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Music by VICE

This Sound Designer's Developed the Technology to Turn Plant Sounds Into Music

In this ep of ​Sound Builders, singer Samantha Urbani meets Mileece, a sound designer who developed technology for sonifying plant life.

by Xavier Aaronson
Sep 16 2014, 8:24pm

What if plants could solo? It would stand to reason that if plants were given a musical mouth, they could create inimitable soundscapes.

In this episode of Sound Builders, presented by Harman, singer Sam Urbani heads to Los Angeles to meet with Mileece. She's a sonic artist and environmental designer who's developed the technology to give silent seedlings a portal to their own sonic expression.

Channeling a plant's sentience into an instrument is no obvious feat. With an audiophile background as a programmer, Mileece effectively turns a garden into an organic medium for music. She pulls this off by attaching electrodes to leafy limbs, which conduct the bio-electric emissions coming off living plants. The micro-voltage then gets sucked into Mileece's proprietary software, turning data into ambient melodies and harmonic frequencies.

In Mileece's botanic recording space. Photo courtesy the author.

But it's simply not enough for these green little squirts to just spit out noise. All this generative organic electronic music must sound beautiful, too. As a renewable energy ambassador, Mileece's larger goal behind her plant music is to enhance our relationship with nature. And if plant music can have a pleasing aesthetic articulation then hopefully we all can give a greater damn about our environment.

While some may see the paradox in an organic medium generating electronic music, Mileece does not. She sees this as a symbiotic relationship, a vital one, and one that hints to a larger relationship she's been trying to unify, which is that between humans and nature.

Catch episode one: The Techno-Collagist Who Turns Lasers and Human Limbs into Instruments

This article was originally published on sister site Motherboard.