How does music can be sustainable?

Updated: Dec 6, 2019

Fig.x: Comment on internet about Knurl and intention to reach goals of sustainability

For the long of 40 years sustainability is a unavoidable theme on every making area, since the world's climate has been dramatically changed affecting all environments of the world. Environmental actions aims to educate the vision and the design of daily human necessities, making things durable and harmless. Those choices are gradually becoming unavoidable in our daily lives. Every time you pay or choose, you vote, influence and decide. Our small and "invisible" choices make and huge impact on the thinking and the permeability of the planet. But the sense of responsibility and weight make people feel overloaded, confused and stressed about it.

That's how any musician would be confronted to this discussion. Like on this comment on fig. X, it feels that we already do enough. Our tools are zero-waste (would a violin be indeed sustainable?), we deal with non-material (sound) and our personal actions bring us already enough limitations and loses.

For the pass of some years of thinking and acting in aware of sustainability, I've been confirming what was always visible: Sustainability shouldn't be painful, expensive, selective and a difficult choice with harmful impacts to the comfort of your life. Sustainability aims to improve quality in both parts. As the term Hedonistic sustainability in architecture means, sustainability is here to improve the quality of our life. Starting destroying this thought, it's easy to understand the following concerns about how much does music contribute to global heating.

Leisure can be one of the most harmful tools of massive human control because it feels that it's our only escape door to the awareness of the daily life problems. Movies, music and visual arts could easily persuade our desires, emotions or actions for industry and media interests. And we allow ourselves to it because we want to feel disconnected at that specific moment to fully enjoy it. And that's why leisure is mainly very impactful to sustainability,it's the moment that we allow ourselves to make exceptions. Besides the common necessities that we have to handle as any human area: transportation, materials and right conscious actions; leisure also uses psycho-human manipulation to provoke desire.

A main advance relate to music and sustainability refers to Music distribution, whereas you can reduce your carbon footprint selling your CD digitally or change plastic CD packaging to cardboard digipacks. Which also allows to compensate the expenses paid by musician and it's producer company:

Fig. x: Comparison of six album purchase scenarios in GHG emissions (g CO2/album). Error bars represent 90% credible intervals from Monte Carlo analysis. (Source: Microsoft, Intel)

According to his, digital music production can reduce your carbon footprint to -80%. This can be visible at the graphic above, where only transport and delivery causes an impact of 1.500 CO2 grams.

But most of the music environmental impacts becomes from events ( concerts, shows, festivals). A lot of plastic package for food, Waste, excessive transport or Sound polution (Loud and constant sound stream). Most of the events-experiences looks to pinfold the listener to it's comfort, good-responsible choices and truly-relaxation, making he/she pay for each minute a drink, a snack, a souvenir or an simple picture.

Some artists started to wake up for this dilemma. Recently, Coldplay admitted to stop tours to not cause to much carbon footprint impact: "We're taking time over the next year or two, to work out how our tour can not only be sustainable [but] how can it be actively beneficial." There is also already some initiatives in the Netherlands of music Green tours, which the band is charged by solar panels or electricity generated by the public:

Fig.x: Florian Wolff in his green tour (Available at:

Intelligent design can also solve ecological problems and at the same time, attend new public necessities. Based on malleability, circular materiality and ethical resources:


Malleability means that the object is able to reprogram itself analogically and digitally. It sounds can be changed and transformed.

Circular material:

Recyclable materials on a large scale production can bring identity and a slow-cost budget, so using circular materials such as recyclable plastic from the ocean and wood floor titles allows us to react on hedonistic sustainability.

Ethical resources :

All the electronic devices should has a Rohs label, which means that no harmful chemicals were involved to build a device (Mercury, ).

To offer the possibility that the performer could use her/his free present energy (light, sound or thermo), we are including ethical resources policy which refers that every being has the right to generate and consume without financial intervention. In that case, we offer the possibility of using:

Photovoltaic technology: 6 solar panels are covering the tailpiece, its possible to play with or without it. They’re mainly designed to be charge while your cycle, transport to your conservatory or concert hall.

Sound energy Harvest: Cello has the advantage of being an instrument able to attend two condition for sound energy harvest: 68Hz resonance frequency of most piezos of the market, A string instrument able to reach 100dB with the C string. Being sound a source of energy, we worked on a circuit that we could storage an amount of energy to trigger the microcontroller used on the instrument. To activate the black beagle bone (the hardware used on the microcontroller bela), 5V is required. We applied an full wave rectifier in combination with a Dickson multiplier to get 9V as peak voltage.

Besides the importance of materiality, music area is not only limited to the material production, but how you also you think and create it. Acoustic Ecology has been expanding by recent ramifications started from the XXI century, investing in sound field techniques, installations or sound walks on civil or natural locations. There has been a great number of music production that aims to evaluate climate change awareness by sound, such as artistic pieces that validate earth-telluric sounds, tectonic movements or infra-ultra sounds audification.

Fig. x: Raviv Ganchrow. Telluric recording setup, Venedigergruppe, Austria, Aug. 05, 2018.This material is available at the research gate portal "Hearing geoelectricity" (

In general, only one statement to lead a conscious choice of our contemporary time has to be reinforced: Just because something is not visible and tactile, it doesn't mean that's not harmful. Such as the data policy, sound has several implications on the health and wealth of a being. Colliding two or more of those quoted practices, it is alread a step further to ecological awareness and sustainability of earth life quality.