Alison Rush | 220c
CCRMA 2016



Forest Music

The primary goal of the project is to sonify data from six tree species from a study on Alaskan forests; over the course of the piece, we move through time and space, tracking populations of trees - living and dead - in sound.


Data from this study was sonified (handwavey explanation pending further developments) and presented in two movements: first, a solo from a single, initially dominant tree species, then a pass with all tree species voices singing.


Another goal of the project has been to create a "multi-pass" interpretation of a single data set: that is, to present simultaneous, parallel representations of the data in multiple modalities and interpretation schemes. Along with the musical representation, tree data also feeds into a visualizer Max patch which generates blooming colors. The colors "reseed" to represent a change of sample plot (i.e. where the tree data came from), and their relative weightings are modulated by amplitude of the music playing and by motion as observed by the laptop's webcam.


Max patch screenshotMax patch screenshot Max patch screenshot
Max patch screenshot


The movement accompanying the piece was choreographed around the forest music, and thus its dynamics represent a third interpretation of the data set. Originally, the intention was to perform this piece of the project aerially, ideally while suspended from a tree. Although the idea has some compelling symbolism, it quickly became apparent that for both pragmatic and aesthetic reasons, it was a better idea to keep it simple.

Video documentation



Circus performance/embodiment/gesture sonification

Biometrics, sensors, embodiment, electricity

Fractal Flesh diagram showing touchscreen interface and muscle stimulation circuitry

Visualization &c