Music

How plants create music

Using specialised technology, MasterPlants Orchestra, from Damanhur, Italy, creates music from plants

At Cubbon Park, plant music technician Tritone Crisantemo shows how using a plant to MIDI interface, called Symphony, a plant’s resistance from a leaf to the root system is transformed into music.

A crowd gathers around while Tritone demonstrates how it works. “The technology we use enables us to listen to the electrical resistance in the plant. If there is a higher resistance, there is a higher note, if there is a lower resistance there is a lower note. The plant can then choose the note within the human musical system. The device amplifies the vibrations already present in the plant, translating the vibrations into the human musical system, which is a subdivision of all the vibrations present around us all the time.”

MasterPlants concert

MasterPlants concert  

Tritone adds: “Any plant can play music, though it shouldn’t be too dry or dusty. Since we measure the electrical signals within the plant, plants that have more water in their bodies conduct better and so the plants are able to musically express themselves better.”

Bangaloreans can attend a concert by Masterplants Orchestra, comprising Tritone, multi-instrumentalist Benjamin Andersen and Japanese singer Chiyo Kaiga. Organised by Arun Sivag’s GlobalKulture Organisation, the Bengaluru concerts will be held on February 14 at Taj Vivantha, Yeshwanthpur and on February 16, 10 am onwards at Band Stand in Cubbon Park. MasterPlants Orchestra had earlier performed in a school and at a rather unique venue—Shivajinagar Police Station.

Stage plot

Stage plot  

As we are spellbound listening to the sweet music emanating from the plants, Tritone, Benjamin and Chiyo trace the history of plant music and of their band. “We are two entities working from Damanhur, one is the sister company called Music of the Plants that produces these devices and the other is our collective, The Masterplants Orchestra, where we are more on the field, pushing the limits of what can be done with the technology, and figuring how to spread awareness on this in the best way possible.” Tracing the history of plant music, Tritone says: “In the 1970s in Damanhur (a community in Piemonte Italy) a group of researchers began to develop a technology that could bridge the ancient and intrinsic connection that humanity has to plants, nature and life. Inspired by Damanhurian mythology and by Oberto Airaudi, the founder of Damanhur, the team began to create the technology called Music of the Plants. Throughout the years various iterations of plant music technology has been developed. And in the early 2000’s, the brand Music of the Plants was created.” Tritone said MasterPlants Orchestra was started around three years ago within the Damanhur community. “Benjamin started to play with the older devices that could allow one plant to play music. We decided to create better devices that can allow more plants to play music with more complex compositions. In that moment, something lit up in us and everything fell into place.”

Tritone, Benjamin and Chiyo started to create a new device. They faced some difficulties. They met a technician in Denmark, Martin Luckmann, who was the first builder of the Masterplants Symphony device.

Symphony device

Symphony device  

“Then half a year later we needed some upgrades and so we currently have a lead engineer from Greece, Spiros Makris. We are now working on developing Symphony 2.0, which is a larger device and a more affordable one, because right now plant music technology is somewhat expensive. Symphony 2.0 will allow the plants to not only control the notes, but we are also studying how the plants to control the settings of the device,” Tritone says

Benjamin, who plays the electric guitar and various percussion instruments in Masterplants, also knows how to play the tabla. “I taught myself the tabla for about two years. When I was presented to a master in Varanasi, I played for maybe 10 seconds and he said stop, stop! you have to start all over!...so I learnt the tabla from him and now I play a mix of what I teach myself and what I have learnt from my master.”

Chiyo says she met Tritone and the spiritual community of Damanhur. “It is a sacred place and since then my life has been changing, spiritually and emotionally. This is my first visit to India. I consider MasterPlants as a door to the next, higher dimension.”

Speaking about some of the challenges they have faced, Benjamin says: “One thing we did when we made the device was that we enabled the plant to play within the musical system of rhythm. The plants have a rhythmic pattern according to how quickly we measure them. So what we did was to translate that into what is being used in music, beats per minute (bpm). In the older devices, that was just in seconds. But this was not reasonable for musicians so we made it more compatible with human music. We have found different ways of incorporating different scales, ragas, and musical options.” This interspecies concert also raises awareness on nature. Tritone adds, “We are bridging the gap between humans and nature.”

For more details on the concerts in Bengaluru call 9880370925. For more information on MasterPlants Orchestra visit m.me/MasterPlantsOrchestra

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 1:02:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/even-plants-play-music/article30817823.ece

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