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List Art

Music for, and inspired by plants


Words by Ben Earl

Photos by Data Garden

Beethoven once said that he preferred trees over people, Stevie Wonder created 'The Secret Life of Plants’ soundtrack, and Ringo Starr is an avid gardener. It’s time to give credit where credit is due, thanks to plants we've had some pretty great sounds. Here we’ve listed some of the most fascinating and obscure connections between plants and music:

1. Mileece

Sonic artist Mileece believes there is no utopia without nature, in her eyes “Life is already a utopia”. She’s a creator of plant music, ‘Plusic’ if you will. Giving plants their chance to sing, she uses a technical mix of amplifiers and audio programmes that turn the micro-voltages in roots, leaves and stems into sounds. These plant-generated sounds are otherworldly. A random mix of ambient notes interspersed with crackles and pops, make you wonder, if plants could talk is this what it would sound like?

Be amazed by ‘Plusic’ here.

2. Mort Garson – Mother Earth’s Plantasia

Canadian composer Mort Garson was one of the first users of the ‘Moog’ synthesiser back in the 60s, this enabled him to create entirely new music at the time. Believing his psychedelic beats encouraged plants to grow faster, he created the ambient electronic album Mother Earth’s Plantasia; its tagline “Warm earth music for plants…and the people who love them”.

For a gentle morning, listen to the full album here.

3. Peter Coffin – Music for Plants

“The following performance was created specifically for plants” is the opening line of cult artist Peter Coffin’s Music for Plants series. Coffin’s contemporary practice centres around performance and music; experiences in which humans are not the anticipated audience make us think about how plants must experience the world. Coffin produced three albums, as well as a plant-filled greenhouse installation in 2002. Ariel Pink, Laurie Anderson, Mice Parade, Philip Glass, Yoko Ono and Sonic Youth were all invited to perform inside it.

Watch a reimagination of the original Music for Plants (by Red Bull Studios) here.

Photo courtesy Peter Coffin Studio

4. Data Gardens

Joe Patitucci and Jon Shapiro believe that if we want to create a better future then we must establish a stronger bond with nature. So in 2011, they created a record label that distributes its music through downloadable codes printed on seed paper. Which means, after downloading the code you’re able to plant the paper and grow your own plants. Since founding the label, both artists have gone on to create events and installations involving plants and music that continue to promote a healthy relationship between plants and humans.

To get your own seed paper record, visit their webshop here.

5. Music of the Plants Festival

Music of the Plants is an organisation that takes research into plant intelligence and perception to another level. Most recently they developed a device that uses a MIDI interface to transform biorhythms of plants into music. This year they celebrated by setting up their first festival in Paris. The festival included a diverse line-up, from scientists interested in plant communication to jazz musicians in collaboration with wild orchids from Denmark. If you were ever looking for an alternative to Chelsea Flower Show, this may be it.

Discover more about the festival here.