Teun de Lange > Nature Music // Interactive Forest Sound Installation

Nature Music is an installation at Verbeke Foundation in Kemzeke near Ghent, Belgium. The installation consists of 3 speakers in the willow trees along the brook, a box with a set of microphones and a webcam on the opposite side of the path and a plastic box (inside the ‘serre’) with a pc and amplifiers (video). Essential concepts/parts of the software were developed during a residency project at STEIM in 2007.


The following text is presented near the installation:

Nature is full of sounds with harmonics which also occur in music of African tribes, Balinese gamelan or … fugues of Bach. Birds and many other animals ‘sing’ for about the same reasons as human beings. And still we generally don’t regard sounds from nature as music.

In this installation sounds from nature cause transpositions of the ‘standardized’ sound of a tuning fork (A 440 Hz) to a tuning that matches the input. Notes which are ‘recognized’ in this way, are played back in corresponding chords and in a spectrum of 3 different voices (red,
yellow and blue). Of course, the input is variable and unpredictable: the sound of the wind in willow trees, of birds, of traffic at a distance, of visitors … but apparently there is music in almost every sound … maybe music is more natural than we think.

The microphones used in this project are very sensitive and pick up sounds from a wide range, however the software only processes soft sounds with some kind of ‘tonal’ quality, filtering out ‘white’ noise, crackling sounds, shouting etc. More information about this project and options to experiment with the software can be found on http://www.jazzperiments.com.

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