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troublemag | August 4, 2020

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Dear Tree

Dear Tree

a listening experience created by Rose Turtle Ertler 

“Dear tree,

Thank you for being here today for me and for everyone,

casting shade and giving a fresh breath

with deep and bold colours and gentle stillness.”

– by a contributor to Dear Tree, March 2020

As I lie under my walnut tree I observe many things. I feel sheltered, protected by a wise older being. Calmness. Beauty. It’s shape, with similarities to the human form, with a strong trunk and arms, tentacles reaching out, gathering, collecting information and stories, stretching and learning, leaning and swaying, with leaves for hair delicately adorned with green walnuts for bobbles.

In March 2020, I started a new project called Dear Tree with the simple intention of reminding people to pay attention to trees and to take time to focus on how nature exists within our lives. The aim is to create a soundscape designed to be listened to in headphones while lying under a tree. I want the tree to be the star. With no added adornments or props, lights or costumery, the tree stands as it is, as the listener melts into the raw earthiness that it provides.

Originally, I imagined a circle of people lying, in a thoughtful configuration, around a beautiful old tree, wearing headphones and listening to stories together, thoughts, ideas about this particular tree, all spoken by locals who know the tree.  That idea will develop later, but for now, during the Covid 19 pandemic, I have put a call out online for people to send me recordings of themselves talking to a tree in their own environment.

As with some of my other projects, I am interested in compiling a collection of different voices responding to one question or task from their unique perspective. Since I started this project two weeks ago, I have received nearly thirty recordings. These will all be entwined with field recordings of trees and their surrounds which I have been collecting lately to create the final soundscape.

I will continue to make more soundscapes as I receive more contributions from the public.

In order to have the intimate experience that I am hoping to create and to hear the details in the voices, this work should be listened to in headphones preferably while lying under a tree.

“Dear tree,

When I first met you I thought you were ugly, to be honest,

but now that I’ve lived with you for four years,

I’ve seen the fruit that you produce,

the deep shade, the birds that you feed, 

the blossoms that you make,

I think you’re wondrous in your scraggy dark-wooded way.

Thank you, tree.”

– by a contributor to Dear Tree, March 2020

Dear Tree – THE BRIEF : 

Step 1

Go outside to a tree (in your backyard or beyond). If you have no trees in the environment around you, just conjure up in your mind a tree you have previously encountered.

Step 2

Lie under the tree, looking up (or sitting with a good view of the tree is also fine).

Step 3

Press record on your phone or recording device.

Step 4

Starting with the words “Dear tree” record a short piece of anything you would like to say to the tree… anything about what you are seeing, feeling, hearing, experiencing in this moment with the tree. Try to speak clearly. Recordings should be maximum 30 seconds.

Step 5

Listen back to the recording to check that all words are easily audible.

Step 6

Send your recording to: roseturtle(at)gmail.com or through Messenger: Rose Turtle Ertler

*If English is not your first language, you are welcome to speak in your language either with or without an English translated version.  

**All contributors will be notified when the final audio creations will be freely available online. 

The finished Dear Tree soundscapes can be heard at:

www.roseturtleertler.com/dear-tree