You’ve heard rock and roll at the Middle East, caught bebop at Wally’s, and perhaps enjoyed an Allston house show or two, but now take an afternoon to enjoy the soulful, natural music of the Seaport’s Singing Trees.
“What you’re hearing there is four different trees, each playing a different instrument ... all tuned to the same key,” said Joe Patitucci, CEO of Data Garden.
In 2019, Data Garden launched a Kickstarter campaign for PlantWave, a device that translates a plant’s “biorhythms” into music. Patitucci, who is also a musician, said he’s been working on the idea of plant music since 2012.
“I always wrote music by going out into the forest and connecting to the inspiration of being in nature,” Patitucci said. “I started to think of how could I actually take that inspiration from nature. How could I allow nature to express itself without having to express itself through me?”
Patitucci’s PlantWave technology matches the raw data to a MIDI, a digital music interface, and places the notes within the simple pentatonic scale, but the notes themselves basically come from the plants.
“I’m an artist more than a scientist, so for me this is about creating a space for people to connect to plants,” Patitucci said.
In 2021, Data Garden partnered with the Seaport to create the first permanent PlantWave installation at Harbor Way, an in-progress public green space. The team hooked PlantWave up to leaves on three white oaks and a maple tree, creating a band composed of a flute, a pan flute, a vocal chorus, and chimes.
The Singing Trees, which launched in the Seaport in October, features kiosks that allow visitors to hear the live music from the individual trees, though currently they play older recordings because the trees have shed their leaves for winter.
“It’s all those cheery sounds of summer and tranquility during the winter, and then come spring, when all the buds open, we’ll reattach to the new leaves,” said Claire Kilcullen, the assistant marketing manager at WS Development, the group behind the Seaport.
In addition to the kiosks, the Singing Trees feature free concerts every Sunday from noon-2 p.m., with all four trees playing together.
“We have a lot of people who will come out on Sundays and just sit there and listen because it’s such a meditative piece of music to hear in a piece of the city that’s obviously very busy,” Kilcullen said.
For those who can’t experience the Singing Trees in person, Patitucci says he’s just completed an album of six tracks from the four trees that he “can’t wait to release.”
Or you can tune into your own flora by purchasing a PlantWave device for $300—you control it via a mobile app. Visit plantwave.com
Sam Trottenberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.