PLEIN AIR | Silva Datum Musica

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Gruen 187 | Vinyl > [order]
100 numbered & autographed [order here]


Plein Air the album presents recordings from a plant-driven synthesizer. A custom built instrument that uses scientific sensors and software programming to generate real-time tree leaf data. Light, photosynthesis and transpiration modifies sound: the rhythm, melody, texture, tempo and harmony shift with atmospheric conditions and tree response – electronically.


The sounds of each leaf of regional deciduous trees by scientifically sensored data-sonification are much more musical than one could imagine. Their timbre and volume always depend on light and temperature, number of audience. It varies from site to site and from country to country. We can hear loops of rhythmic sequences, groups of tiny computer generated signals, long drones which change constantly and are hard to describe.


Side 1 includes four short recordings, in total twenty-six minutes, of one leaf from Scottish Elder, Oak, Elderberry and Birch, recorded in one of Glasgow’s historical green houses, June 2017. Due to dramatic light and temperature changes that occur as sunshine and cloud formation changes in proximity to the north Atlantic; the computer generated music is highly dynamic, an intense hearing experience at times as I would imagine a tornado.


Side 2, is one recording, in total twenty-five minutes, of a regional heritage pear tree leaf that sounds more like Minimal Music. During the Cologne Tree Sound Study, we made the recording in a small office room in 2015, we had less dramatic weather changes. A warm summer, smooth light changes, generating a more gentle soundscape to deeply plunge into music. (Georg Dietzler)


Plein Air the album is based on a ten-year artist-led project. In simplest terms our intention is to provide a ‘mind/body experience’ of trees by attending to the sound of physiological reaction (photosynthesis and transpiration) as one leaf adjusts to the day to day changes (rush hour traffic, crowds of people) in ground level atmospheric chemistry in venues and cities. Physiological data is transposed into sound through computer software. We have chosen sound for its aesthetic purity with the goal to hear the trees more clearly as they react to changes in CO2, temperature and humidity. This system is called ‘Plein Air’, a stable single platform system that embraces the portable easel, as a metaphor for the historic practice of open air painting. Where Millet extended the idea of landscape to peasants working in the fields and the impressionists examined the phenomenological exchange between light and material. At the same time, recent work with the system raises questions about what we expect to ‘hear’ when we listen to nature, as it reacts to intense inputs of carbon dioxide?
(Tim Collins)





Side 1 – PLEIN AIR Live in Glasgow, Scotland, 2017


1 ALDER 5:32
2 OAK 8:04
4 BIRCH 8:48


Side 2 – PLEIN AIR Live in Cologne, Germany, 2015


1 PEAR 24:42


5 Tracks (50′42″)
Vinyl (300 copies)








Tim Collins, Reiko Goto, Chris Malcolm
Plein Air | Silva Datum Musica
Format: 12 “ Vinyl
Style: Experimental, Electronic, Data-Sonification, Computermusic
Recordings by Chris Malcom, Tim Collins & Georg Dietzler
Software Programming: Chris Malcom
Mastering by Dirk Specht, Cologne
Produced by Georg Dietzler, Cologne
Artwork: Reiko Goto with mono prints by Nicola Chambury
Edition of 300 copies | 100 numbered & autographed
PLEIN AIR | Southern Appalachian Forest


Sound Art Series by Gruenrekorder
Germany / 2019 / Gruen 187 / LC 09488 / GEMA / EAN 193483354477





Frans de Waard | VITAL WEEKLY
A subject about I surely have very little knowledge of is that of bioacoustics; you know, where biological events turn into sound. I know John Cage experimented with plants, Michael Prime also, and I’m sure there is much more out there, but I have not much idea about that. Silva Datum Musica is a duo of Tim Collins and Reiko Goto and together they created a ‚plant-driven synthesizer‘. It uses sensors and software „to generate real-time tree leaf data. Light, photosynthesis and transpiration modify sound: the rhythm, melody, texture, tempo and harmony shift with atmospheric conditions and tree response – electronically“, which is a pretty cool idea. Ideally, every plant sounds different, one would think. Here we have two different recordings, both live. One side has four pieces, recorded in 2017 in Scotland and one long piece from Cologne in 2015. The four pieces are ‚Alder‘, ‚Oak‘, ‚Elderberry‘ and ‚Birch‘ and ‚Pear‘ is on the other side. The interesting thing is, but perhaps also sad to note, is that those four pieces sound kinda similar. I have no idea if that is the trees, leaves or perhaps the software; basically, because I have very little knowledge of how this software is supposed to work. Are there elements of sound in there that are activated by the plants and as such maybe that’s why some of this sounds the same. It makes it, perhaps, more the result of a scientific experiment, rather than some music that works as a standalone thing, which is, I think, what this should boil down to. No matter how interesting it is to translate the sound of leaves into music, one should also consider the fact that it is now ‚out there‘, on an LP, to enjoy. One doesn’t see or smell the plants, nor the machine to translate them, and therefore it is a bit difficult to understand why these pieces sound relatively the same. The long piece on the other side, curiously enough, sounds a bit different, although one can link both sides together. The sheer minimalism of all of the pieces is, however, something I enjoyed very much about this. It is slowly evolving and that is always a great thing!