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Portfolio SARF 2024
Hiroshi Yasuda/Blue Carbon Sound Artist

Artwork#1 Sonification of Blue Carbon by Seaweed Redemption

Artwork #1
Sonification of Blue Carbon

This video montage combines diverse footage arranged in scenes, accompanied by two of my music collective Blue Carbon Sound’s songs titled Blue and Sach. This video not only features the music we create, it also shows our creative process. Viewers can here discover how seaweed compositions are created through recording sessions in the studio and outdoor spaces, as well as during public performances and workshops. Our process is collaborative and experimental, between us musicians, and also with our audience when we perform.


Our creative performance unit is named “Seaweed Redemption” under the development of Blue Carbon Sound to enhance the Climate Change awareness in Japan. Through creating sound from the idea of “Blue Carbon,” a term used by the United Nation to distinguish the carbon dissolved underwater with regard to the Global Warming.

About the musical compositions:

“BLUE” is rather freely improvised with the scraping noise from dried Kelp, a large alga grown underwater. Inspired by Miles Davis’s jazz composition “Blue in Green”, this performance evokes the natural carbon cycle underwater. Both the color green (the green carbon from the plants on land) and the blue (the blue carbon from oceanic plants) have their own characteristics. The sound of dried kelp sometimes brings us to the ever floating feeling underwater and reminds us of where life came from at the beginning of life on Earth.


"SACH” is a variation on the Japanese nursery rhyme 'Anta Gata Doko Sa.' This new composition employs the contra-fact technique commonly used in jazz to reimagine an existing traditional song into a contemporary composition, thereby suggesting the discovery of new value in a specific music format. The piece intertwines even and odd measures, and just before the final repeat, five beats flip the entire rhythm structure of the song. While the original song's title questions the listener's origin—which is relevant in an island nation like Japan—through lyrics that deal with encounters between compatriots from different regions within the country, the focus shifts to celebrating the coexistence of different cultures. This is highlighted through the rhythmic inversion effect of the quintuple meter in instrumental music. The numerical value of five also showcases the power of seaweed, able to isolate carbon dioxide five times more than the land plants

Artwork#2 Seaweed Musical Instruments

Artwork #2

My idea was not to create sound effects that mimic the ocean's sounds but to produce sound directly from the seaweed. I first started using large, dried kelp sheets to create percussion sounds. Later, for variety, I researched 'rubbing sounds' and developed a method using dried kelp with a viola bow, adapting an existing contemporary instrument called the daxophone. Finally, I attached contact microphones to the kelp to study its acoustics, capturing the vibrations directly as a sound source. I explore differences in timbre due to the various kelp shapes: rich percussive sounds from cubes, and brush-like effects from thin-sliced pieces. Additionally, I created a technique to produce sound by running high-tension strings along the sides of the kelp. (Artwork #5)


I use kelp to extract the ocean sound from its body, and I also use Asparagopsis (a red seaweed that reduces methane formation from cows’ rumen) with transforming its color into sound using the computer program MAX (Artwork 9-10), which I co-developed for musical performance purpose. MAX works in two ways. It converts color to sound during live performances when I use colorful seaweed, and MAX converts data into sound (data sonification) for sound recordings.

Artwork#3 Recording the Sounds of the Environment

Artwork #3

In my practice, I use microphones in two ways: to record and amplify the notes and sounds created with seaweed and instruments, and to capture ambient sounds in nature and urban environments. I then use both types of noises to create my sound art pieces. For that purpose, I work with a wide range of specialized microphones for field recording, such as hydrophones (capturing aquatic acoustics), geophones (sensitive to subtle terrestrial vibrations), and contact microphones (designed to register vibrations from oscillating objects, such as the kelp I play with). These devices magnify the acoustic footprint of musical instruments, broadening the spectrum of musical articulation. In addition, I also use conventional microphones, pivotal for intercepting aerial sound waves, thus forming the backbone of the 'blue carbon music’ technology. With these tools, I am able to integrate sounds coming from terrestrial, aquatic, and human-made environments, all critical in conveying the essence of climate change. During the fellowship, I will be using all these different types of microphone to record the sounds in SERC (Smithsonian Environmental Research Center) environments. In particular, the machine noises from the research fields captured directly with the contact microphone show unique sound mapping of Blue Carbon.

Artwork#4 Performances and Workshops

Artwork #4

As a musician, performances are a very important component of my practice. I have performed with Blue Carbon Sound at different music festivals, ecology workshops, and street concerts, showing the audience how we create music with seaweed and sharing our environmental message. These photographs are from different events. One at the Hotchpotch Music Festival, Yokohama, whose theme was 'Too damn HOT’— inspired by the title of an old jazz song by Cole Porter and referring to our planet’s intense heat. There, I facilitated workshops and simultaneously played on kelp instruments, creating a space for easy engagement with art and climate change awareness. The other event was a street performance in Tokyo, where our collective shared our music experiments and message with passersby; we even invited some of them use our seaweed instruments to experience their sound capacity themselves. Exchanges and interactions are integral parts in my practice.

Artwork#5 Photosynthesizers over Land and Sea: Take Five

Artwork #5
Take Five

This work is a joint performance of music created with the kelp instruments and the making of a seaweed installation, in the Japanese traditional Ikebana style. This performance took place at Nakacho House in Tokyo. While I am playing with my seaweed instruments, my collaborator and Ikebana artist Hiroe Katoh is arranging different fragments of kelp and various plants and flowers, creating a visually striking component to the piece. By using both sea and land vegetation, I want to highlight their similarity and how necessary their preservation is today: without the oxygenic photosynthesis process, humanity can not survive.


The improvisational materials for this collaboration with an Ikebana performance were inspired by "Take Five," a renowned jazz track. The choice reflects the fact that seaweeds store five times more carbon dioxide than land plants, akin to the song's five beats. The performance aims to capture the swaying of seaweed in the ocean using steady, long notes. Additionally, a new way to play kelp instruments was devised, using dried dark kelp with tightly stretched strings.

Artwork#6 Origami Kelp Frogs, a Timely Reminder

Artwork #6

Using Origami, the traditional Japanese paper folding technique, I have created several frogs with dried kelp. These origamis take inspiration in a well-known parable about a frog that fails to escape its fate in time, illustrating how long-term changes can hinder awareness and lead to delayed problem-solving. This story reflects our contemporary reality and relationship to climate change and disasters caused by human activity. I have incorporated the kelp frog in my musical performances, as a reminder that symbolizes the universal wish to solve global warming and to reach world peace. Lately, I had the opportunity to perform with one of seven pianos that survived the Hiroshima atomic bombing. I decided to incorporate kelp in that performance, through an origami frog representing a permanent witness of disasters, as well as music made with kelp instruments.

Artwork#7 Seaweed and Japanese Traditions

Artwork #7