Yes, You Can Play A Tree Trunk Like A Record

Well, sort of. Years, an artwork by Bartholomaus Traubeck, is a converted record player that can play cross-sectional slices taken from a tree trunk just like LPs.

OK, there’s a bit more to it than that: the data gets transferred to a PC, where music program Ableton Live converts the oscillations from the wood into piano music. But it’s not trickery: the sound really does vary according to the piece of wood you place on the turntable. Traubeck explains:

A tree’s year rings are analysed for their strength, thickness and rate of growth. This data serves as basis for a generative process that outputs piano music based on the year ring data.

Being a high-minded sort, Traubeck has used classical music for his artwork. Which is a shame, as this tree-ring player should of course be made to play anything by the Beech Boys. Or Woody Guthrie. Or Paul OAKenfold. Or… OK, I’ll not labour the point.