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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Music of the Trees

This is such an amazing technological "thingie" (pardon the technical term) that I just have to share.

Let me back up and explain why this blows my mind. Have any of you read the free chapter of North Country Cache? I know a few of you have read the whole book. Thank you!

Here is a tiny snippet from "Baby Steps on the Giant Trail," the story of our first long hike on the North Country Trail, done in 1994. The picture is Marie, and her son David, resting beside one of the huge virgin hemlocks mentioned in the paragraph. When you've read that, I'll tell you what I ran across this week.

Tionesta hemlocks

On day five we enter the Tionesta Scenic Area. This is the largest stand of virgin forest in the eastern U.S.; six square miles, a diminutive but mature forest. Three-hundred-year-old Eastern Hemlocks watch us pass. How many different travelers have they watched: Algonquin, Iroquois, Redcoats, Tories, Bluecoats, Senecas, oil-drillers, narrow-gage rail engineers, and now backpackers? But not loggers, they missed this tiny patch. Are all the details of this history stored in tree-ring memory if we could but learn to read the code? Could we tap the trees, install a jack, and listen to fife and drum of a passing column of Loyalists? Would the memory-sap be spilled and gone after one listening? Someone would commercialize it. "Jars of home-canned Indian war-whoops." "Get your gen-u-ine Pennsylvania oil-boom, mood music here! Sounds of the forest with a track of rhythmic oil-well squeakings. Guaranteed to cure insomnia."

Now... this is not exactly the same thing, but it's pretty darned awesome. A man named Bartholomäus Traubeck has taken slices of trees and designed a head to travel across the slice like a phonograph arm. The head reads the texture of the wood and the color. This is translated into preselected phrases of piano notes that correspond to the range of texture and color combinations. (Image from

traubeck slice of wood

There are seven different species of trees that you can "hear" singing this way. This is the link to the Ash.

Hear all the species at

I was surprised. The oak sounds "lighter" than the maple. One little warning... if you really hate modern classical music this may not please you stylistically, but it's worth listening to one of them just for the novelty.

Oh, and if you would like to buy North Country Cache, I wouldn't object. Or sign up (top of page) to get updates from MailChimp. Just a few more people and everyone on the list will get a free poem. There will be discounts when Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp is done, too.

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Lin said...

oh, cool! I like the concept.

Ann said...

That is seriously cool.

vanilla said...

Strange. Interesting and entertaining.

Sharkbytes said...

And that is why you folks are my friends, You all think the strange things are cool and entertaining!

RNSANE said...

I think this is very impressive, Joan.

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