Nobody writes music for plants anymore. There’s music about plants, like songs about flowers, and grass, and trees. There are songs about how poison ivy is itchy and how weed is cool. But where are the songs for plants?
In 2007, a study by South Korean scientists found that plants grew at a faster rate when exposed to music, particularly classical music.
“The boffins noted that sounds at 125Hz and 250Hz made genes rbc5 and Ald, that are known to respond to light, more active whereas sound waves at 50Hz made these genes less active, reports the Telegraph," according to MedIndia.net.
In the study, the boffins, who I assume died to bring us this information, opted for stuff like Beethoven and other popular classical music to get the plants going, probably unaware that 30 years prior, a Canadian electronic musician wrote an album specifically for this purpose.
That album was Mother Earth’s Plantasia and the dude was Mort Garson. It was released in 1976 with the subtitle: “warm earth music for plants … and the people who love them.”
Plantasia was released one year after Garson’s Ataraxia: The Unexplained (Electronic Musical Impressions of the Occult), a spooky, atmospheric album which sounds like Zappa writing for Kraftwerk. It’s a strange, sort of disorienting album and though I’m not sure of the science behind it, I’m pretty sure playing it for plants would kill them. I only mention it because Plantasia, by contrast, is almost humorously relaxing.
The opening sequence will sound familiar to anyone who’s played video games made between 1987-94. There’s a Nintendo-ish vibe to the whole thing, and not just for the obvious similarities in instrumentation. Plantasia has a Nintendo game’s sense of adventure and romance, sort of whimsical without all the tiring nonsense that usually accompanies whimsy. Plantasia is cartoonish and sincere, and immensely satisfying to listen to.
My first contact with Plantasia was in 2014, when I interviewed (Pittsburgh’s own) Jeremy Malvin a.k.a. Chrome Sparks and discovered it on one of his playlists. I was intrigued by the name, and was hooked about eight seconds into the opening track. My memory’s a little fuzzy, but from what I can remember, Malvin had a similar first experience, showing up early to a gig in the U.K., hearing it over the speakers and demanding to know everything about the album playing. I believe this is the average response.
Plantasia is not on Spotify, nor is it easy to come by on vinyl but it’s not impossible to find on CD. I found mine used on Amazon for under $15. In the meantime, this YouTube video gets the job done (plus there are great comments) and while I don’t recommend skimming track by track, it’s hard to ignore that “Rhapsody in Green” is a standout.