Self-Help for Indoor Plants

Stéphane Degoutin

Collection of vinyl records from the 1970s Performed lecture

2018

While searching for images, I was intrigued by a record sleeve : against a white background, seated in a circle, a quintet of musicians dressed in black play for a large fern. There's no name of artist, orchestra or band, just the title Music For Your Plants, written in green capitals in serif typography.

I realized that there were several records of this kind, dating from the 1970s.

What was this music for plants ?

Laboratoire modulaire, Caen, 13 avril 2023
Laboratoire modulaire, Caen, 13 avril 2023
Laboratoire modulaire, Caen, 13 avril 2023
Collection of vinyl records of music composed in the 1970s for green plants. Vintage turntable.

I was curious to discover the sounds behind these strange covers. On the basis of what research had they been composed ? I imagined unknown harmonies that would speak only to plants, and not necessarily appear melodic to a human ear. Perhaps the tempo would be very slow, in keeping with the stereotype that plants have all the time in the world ? Perhaps it would synchronize with the speed at which water spreads through stems and leaves ? Perhaps the structure would adopt a fractal logic, with sequences repeated identically at different scales ? Perhaps it would unfold in an infinite number of sequences, like a network of roots ? Perhaps there are melodic twists and turns between roots and mycelium ? Perhaps a link with the environment, the wind, the vibrations of sunlight ? Variations over a 24-hour sequence, to the rhythm of day and night ? Or even 365 days ? Or over centuries ?

And yet, as I listened to these records, I became more and more perplexed.

Each one of them brought a new disappointment. This was not at all what I had imagined.

The performance Self-Help for Indoor Plants tells the story of this disappointment.

Diffusion

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