Music Australia News

An Italian Device Is Turning Plants Into Musical Instruments

Jasmine Crittenden
| November 21, 2017

Last week, the ABC reported on Western Australian musician Tamara Jarrahmarri, who is using an Italian device to turn her plants into musicians. The device picks up on a plant’s electromagnetic variations and, via a MIDI interface, transforms them into notes, which can then be heard as a piece of music.

Ms Jarrahmarri came across the device, which is called Music of the Plants, while travelling in Damanhur, a federation of communities with its own constitution in the alpine foothills north of Piedmont, Italy. She demonstrated its powers to the ABC by attaching it, via alligator clips, to a geranium named Citronella.

“It was a bit of a thrill to hear those first few notes,” said Ms Jarrahmarri. “There’s a process of learning involved. But, once I understood the energy Citronella was putting out there, it simply became a matter of letting it flow.”

Ms Jarrahmarri is not the first Australian to experiment with Music of the Plants. The device is available for sale at the Crystal Castle and Shambhala Gardens, a tourist attraction in Mullumbimby, northern New South Wales. Since 2014, the venue has hosted thrice-weekly Music of the Plants experiences, which gives visitors the chance to hear plants on the surrounding property perform.

“The Music of the Plants is about 40 years of research put into a tiny, little box, in some ways,” says Tigrilla Gardenia, who works in Research, Marketing and Communications, Damanhur, in a video published on the Crystal Palace website. “It’s really an instrument, if you think about it. It’s an instrument that the plants can use. So, it allows a plant to send a signal into a device and, using a synthesiser and an algorithm and a few other technical pieces … allows [it] to make music that’s complex, connecting, that’s responsive and it helps us see what’s happening in the world of that plant.”

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