Plants wired for sound

‘Musical’ plants the talk of the town!

Only Easter Sunday brings more people onto the streets of Milan than the city’s famous Design Week, the Fuorisalone. Over seven days every designer worth their salt vies to showcase the wackiest designs and most glamorous products – but never before has the festival seen a plant orchestra. Forget hollowed-out carrots or gourd drums, this is hi-tech stuff.

Scientists and sound-designers at STIGA, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of garden machinery and equipment, attached electrodes to plant leaves which sensed the amount of water coursing through each stem. Visitors to the MyPatchofGreen exhibit placed their hands on electronic pads that interpreted the leaves’ moisture levels as sounds, creating ‘voices’ for each individual plant.

There is method to such Spring madness. By electronically monitoring the levels of water in each plant – in this case all from the Lombardy region of Italy – it becomes easier understand how plants work. The sounds created by a stressed plant, for example, are different to the ‘song’ made by one that is well-hydrated; woody varieties such as sage and lavender create deeper sounds than ivies and the fleshier herbs.

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Plants have been found play a different tune when they need watering
Plants change their tune when they need watering

The highlight of the event was a ‘concert’ of plants as a demonstration of how the future might look. While the ‘voices’ created for the concert were electronic and contemporary, there is, potentially, no limit to the music a plant orchestra could make. Perhaps a STIGA Plant Prom should be next on the cards… 

STOP PRESS: Click the link here  – to hear the ‘plant-based’ album, now available on all streaming platforms (Amazon Music, Spotify and of course, Apple Music!).

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About the Author

Steve Ott
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