puppeTree places the tree in the role of a puppet-master, manipulating a custom-made music machine in order to finally express itself through the creation of sound.
Rather than simply enhancing the natural sounds that trees create, the team used analog inputs and processing libraries to develop a new musical scale that reflects the full characteristics of a tree. Notions of time, a sense of scale and physicality were all important considerations for sound design.
Playing notes involved bringing the metaphor to reality. This meant creating real puppet strings and extending them from the tree to a purpose built object. The wind affects the movement of the branches and the connected strings, which in turn influence the position of four analog joysticks.
Notes are triggered and placed on an eight-step Treequencer, which repeats unless a position is changed after a note is played. Thus, it was possible to develop an experience that could be adapted to a variety of tree forms and settings producing different results each time.
In many respects our end user is a tree, thus creating an object that fits in with a tree's natural surroundings and does not require any human manipulation beyond setup was important. In order to do this we decided upon a puppet-like system. When the tree sways with the wind, strings connected to it move four analog joysticks which controls sound outputs.
Having decided that sound would be the most compelling medium for expression our initial inspiration came artists like Zimoun and alternative forms of musical notation especially Cornelius Cardew. Using Processing and the Strom library in conjunction with the BFO synth the team were able to transform these analog inputs and give trees a way to express themselves. The position of each of the four joysticks sends parameter values to Processing via Arduino. In Processing these values are passed to the Strom library, connected to the BFO synth, to trigger a note and sound output.