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Data from sensors and microphones embedded in a living tree drives a physical and online sound installation.

Drawing from my recent works examining spatiality and resonance, WoodEar explores the musical and network mappings that can be created when a tree is considered as a resonant object. Composer David Dunn’s 2006 eco-acoustic project, The Sound of Light in Trees, showed the intense and complex sound world that exists within the bark of a tree being destroyed by beetles. In WoodEar I am not just interested in resonances within the trunk, but in a number of constantly-changing environmental factors that impact the tree’s life and are filtered through its body: light, external sound, wind, and temperature.


To capture these various elements, I propose to connect a number of different sensors and contact microphones to a single tree. The sensor data would be collected by a Bluetooth or WiFi enabled Arduino microcontroller and transmitted to a nearby installation listening location. The two contact microphones embedded within the trunk would send audio directly to the audio interface. The listening location would contain a Mac Mini computer, a digital audio interface, and a pair of studio monitors. In addition to the local playback, sound elements from the tree would be streamed to a website, allowing visitors to manipulate and mix the different musical streams via a browser-based interface.


The composition of the piece will focus on how to treat the different streams of information. For example, I expect that the accelerometers will pick up the gentle swaying of the tree in a breeze – this type of data stream could be used as a low frequency oscillator (LFO) to influence or interact with other sound elements. Photosensors positioned around the trunk should each pick up different light levels depending on weather, season, and time of day. Contact microphones embedded within the tree may pick up external sounds – aircraft passing overhead, squirrels scrambling up the trunk, and wind creaking the boughs. The compositional challenge will be to design a sound world that embodies both the distinct and interrelated properties of these different elements.


Bringing the sounding body of the tree to the network is a natural fit – a tree is a network too: roots sensing and absorbing nutrients, leaves sensing and photosynthesizing sunlight, and phloem and xylem running throughout to carry nutrients across the structure. WoodEar attempts to merge the resonant qualities of this biological network with the digital network. Projecting the tree data into the Internet gives people anywhere access to the environmental experiences of the tree – one that might be very distant from them, but that is still contributing oxygen to and drawing carbon dioxide from the air they breathe. The network enables this connection like no other medium.


Great care would be taken to not harm the tree used for this piece – I would consult an arborist and other relevant experts as necessary. The tree will need to be located near a building with an Internet connection.


Artist fee: $1500

Bluetooth or WiFi capable Arduino board: $150

Accelerometers: $140 (2 + 1 spare)

Photosensors, contact microphones, and thermometer: $50

Wires and weather-shielding materials: $100

Audio cables and assorted connectors: $100

Mac Mini: $700

Monitor pair for site audio: $700

Speaker stands for monitors: $105

Website development: $500

Digital audio interface (already own)

Total request: $4,045


months 0 – 3: Acquire sensors, microcontroller, and related gear. Test sensors and contact microphones on a small tree next to my house. Determine best methods for weather-proofing sensors and various electronic gear. Begin search for local (or even non-local) host for initial install – University of Virginia campus is a probable candidate.
months 3 – 6: Finalize installation site. Complete extended test of sensors and microphones in various weather conditions and prepare deliverables for initial install. Now that data streams are available, composition process can begin.
months 6 – 9: Design web-based interface to allow users to listen to and mix the tree music streams. Create data-to-audio mappings and compose, compose, compose.
months 9 – 12: Finalize web interface, which will be hosted on my website, as well as the non-interactive form of the piece for the monitors at the installation site. Install at site, test, launch, and publicize.

Project Location
Charlottesville, VA

Work Samples

ItSpace (2007/2008) is my most recent piece of internet-based art. It exists in two forms: a series of pages within, and a separate gallery-based installation in which users push buttons on photos of objects to trigger real-time remixes of each objects sounds. My proposal for WoodEar uses both hardware components such as microcontrollers and sensors, and an interactive online component ItSpace is an example of my work with each. The MySpace version of ItSpace was featured on NPRs Day to Day in 2008 and the physical version of ItSpace has been accepted to the art gallery at SIGGRAPH 2011 (see the Gallery ItSpace link at the top of the page to see a video of the installed piece).

