A tree as a vinyl record, how would that sound?

In America, most children grew up with the fable of ‘The Lorax’ written by Dr. Seuss. In this story, the larch was described as the ‘mouthpiece’ of the trees . Whether that is true or not, we leave up to you. But the ‘Larch Tree’ is a deciduous coniferous tree and was assigned magical powers. In our regions it was revered as a sacred tree . At the time, Dr Seuss’ book was almost exactly converted into an animation film that is somewhat dated (1972) but a touch of nostalgia never hurts. But the idea that this tree speaks for all trees is thought-provoking.

The annual rings, a unique fingerprint

Did you know that the annual rings of a tree are just as unique as a fingerprint. The rings of a tree reveal a lot of information. Age is such a classic and counting annual rings is a fun sport. But you can also see how it was with the rain or diseases. Whether there has been a forest fire. If the tree grows quickly, the rings turn light brown. Dark times indicate slow growth. Every tree is unique. So a slice of tree trunk can tell you a lot.

But the German artist Bartholomeus Traubeck went one step further. He designed a turntable that can translate the tree rings into music. The album is an absolute must because it really sounds heavenly. He replaced the needle with sensors that convert the information about thickness, texture and color via an algorithm. His album is appropriately called ‘Years’ and you can download it here. “Years” , contains spruce, ash, oak, maple, alder, walnut and beech trees.

Bart Backaert, head of the landscaping department, sees it differently. Those growth rings contain the breath of our ancestors and if you look at it that way, what you are about to hear makes what you are about to hear even more special.

Tree rings are analyzed for strength, thickness and growth rate. This data serves as the basis for a generative process that performs piano music. It is mapped to a scale that in turn is determined by the overall appearance of the wood (ranging from dark to light and from strong texture to light texture). The basis for the music is certainly in the defined ruleset of programming and hardware settings, but the data obtained from each tree interprets this ruleset very differently.

Bartholomew Traubeck

Have fun listening

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