Ring Tones

Bartholomäus Traubeck created equipment that would translate tree rings into music by playing them on a turntable. Rather than use a needle like a record, sensors gather information about the wood’s color and texture and use an algorithm that translates variations into piano notes. The breadth of variation between individual trees results in a individualized tune. The album, appropriately titled “Years,” features spruce, ash, oak, maple, alder, walnut, and beech trees.

Source, with audio, here.

Superconductor Sonics

A new experimental sound-source:

… in 1987, a totally unexpected revolution took place: a new family of superconductors based on copper and oxygen smashed all records, taking the highest known superconducting temperatures up to a balmy −150C. BCS theory, which worked so well for simple, elemental superconductors, couldn’t explain the behaviour of these new materials. […] A paper published last week brings us a step closer to understanding how these new superconductors work. Physicists, including my old officemate Paul, used some of the biggest magnetic fields on Earth to try to work out what’s happening inside these materials. In fact, the pulsed magnets used burn through enough energy to melt a tonne of steel every second. […] … the mechanism that underlies this advanced physics apparatus for measuring materials in massive magnets is almost identical to a theremin. …

Audio at the main link.


Sonic Synthesis

Klint Finley on the exotic ideological history of electronic music (from Summer 2012):

You don’t play the ANS synthesizer with a keyboard. Instead you etch images onto glass sheets covered in black putty and feed them into a machine that shines light through the etchings, trigging a wide range of tones. Etchings made low on the sheets make low tones. High etchings make high tones. The sound is generated in real-time and the tempo depends on how fast you insert the sheets. […] This isn’t a new Dorkbot or Maker Faire oddity. It’s a nearly forgotten Russian synthesizer designed by Evgeny Murzin in 1938. The synth was named after and dedicated to the Russian experimental composer and occultist Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin (1872–1915). The name might not mean much to you, but it illuminates a long running connection between electronic music and the occult. …

And we’re away — Theosophists, Marxists, Fascists, and musicians to come …