If a tree falls in the woods with no one around, does it make a sound? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, but if you took that poor fallen soul – that oxygen deliverer – and carved him (or her) up into little round discs you could listen to the sound a tree makes; whether falling with no one around, or simply existing, simply ageing and earning more rings along their way.
You see, like vinyls, a tree in cross section is is riddled with circular grooves to represent its age. Well, you know that, you’re not a moron. I certainly don’t need to explain what vinyl is to you either; you know that things before downloads, before CDs, before audio cassettes, that your mother and father would put on and listen to Pink Floyd and smoke those funny smelling cigarettes. I know I don’t have to tell this to you because now you watch the talented and the very untalented thrash them about whilst your eyes outsize your skull and you’re bet sweatiest dancer in the room, or wonky as fuck and wobbling through the swampland.
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Anyway, enough of my garble, the artist BartholomÃ¤us Traubeck has created a record player that is able to read those age rings found on cross-sectional trees, just like it wold an LP. Of course, it works a little differently than that because it is more of an interpretation, but basically using a Playstation Eye Monitor, a stepper monitor and a control arm, the information read from the trees rings is transferred into Ableton Live. This is where what had been ‘read’ from the rings is converted into a piano sound.
“A tree’s year rings are analysed 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.” – BartholomÃ¤us Traubeck
Which is why you should have a listen to a few of his collaborations with deforestation via Bandcamp.
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