Crystal Castle's new band is a little bit potty

PLANT POWER: This weekend plant at Crystal Castle in Mullumbimby will be wired up to a special device that measures electrical impulses from the leaves and roots.
PLANT POWER: This weekend plant at Crystal Castle in Mullumbimby will be wired up to a special device that measures electrical impulses from the leaves and roots.

THEY have been rehearsing for weeks and tomorrow a small orchestra of pot plants will give their first performance at Byron Shire's Crystal Castle.

The six plants, each hooked up to a bio-feedback synthesiser, will make "music" as part of the latest experience offered by Crystal Castle and Shambhala Gardens at Mullumbimby.

The "instrument" the plants will play in their 30-minute gig - which also includes a short history of the project and an introduction to the research involved - is an electronic device that measures electrical impulses from the leaves and roots and translates them through an algorithm into musical notes

The Music of the Plants program was devised after Crystal Castle owners Naren and Sono King visited the Damanhur eco-community in Italy who have been developing the technology after four decades of research.

Songs Crystal Castle's plants might like to cover

  • Strawberry Fields - The Beatles
  • Tiptoe through the Tulips - Tiny Tim
  • Heard it through the Grapevine - Marvin Gaye and Creedence
  • Build Me Up Buttercup - The Foundations
  • Edelweiss - Sound of Music
  • In Bloom - Nirvana
  • Sunflower - Lenny Kravitz
  • Lotus Flower - Radiohead
  • Dead Flowers - The Rolling Stones
  • The Rose - Bette Midler
  • The Pot - Tool
  • It's Not Easy Being Green - Kermit the Frog

Experiments with plant communication began in the 1970s with The Secret Life of Plants authors Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird who hooked plants up to a lie detector to see if they could respond to stimuli such as having their leaves burned.

The Damanhur community have continued the experiment, Crystal Castle's experience manager Stephanie Medew said, creating an instrument that sees a probe put into the plant's root system and another clipped to a leaf to measure pulses.

"Essentially it is bio-feedback with an instrument that picks up the electric pulses the plants give out," she said.

"The machine is simply converting those pulses into sounds, depending on how long and at what pitch they are put out."


  • When: Saturday and Sunday, 29 & 30 November 2014
  • Where: Crystal Castle & Shambhala Gardens, 81 Monet Drive, Mullumbimby
  • Time: 11:30am and 2:15pm (from 1 December 2014 it will be at 2:15pm daily)
  • Cost: Included in entry price

Ms Medow has been tasked with "training" the plants for their first performance and said each plant takes time to learn to "play" the instrument.

"It takes them a while, but they recognise they are making a sound," she said.

"When they discover they are in control of the sounds; they become independent musicians."

Any plant, from a blade of grass to a giant tree is capable of making music, she said. "When you hear the plant's music it changes your perception of them, of nature," she said.

"It's proving that plants are aware of what is going on around them and they are able to respond to that.

"When you experience a plant as a sentient being, it changes everything."

Topics:  crystal castle music

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