What might an orchid sound like whilst receiving a cool, soft misting of water? Imagine the song of the amaryllis as its leaves are gently stroked by caring hands. How might a ficus tree express the sensation of a breeze blowing through its limbs?
In fact, all plants emit signals and respond to changes in their surroundings; they have been doing so since the dawn of time. Not only do plants “sing,” they perceive sound and movement, and given the opportunity, they love to express themselves as well.
Plant music is made by measuring the subtle changes in the electrical currents across the surface of a plant’s leaf and converting these fluctuations into note and control messages that can be read by synthesizers to generate music as they respond to the flow of information and changes in their environment.
As a touring Botanical Musician - I combine ancient, sacred and traditional instruments with leading-edge technologies to accompany the real-time musical expressions of living plants. The result is an intricate, multi-level texture and ambient flow of music which is a direct result of our co-created bio-communication.
During a live performance, I build musical foundations with self-generative sound environments which ebb and flow in response to the ontological values between plant, performer and other factors (e.g. time of day, geographic location, human participants). The resulting live, bio-acoustic, interspecies performance results in an immersive musical experience. Capturing and bringing this unique experience to as many people as possible is the purpose and vision of this album project which was recorded and mixed during the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a collaboration between myself and the many cultivated plants and Bonsai trees with which I have shared space during self-quarantine.
Nearly all electronic drones and synth pads and about 95% of the electronic sounds heard were triggered by my plants and bonsai trees. Even some of the Shakuhachi and flute sounds were triggered and played by my plants. Many of the distinctive, tight, little, twirly flute sounds were performed by my green friends but most of the melodic structures and solo pieces I performed on Shakuhachi, Bansuri, concert and wood flutes along with electronic wind controllers.
My process included capturing and editing the plant-based music and arranging a sound palette, think sonic bonsai. The new arrangement was then played to different sets of plants as I recorded their reactions. This process was repeated numerous times until a wash of sound texture was created. In some cases, self-generative musical programs were placed under the sonic textures.
The resulting musical amalgam was rearranged once more in order to create a coherent musical journey and it was only then that the flutes and wind controllers were added. Further editing and mixing molded the songs into what is presented here: a layered watercolor of plant-based music with each transparent sound revealing another.