Solera (2009) was a continuous sound installation that ran for three weeks in the lobby of the studio art building at the University of Virginia. It recorded, accumulated, and replayed the sounds of the space over the time of the installation. Like my proposal for WoodEar, Solera attempted to make present the otherwise imperceptible larger patterns of activity that resonated the space over hours, days, and weeks. Solera was also reviewed in Charlottesvilles weekly news and arts magazine, C-Ville (link provided on my website).

Panta Rhei (2008/2009) was the result of a collaboration with Lanier Sammons. It uses four Arduinos to control 24 LEDs and 24 corresponding photo-resistors. A Max/MSP patch analyzes the data and through simple rules, creates a complex emergent light display that can be influenced when a person blocks or interrupts the light with their hands. It is another example of my work with sensors, microcontrollers, and audio software – all components of my WoodEar proposal.



University of Virginia

Ph.D., Composition and Computer Technologies, 2010

Dissertation: “Spatial Exploration: Physical, Abstracted, and Hybrid Spaces as Compositional

Parameters in Sound Art”

Stanford University

Non-degree-seeking visiting researcher, 2002 – 2003

Dartmouth College

M.A., Computer Music, 1999

University of Florida

B.A, English, 1997


Curve (2010). Four-channel site-specific installation for an echoing curved wall.

Chirp! : playing summer in winter (2010). Summer-evoking installation to surround improvising musicians. For performance on a cold winter evening.

Sound Study at the Center of the End of Things (2010). Interactive four-channel installation.

Solera: for sound, site, and time (2009). Four-channel, four-microphone time-accumulating installation.

Panta Rhei (2008). An interactive light and sound sculpture in collaboration with Lanier Sammons.

ItSpace (gallery version) (2008). A live physical installation based on the online ItSpace project.

ItSpace (2007). An online participatory sound installation within Commissioned by the Networked_Music_Review.

Discordia (2003). A new media/arts/technology weblog. International collaboration with five other theorists and artists.

sibling revelry (2001). Web-based interactive sound installation. Collaboration with Gregory Traub.

NetSong (2000). Web-based sound installation for synthesized voice and search engine. Collaboration with Amy Alexander.

bits & pieces (1999). Web-based sound installation for processing Internet audio samples.


Passages and Recesses (2010). For solo flute and network-connected spaces.

Study No. 1 for Bodies, Metal, and Air (2010). Live performance for dancers and sculptural objects. Collaboration with Dinah Gray (choreographer).

reMix House (2007). Commissioned composition for the Mix House project by Karen Van Lengen (architect), Joel Sanders (architect), and Ben Rubin (new media artist).

convergence (2007). For multichannel computer generated tape.

nodes (2006). For violin, oboe, and network-connected spaces.

next ground loop (2006). For violin, viola, cello, piano, and Internet feedback.

ground loops (2005). For solo percussion and Internet feedback.

rarefractions (2005). For percussion trio (vibraphone, marimba, and glockenspiel).

points of interest (2005). For solo trombone.

bassoonism (2004). For solo bassoon.

portfoliosis (2003). Eight-channel computer generated tape piece.

10five1 (2003). Computer generated tape piece.

etude no. 4 (2002). Computer generated tape piece.

retour (2002). Eight-channel computer generated tape piece.

aurora (1999). Processed Internet sound.

bass cable (1999). Computer generated tape piece.

cable (1999). Computer generated tape piece.

experiment on unknown sample (1999). Processed Internet sound.

Jonestown (1999). Tambourine, voice, and real-time computer processing.

gate study no. 1 (1998). Computer processed voice.

piano installation (1998). Computer controlled piano.

trilogy (1998). Computer generated tape piece.

Stutter (1997). Computer generated tape piece.

water retention (1996). Computer generated tape piece.

