Artist Bartholomaus Traubeck has developed a system whereby he can create music from the cross section of a tree. Traubeck enables the tree to ‘sing by ‘playing’ the trees rings as he would a vinyl record. He speaks a little here of how it works.
The tree slice is turning like a disk and the tone arm is constantly being moved to the inside of the disk like on a regular record player. The difference is that basically it’s just a camera and this camera is a modified camera, a very fast one, and the camera has just moved in and it waits until there is a tree ring passing the camera’s field of view and then it is translated into a sound. Sometimes it is a series of piano tones, sometimes it’s just one sound and the melody is defined, for instance, by the rate of growth. In essence, I play the tree’s year rings.
An interview with Traubeck can be found here, http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.html?programID=12-P13-00005&segmentID=7 along with the chance to hear some of the music that the trees create. It is fascinating that the different sounds are produced by different types of trees, for instance the song of the pine much different in feel to that of oak; each melody defined by patterns of growth.