puppeTree places the tree in the role of a puppet-master, manipulated by the elements, expressing itself through the creation of sound.

Rather than simply enhancing the natural sounds that trees create, the team sought 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 the 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.

Transforming these analog inputs involved sending parameter values to Processing via Arduino. In Processing these values are passed to the Strøm library, connected to the BFO synth, to trigger a note and sound output.

The note is placed on an eight-step treequencer, designed and built in processing, which repeats unless a position is changed after a note is played, whilst also provides visual feedback. 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.

puppeTree is also a great performance piece, where a human may be brought in to play a tree or plant and create music. As part of the performances scheduled during this project, the team took part in a duet with another experimental musical instrument, The Instrument Which Did Not Want To Be Played.