The music that trees make

Bartholomäus Traubeck, a German artist, has created a beautiful installation that translates tree rings into music that can be understood and appreciated to human ears.

He uses an optical sensor that 'reads' the rate of growth, thickness, and strength of tree rings while also accounting for their differences in the colour and the texture of the wood. The data is turned into piano music. He uses samples from different kinds of trees, including Spruce, Ash, Oak, and Maple.

Repairing humanity's relationship with the environment requires a deeper, more meaningful interaction with the natural world. When I say this, I don't just mean that everyone must learn how to rough it in the woods (though they should). We also need interpretations that resonate with our modern lifestyle — interpretations that force us to pause our everyday routines and reexamine our fundamental understanding of the world.

This kind of art can help us do that.

Projects like Traubeck's are important because they reconnect our day to day lives with new understandings of nature. This project gives voice to a part of nature that otherwise stands silent — the life story of a single tree. You can almost hear the long passage of time encoded within the tree rings. It's compelling and deeply meaningful.

Give it a listen here.

Howie Chong