Royal Parks arboriculturist Matt Steinmann is the creative mind behind Music for Trees, a new app that celebrates the awe-inspiring beauty of trees. It combines original music written for the trees, creating an immersive soundscape.
We spoke to Matt about how the app was brought to life and his hopes for what it could achieve.
“I’ve always loved trees, I used to climb the tall beech tree in my garden as a kid and then started hiking as I grew up. They’re so important to our lives so it’s a privilege to look after them. They’re beautiful and so resilient.
“I started working at The Royal Parks in 2012, fresh out of college. It’s one of the best decisions in my life. I have my wife to thank, she’s a garden designer. I was helping her out and she pushed me to apply.
“I came up with the idea for Music for Trees while I was surveying. I spend a lot of time slowly assessing the condition of the roots, trunk and canopy. I tend to listen to music while I work, and sometimes the music seems a perfect accompaniment to the tree. I took the next step and imagined whether music could be composed for trees.
“I hope app users will find it fun, interesting and intriguing and that they’ll spend some time looking at trees in a new way, and hear the character of the trees in the music. They’ll also be listening to young composers, so they’ll have the chance to experience new sounds. Spending time outdoors in nature can really make you feel good, so I hope people take the opportunity to step out of their daily lives for little while."
The value of trees
“Our parks and gardens are full of trees from all over the world but there are only about 60 tree species that are native to the UK. This can have ecological benefits but also create problems as disease is more virulent outside its native habitat. This has a big impact on how we manage trees in the Royal Parks, with horse chestnut, sweet chestnut and oak all suffering from recently arrived disease.
“Climate change is a worry and can make the impact of diseases worse. Across London the pressure to replace large trees, like London planes, with younger more manageable trees threatens the character of our streets. But Londoners love trees and their parks and young people in particular are engaged with environmental issues.
“These days more people understand the value of our natural environment. It’s up to us to ensure that it is preserved and enhanced for future generations. If this app can make just a few people more aware of how important trees are and the benefits they have then I’ll be very happy.”