C-Span (1996). Computer generated tape piece.

Evolution123 (1996). Computer generated tape piece.


Curve. Installation for the echoing balcony wall of Old Cabell Hall at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, May 4, 2010.

Sound Study at the Center of the End of Things. “The Center for the Study of the End of Things” Symposium, Charlottesville, February 12, 2010.

Solera. Installation in the lobby of Ruffin Hall at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Oct. 26 – Nov. 14, 2009.

Panta Rhei. Spark Festival, University of Minnesota, February 17 – 22, 2009.

ItSpace. Technosonics @ Live Arts, Charlottesville, November 14, 2008

Panta Rhei. Technosonics @ Live Arts, Charlottesville, November 14, 2008.

ItSpace. ‘Audio January,’ The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative, Charlottesville, VA, 2008.

NetSong. ‘Transcodex,’ Boston CyberArts Festival, April 2003.

bits & pieces. ‘Kontrollfelder’ (Control Panels): Programming as an Artistic Practice, Dortmund, Germany, April 2002.

bits & pieces, ‘transmediale.02 [go public!]’ – International Media Art Festival, Berlin, 2002.

bits & pieces. Art on the Net 2001: Post-Cagian Interactive Sounds, Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts, Tokyo, October 2001.

NetSong. Art on the Net 2001: Post-Cagian Interactive Sounds, Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts, Tokyo, October 2001.

bits & pieces. ‘Media@terra,’ International Art and Technology Festival, a moving festival traveling through Eastern and Central Europe. 2001.

NetSong. European Media Arts Festival, Osnabrück, Germany, April 2001.

NetSong. ‘CADE’ Festival, Glasgow School of Art, Scotland, April 2001.

bits & pieces. ‘immedia1901,’ Digital Art Exhibition, Univ. of Michigan, 2001.

NetSong. ‘Net.congestion,’ festival, Amsterdam/Internet, October 2000.

bits & pieces. ‘net condition,’ Center for Art and Media, Karlsrühe, Germany, 2000.

bits & pieces. ‘<img_src>,’ Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA, May 2000.


Study No. 1 for Bodies, Metal, and Air. McGuffey Art Center, Charlottesville, March 5, 2010.

ground loops. Percussive Arts Society International Conference (PASIC). Mike Schutz performing, Indianapolis, IN, November 11, 2009.

ItSpace (concert version). Noise in the System, McGuffey Art Center, Charlottesville, November 2, 2007.

ground loops. Alvin Lucier and Friends, Mike Schutz performing, University of Virginia, September 16, 2006.

ground loops. Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS) National Conference, University of Oregon, March 30, 2006.

next ground loop. The NeXT Ensemble, University of Virginia, March 23, 2006.

ground loops. Digitalis, Mike Schutz performing, University of Virginia, May 3, 2005.

rarefractions. Talujon Percussion Quartet, University of Virginia, March 25, 2005.

retour. Florida Electro-Acoustic Music Festival, University of Florida, April 3, 2004.

portfoliosis. SEAMUS National        Conference, San Diego State University, March 27, 2004.

portfoliosis. CCRMA Fall Concert, Stanford University, October 29, 2003.

retour. ‘Woodstockhausen,’ University of California Santa Cruz, September 27, 2003.

etude no. 4. ‘Woodstockhausen,’ University of California Santa Cruz, September 27, 2003.

etude no. 4. ‘The Electric Rainbow Coalition’ festival, Dartmouth College, August 23, 2003.

retour. SEAMUS concert, International Electro-Acoustic Music Festival, Bourges, June 7, 2003.

retour. ‘The Washington Invitational,’ University of Washington, June 7, 2003.

retour. CCRMA Winter Concert, Stanford University, February 13, 2003.

Jonestown. Festival of New Musics, Dartmouth College, April 29, 1999.

trilogy. SEAMUS National Conference, San Jose Sate Univ., San Jose, California, March 28, 1999.

