When a Tree Speaks

By Chuck Ray | Posted: 06/04/2014 7:20PM

 

Chuck Ray, PennState, Associate Professor of Wood Operations Just when you think you've seen all there is to see, someone finds another unique use of wood on the Internet. Thanks to Andy B. who sent me this video link of a record player that can play wooden records.

So that's what it feels like to spend a lifetime growing in one spot in a forest. Somewhat melancholy.

Being an audiophile myself, I noticed right away that the position of the stylus changes throughout the video, and is not always in sync with the recording. However, from 0:35 to 0:56 of the video the strumming we hear is in sync with the stylus crossing the knot. Very interesting...but is it real?

The folks at the website Realfarmacy.com must have wondered the same thing, and they did a little research on the video. This is what they have to say about it:

"This is an excerpt from the record Years, created by Bartholomäus Traubeck, which features seven recordings from different Austrian trees including Oak, Maple, Walnut, and Beech. What you are hearing is an Ash tree’s year ring data. Every tree sounds vastly unique due to varying characteristics of the rings, such as strength, thickness and rate of growth.
"Keep in mind that the tree rings are being translated into the language of music, rather than sounding musical in and of themselves. Traubeck’s one-of-a-kind record player uses a PlayStation Eye Camera and a stepper motor attached to its control arm. It relays the data to a computer with a program called Ableton Live. What you end up with is an incredible piano track, and in the case of the Ash, a very eerie one."
Read More Chuck Ray Blogs

Great Designs in Wood - The Stradivarius Violin

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Very eerie indeed. Sounds like this ash was suffering through an attack of the Emerald Ash Borer just before it was harvested.


 

About the Author

Chuck Ray, PennState, Associate Professor of Wood Operations

Chuck Ray

Dr. Charles D. “Chuck” Ray is Associate Professor of Wood Operations Research at Pennsylvania State University. His specialty is in the area of operations research, specifically those operational issues that confront the majority of the wood products sector. He previously spent 15 years in research and quality management for two large building products corporations, Temple-Inland Forest Products and Louisiana-Pacific. Ray is the sixth generation of his family to work in the sawmill industry, the Ray Brothers Lumber Company, established in East Texas before the turn of the last century. He can be reached at cdrpsu@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @ChuckDRay. He maintains an Extension website for Penn State at http://extension.psu.edu/woodpro and also writes a blog on all wood issues called Go Wood which can be found at http://gowood.blogspot.com.

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