Tree-Watching and Listening Project: The Music of Trees

October 25, 2012

Strolling along tall cedar trees, Washington Park Arboretum

I made a special visit to the Washington Park Arboretum yesterday to experience Paths II: The Music of Trees, a series of seven sound installations by composer Abby Aresty.  She is a doctoral candidate at the University of Washington, and this outdoor music project is her dissertation.  She recorded natural sounds at these sites in different seasons, and then used them in compositions, which are broadcast in three-hour “concerts” on Wednesdays and Saturdays in October. You can read more about this remarkable project in this Seattle Times article.

I didn’t want the month to pass without checking out this unusual art project.  Armed with a map from the Visitor’s Center, I strolled the paths looking for the seven listening sites.  As always, I enjoyed wandering among the many tall trees of the arboretum.  And the unique soundscapes made this visit especially memorable.

“Twisted things continue to make creaking contortions.” (Gaston Bachelard). At Site 1, twisted plastic tubing becomes “mutant” branches.

The path near Site 1: The Music of Trees

Staircase under Japanese maple, Washington Park Arboretum

Walking beneath the rhododendrons at Site 4, where the sounds featured raindrops on leaves

Rhododendron bud

Site 6 used hanging sculptures like wind chimes, and the music incorporated the sounds of falling leaves.

Looking up into the maple tree at Site 7. I couldn’t hear the sound concert because a maintenance crew was blowing leaves down the way.

Washington Park Arboretum

Light-dappled curtain of leaves

Magnolia

Colorful Japanese maple against evergreen

Cluster of oak leaves

Bench, Washington Park Arboretum

Street light, Washington Park Arboretum

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6 Responses to “Tree-Watching and Listening Project: The Music of Trees”

  1. Kate Says:

    Your photos are gorgeous. We frequent the arboretum (just live a few blocks away), and enjoyed checking out the installation the other day.

  2. Margaret Says:

    I found a new desktop background in this batch of photos. I fell for the oak leaves this time!


  3. It looks like a lovely place to visit. It’s too far for me to make a physical visit; I’m thrilled to have made a virtual visit. Your photos are wonderful.

    What a great project to combine the sounds and music with nature. So sorry you couldn’t hear #7 due to the leaf blowers.

  4. Dianna Marshall Says:

    The red pod that you thought might be a chestnut is actually a magnolia.


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