Wood Rings Translated Into Moody Piano Music

If trees could play music, what would it sound like? That may seem like a silly question, but artist Bartholomäus Traubeck has found a way to answer it. The appropriately titled ‘Years’ project translates the rings of tree slices into piano music using a vintage turntable, a Playstation Eye Camera and a computer running the software ‘Ableton Live‘.

YEARS from Bartholomäus Traubeck on Vimeo.

The effect, as you can hear in the video above, is surprisingly somber and haunting. The German-born artist, who divides his time between Rotterdam, Netherlands and Linz, Austria, explains that the music software reads the rings as they shift and change and translates that raw sound into a pre-selected musical sound – in this case, piano.


“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. It is mapped to a scale which is again defined by the overall appearance of the wood (ranging from dark to light and from strong texture to light texture). The foundation for the music is certainly found in the defined ruleset of programming and hardware setup, but the data acquired from every tree interprets this ruleset very differently.”