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Someone actually went to the trouble of finding out.

WE ALREADY KNOW what trees would sound like if they could talk. Peter Jackson gave that secret away in the Lord of the Rings movies. But if they could play music, what might that be like?

Bartholomäus Traubeck, a 25-year-old German artist, converted a record player into a device that can “read” the rings from a cross-section of a tree. Instead of a normal needle, the player uses a PlayStation Eye that records information from the rings. It’s all then digitally processed to result in nature’s greatest hits.

I love trees. Ancient, majestic, grand, gnarly. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere without them. I hug them when I go into the forest. I’ve always wondered what stories they would tell if they could; they’ve seen and been through so much. Well, now I know.



About The Author

Carlo Alcos

Carlo is the Dean of Education at MatadorU and a Managing Editor at Matador. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. He lives in Nelson, British Columbia.

  • high


  • Gabriela Logan

    how do they determine the notes?!?

  • missgates

    Beautiful!! Gabriela, hope this helps:

    “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 based on the year ring data. Those are analyzed for
    their thickness and growth rate and are then 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.”
    Found at:

  • haitravel
  • wrouillie

    Actually many do ‘sing.’ They hum. If the environment is
    quiet enough, and you stand near them when they are in groups, they tend to do
    this. I suspect that what you are hearing is turgor pressure in the trunk and
    limbs. In some trees, like birch – think thinner trunks – one can feel the
    pressure as well.

  • Here

     Awesome idea, but not as romantic as it sounds. In order to see the rings, you have to cut down the tree…  hmmm…

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