Tomato Music (10')

(2007) Chris Chafe

computer-generated sound made with the Hydroponic Hydraulis

Premiered at CCRMA 19-Nov-2007

Tomato Music is a concert piece to be played apart from the Tomato Quintet sound art installation. It can be performed as a purely loudspeaker work in stereo or up to 15 channels.

The music is a sonification at high speed of the ripening of tomatoes grown in my backyard. Picked early and displayed in an installation at the Machine Project Gallery (LA) they produced a week of music before being cooked for the exhibition's closing reception. Artist Greg Niemeyer monitored environmental conditions including carbon dioxide output of the ripening process, right up to the point where they hit the sauce pot. The first movement uses four days worth of the data scanning it 600 times faster. The musical instrument is a software simulation of the ancient Greek hydraulis, or hydraulic organ. Both the simulation and the use of tomato data to play it belong to a fantasy in the spirit of the gallery exhibition. While neither is properly scientific, the two are combined to draw the listener into "a world where if you've ever sat in a forest or a garden and sensed the plants breathing, you'll appreciate how the exhibit heightens and celebrates this sensation." [Susan LaTempa, LA Times]