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Trees Make Ethereal Music

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.

Copper beech tree leaves

By connecting a solar-powered sensor to the leaves of trees in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Laposky was able to measure the micro voltage of the abundance of 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.

He broadcasts the tree music on 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. 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.

Whilst Hidden Life Radio has now concluded for this season, you can still enjoy some of this summer's weirdly wonderful and remarkably soothing recordings from an 80-year-old copper beech tree, all located outside the Cambridge Public Library.

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