Listen to Tree Rings Getting Played on a Turntable and Turned into Music

There’s some­thing odd­ly sooth­ing about lis­ten­ing to music on vinyl. Regard­less of what dig­i­tal music lovers say, and irre­spec­tive of the fact that the same sound may be pro­duced dig­i­tal­ly, die-hard vinyl fans will tell you that noth­ing com­pares to the warm scratch­i­ness of a nee­dle on a record. I don’t have a horse in the race, but hav­ing grown up with a record play­er in my bed­room, I can’t help but slip into a brief rever­ie when­ev­er I hear an old Satch­mo record spin­ning on a turntable.

In an ele­gant twist on the digital/analog bat­tle, Ger­man-born Bartholomäus Traubeck has cre­at­ed Years, a “record play­er that plays slices of wood,” using a process that trans­lates the data from the tree’s year rings into music. This process is, how­ev­er, com­plete­ly dig­i­tal. Instead of using a nee­dle to pick up the sound from the record’s grooves, Traubeck used a tiny cam­era to cap­ture the image of the wood, and dig­i­tal­ly trans­formed this data into piano tones. More than mere­ly a clever con­trap­tion, how­ev­er, Years is also an intrigu­ing inter­ac­tion between the phys­i­cal and the tem­po­ral. As Traubeck notes,

 “On reg­u­lar vinyl, there is this groove that rep­re­sents how­ev­er long the track is. There’s a phys­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the length of the audio track that’s imprint­ed on the record. The year rings are very sim­i­lar because it takes a very long time to actu­al­ly grow this struc­ture because it depends on which record you put on of those I made. It’s usu­al­ly 30 to 60 or 70 years in that amount of space. It was real­ly inter­est­ing for me to have this visu­al rep­re­sen­ta­tion of time and then trans­late it back into a song which it wouldn’t orig­i­nal­ly be.”

A lit­tle con­vo­lut­ed? Don’t wor­ry. Play the video above, and enjoy the eerie melody.

via Live­Science

Ilia Blin­d­er­man is a Mon­tre­al-based cul­ture and sci­ence writer. Fol­low him at @iliablinderman, or read more of his writ­ing at the Huff­in­g­ton Post.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

How Vinyl Records Are Made: A Primer from 1956 (That’s Rel­e­vant in 2014)

A Song of Our Warm­ing Plan­et: Cel­list Turns 130 Years of Cli­mate Change Data into Music

Glob­al Warm­ing: A Free Course from UChica­go Explains Cli­mate Change

Har­vard Thinks Green: Big Ideas from 6 All-Star Envi­ron­ment Profs

How Cli­mate Change Is Threat­en­ing Your Dai­ly Cup of Cof­fee


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