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Turning Soil Data into Music


Ode to Soil is a research through design (RtD) project that tracks different attributes of soil (e.g., temperature, humidity, biometric movement) and translates the digital reads into musical notes. The interactive prototype explores a more embodied and aesthetic form of human-nature interaction that attunes human senses to the rhythms of the natural environment. The design is grounded on my long-term ethnographic work with small-scale farmers who seek to establish a more embodied and intimate relationship with the land. 


  • Ethnography

  • Research through Design

  • Data sonification

  • Arduino prototyping 


  • Increase emotive connection to the land and support conservation efforts through music. Facilitate public participation and retention in environmental protection and restoration initiatives.

  • Reduce the cognitive load involved in interpreting soil data to help the gardeners and farmers remain focused on their work and increase labor efficiency. 

  • Contribute to the development of air quality windchime which I collaborated with Microsoft Research to allow users to "listen to air" to perceive its quality. The design improves involvement in citizen science initiatives, cultivates sensibilities to the environment, and encourages sustainable behaviors.


Paul Johns (research engineer), Matthew Francisco (engineer), Dominic Matthys (undergraduate researcher), Noor Hussein (undergraduate researcher).



*This project was partly funded by the Ministry of Education, Taiwan. 

Good Soil Sample Music
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Bad Soil Sample Music
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