hidden life radio.

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Silent tree activity, like photosynthesis and the absorption and evaporation of water, produces a small voltage in the leaves. In a bid to encourage people to think more carefully about their local tree canopy, sound designer and musician Skooby Laposky has found a way to convert that tree activity into music.

By connecting a solar-powered sensor to the leaves of three local trees in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Laposky was able to measure the micro voltage of all that invisible tree activity, assign a key and note range to the changes in that electric activity, and essentially turn the tree’s everyday biological processes into an ethereal piece of ambient music.

You can check out the tree music yourself by listening to the Hidden Life Radio—Laposky’s art project—which aims to increase awareness of trees in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the city’s disappearing canopy by creating a musical “voice” for the trees.

The project features the musical sounds of three Cambridge trees: a honey locust, a red oak, and an 80-year-old copper beech tree, all located outside the Cambridge Public Library. Each tree has a solar-powered biodata sonification kit installed on one of its branches that measures the tree’s hidden activities and translates it into music.

According to WBUR, between 2009 and 2014, Cambridge was losing about 16.4 acres of canopy annually, which is a huge loss considering that tree canopies are crucial to cities,  cooling them down during the summer, reducing air pollutino, sucking up carbon, and providing mental health benefits.

Laposky hopes that people will tune into Hidden Life Radio and spend time listening to the trees whose music occurs in real-time and is affected by the weather. Some days they might be silent, especially when it hasn’t rained for several days and they’re dehydrated. The project will end in November, when the leaves will drop — a “natural cycle for the project to end,” Laposky says, “when there aren’t any leaves to connect to anymore.”

 

 “in a cool solitude of trees

where leaves and birds a music spin,

mind that was weary is at ease,

new rhythms in the soul begin.”

-william kean seymour

source credits: Kristin Toussaint, The Optimist Daily, WBUR Radio

70 responses »

  1. love the name, Skooby Laposky: wish I had a name like that 🙂 would make a great album: ‘Tree Music’::) with a smaller CD , an E.P perhaps of the music of grass growing 🙂 the Greenies would buy up big 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. How cool! Not much action out of the second tree when I was giving a listen. Who knew this was a thing? I’ve often heard the idea of talking to plants in nurturing ways and wonder if the same would be true for trees. If so, I wonder how the music would sound then?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dude I had never heard of voltage in leaves! Dude that’s awesome. Plus trees making music. Hidden Life Radio is such a coooooooooooool concept and title. I love it. Thanks so much for sharing, had I known about it I would have put it on the feel good Friday playlist 🙂 The Copper Beech and Red Oak together are very Zen vibe, meditative and yoga like tunes. Very cool.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That was brilliant! I played all three together and while the honey locust didn’t really add much of anything the other two resonated in my chest and I could hear the music. I could listen to that for quite a while. I only listened for three minutes but… Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s incredible!!!

    No one has studied the Scarlet Emperor Beans, but I definitely feel they communicate with each other and with me. I don’t know if it’s voltage or music, but the more time I spend with them, the more they bloom and the taller they grow. When I wasn’t hopeful about them and didn’t hang out with them much, they did much worse. Then I decided, “Go hang out with your beans. It might help them.” I believe it did. They are amazing right now. ❤

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jan/08/food-for-thought-french-bean-plants-show-signs-of-intent-say-scientists

    Like

  6. First you found us the music of spiders back in April, now you find us the music of trees! I will reblog this on Nature-Led (how could I not?) Also, Thanks to your reminder I DID make it to the Farmer’s Market yesterday! Thank you! All the local vendors I supported with my visit would thank you too if they could.

    Liked by 1 person

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