Jonestown. World Music Hall, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, 1999.

trilogy. ‘Unbalanced Connection 6,’ University of Florida, February 19, 1999.

gate study no. 1. Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College, 1998.

water retention. ‘the two-sided triangle’ concert, Institute for Computer and Electronic Media,

Essen, Germany, May 1998.

trilogy. Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College, 1998.

Stutter. Sixth Annual Florida Electro-Acoustic Music Festival, Univ. of Florida, 1997.

Evolution123. Fifth Annual Florida Electro-Acoustic Music Festival, Univ. of Florida, 1996.


“Peter Traub’s sound sculpture is something to shout about”. Fitzgerald, Brendan. C-Ville. No. 21.44. Nov. 3rd, 2009.

“Composer and Installation Artist Peter Traub Explores Sound, Space and Time”. Ford, Jane. UVA Today. October 26th, 2009.

“Objects Sing at ItSpace”. Radio segment produced by Jesse Dukes for Hearing Voices. Broadcast on National Public Radio’s “Day to Day”, February 25th, 2008.


Guest remote lecturer (via Skype) on physical, abstracted, and hybrid spaces in sound art. Digital Arts Program at The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. October 27th, 2010.

Guest lecturer on early network music. The Arts and Technology (undergraduate class at UVA).

March 23rd, 2010.

Guest lecturer on network music. Digital Vernacular Music-Culture (undergraduate class at UVA).

January 8th, 2009.

Opening speaker at Programmable Media II Symposium. Pace University, NYC. April 11, 2008.


Traub, P. 2005. Sounding the Net: Recent Sonic Works for the Internet and Computer Networks. Contemporary Music Review. Vol. 24, No. 6, December 2005, pp. 459 – 481.

Traub, P. 1999. bits & pieces: A Sonic Installation for the World Wide Web. M.A. in Electro-Acoustic Music Thesis, Dartmouth College, May 1999.


Traub, P. 2009. Interview: Natasha Barrett. Networked_Music_Review.

Traub, P. 2008. Interview: Jeff Talman. Networked_Music_Review.

Traub, P. 2008. Interview: Karen Van Lengen. Networked_Music_Review.

Traub, P. 2008. Interview: Stephen Vitiello. Networked_Music_Review.

Traub, P. 2007. Interview: Bill Fontana. Networked_Music_Review.

Traub, P. 2007. Interview: Cardiff + Miller. Networked_Music_Review.

Traub, P. 2005. Interview: Golan Levin (reprinted). Networked_Music_Review.

Traub, P. 2005. Interview: Max Neuhaus (reprinted). Networked_Music_Review.


University of Virginia

MUSI 435: Interactive Media (TA). Taught by Prof. Matthew Burtner.

MUSI 205: American Musical Mavericks (TA). Taught by Prof. Matthew Burtner.

MUSI 235: Technosonics – Digital Music (TA). Taught by Prof. Matthew Burtner.

MUSI 339: Introduction to Computer Music (TA). Taught by Prof. Matthew Burtner.

Dartmouth College

CC 12: Music and Computers (TA). Taught by Visiting Prof. Jean Piché.


Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dissertation Year Fellowship, 2009 – 2010

Double Hoo Grant from the University of Virginia, 2010

University of Virginia Award for Excellence in Scholarship, 2008

SEAMUS/ASCAP Student Commission Competition Finalist, 2006

Jefferson Fellow at the University of Virginia, 2004 – 2008

Full Scholarship and Stipend, Dartmouth College, 1997 – 1999

National Merit Scholar, 1993 – 1997

Florida Undergraduate Scholarship, 1993 – 1997


“Love 4 Haiti: A spectacular night of art, music, and dance to raise funds for Haitians in need”

January 23rd, 2010

Charlottesville, VA

Co-organizer with Wendy Hsu. “Love 4 Haiti” featured performances by local artists, an art auction, food, and drink. The event raised $8,500 in donations for charities working in the aftermath of the devastating January 12th earthquake.