NYC man Noah Jolly makes music with his spider plant

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A Manhattan electronics wiz is using his tech skills — and a house plant — to make music.

Noah Jolly, 28, created the music from a common spider plant in his Fort George apartment after hooking it up to a machine that could respond to electrical signals emitted from its leaves and stem.

In addition to carbon dioxide, plants generate electrical signals in response to light, water, and other aspects of their environment.


Noah Jolly hooked up plants in his apartment to a machine which allows them to compose music.
Noah Jolly hooked up plants in his apartment to a machine which allows them to compose music.

Jolly set up a device — known as an XY plotter machine — to react to those electrical impulses by moving a pen up and down on sheet music, which indicates where the notes should be.

“It’s a blank piece of sheet music with lines and the plant draws on that so we can kind of interpret where the notes would be and how long they’re held out,” he explained.

Jolly said that music from his spider plant can vary considerably.


“It’s a blank piece of sheet music with lines and the plant draws on that so we can kind of interpret where the notes would be and how long they’re held out,” Jolly explained.
“It’s a blank piece of sheet music with lines and the plant draws on that so we can kind of interpret where the notes would be and how long they’re held out,” Jolly explained.

“The plant gets a lot more active . . .when the plant is getting water and sunlight. But if it’s dried out and not getting any stimulus and sitting in a dark corner you get very few changes, longer slower notes,” Jolly said.

Henry Raber, who played the music on a guitar last week during a gig at the 18th Ward Brewing Company in Brooklyn, said it was an unusual experience.

“It was ethereal, beautiful. It was wavy. The way that it read on the clef was a lot of ups and downs and big dips,” said Raber, 27. “It was kind of all over the place but it was inside one key. It was pretty cool.”


Noah Jolly put his tech knowhow into an uncommon pursuit.
Noah Jolly put his tech know-how into an uncommon pursuit.
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Jolly, a North Carolina native, has a degree in music technology from the University of North Carolina Asheville and picked up experience with synthesizers after past gigs with Moog and Yamaha.

The music can often have a moody and ghostly quality, Jolly said.

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