Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | February 15, 2012

The Music of Trees



Artist Bartholomaus Traubeck has developed a system whereby he can create music from the cross section of a tree. Traubeck enables the tree to ‘sing by ‘playing’ the trees rings as he would a vinyl record. He speaks a little here of how it works.

The tree slice is turning like a disk and the tone arm is constantly being moved to the inside of the disk like on a regular record player. The difference is that basically it’s just a camera and this camera is a modified camera, a very fast one, and the camera has just moved in and it waits until there is a tree ring passing the camera’s field of view and then it is translated into a sound. Sometimes it is a series of piano tones, sometimes it’s just one sound and the melody is defined, for instance, by the rate of growth. In essence, I play the tree’s year rings.

An interview with Traubeck can be found here, along with the chance to hear some of the music that the trees create. It is fascinating that the different sounds are produced by different types of trees, for instance the song of the pine much different in feel to that of oak; each melody defined by patterns of growth.


  1. so basicly tree death music, kindof like turning bones into a zylaphone

  2. Bones make wonderful instruments. Have you heard the prehistoric eagle bone flute music from Scotland?

  3. I wonder what Bartholomaus Traubeck would sound like if we were to slice him up and put him on the turn table …

  4. Fascinating. Thank you Phillip.

  5. A very thought provoking piece Philip, The music clearly expresses the trees pattern of growth and tells a story about the life of the tree; good and bad played out. It’s sad to see any tree cut down but this is almost like giving the tree a voice.

    Thanks for sharing,


  6. […] the song of the living tree.  When OBOD‘s chief mentioned another interview of the artist on his blog, I had the classic mixture of elitist “I liked them before they were famous” and […]

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