LPs.

Instead of a phonograph needle reading grooves on an album, Traubeck’s artpice “Years” is an audio recording of tree rings being read by a computer, using a PlayStation Eye Camera, and turned into music via Ableton Live. Each track is named for, and created from, wood from a different type of Austrian tree (spruce, ash, oak, alder, etc).

Traubeck describes his work:

“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 rule set of programming and hardware setup, but the data acquired from every tree interprets this rule set very differently.”

More information about the project, the music, and the album can be found at Traubeck’s website.

via Live Science and Makezine

5 thoughts on “Music of the Forest (Literally): Wooden Tree-Ring LPs

  1. Oh great … another reason to cut down tree’s. ….. I don’t think we will be seeing a ton of deforestation from this project. It seemed to me that the knots in the tree were what triggered notes. I wonder if there is a way to play the actual ring edges themselves? Maybe Bartholomäus could scan all of the rings into a memory buffer then increase the speed of playback or/and Frequency for that to happen? The only thing then would be that maybe you would need to filter out the Knots as I assume this works on light and dark contrasts in the wood?? Interesting project anyhow.

  2. eh… I could fart into a mic & have it trigger random piano notes soaked in reverb & probably end up with similar tracks.

  3. There is probably a mathematical model out there somewhere that can take the known patterns of growth, erosion, etc and give you the expected range of results, which you could then plug into Ableton to generate endless amounts of meaningless music.

  4. Everyone on the biofeedback from plants page gives that technique love ….. so why do these tree rings get none? They are both equally meaningless once you look at the techniques for generating the midi/audio.

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