SCIENCE
01/26/2012 02:08 pm ET Updated Mar 27, 2012

Tree Rings 'Played' By Unusual Record Player (VIDEO)

If trees could sing, what would they sound like? 'Years,' a new art piece by German artist Bartholomaus Traubeck, gives one answer: they'd be sad, angsty and a little scary.

Traubeck's piece looks like a record player, but it reads round cross-sections of trees and 'plays' them according to the characteristics of the trees' rings. He bult a special rig to interpret the wooden records, using a Playstation Eye camera and a program that takes in tree ring data and decides what note or chord to play on a synthesized piano.

Traubeck, born in Munich, Germany in 1987, explains:

"A tree's year rings...are analyzed for their thickness and growth rate and are then mapped to a [musical] 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."

In other words, every tree speaks the same language, but they all have different voices. How's that for wisdom?

At any rate, Traubeck's device may be clever, but bored grad students do this sort of thing all the time.

If trees could sing, what would they sound like? 'Years,' a new art piece by Bartholomäus Traubeck, gives one answer: they'd be sad, angsty and a little scary.

Traubeck's piece looks like a record player, but it reads round cross-sections of trees and 'plays' them according to the characteristics of the trees' rings. He bult a special rig to interpret the wooden records, using a Playstation Eye camera and a program that takes in tree ring data and decides what note or chord to play on a synthesized piano.

Traubeck, born in Munich, Germany in 1987, explains:

"A tree’s year rings...are analyzed for their thickness and growth rate and are then mapped to a [musical] 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."

In other words, every tree speaks the same language, but they all have different voices. How's that for wisdom?

At any rate, Traubeck's device may be clever, but bored grad students do this sort of thing all the time.

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