The Singing Oak
By Jim Hart

Project Design and Location

The Singing OakThe Singing Oak is simply a one hundred year old beautiful oak tree with an array of wind chimes hanging from its limbs, all tuned to play together in harmony.  When the wind activates those chimes, a song emerges from the tree linked solely to the breeze and created by nature, softly adding the magic of sound to the surrounding park.

The Singing Oak is located at the east end of “The Big Lake Project” in City Park, New Orleans.  New Orleans City Park is the seventh largest municipal park in the United States. 

“The Big Lake Project” turned a former golf course area into a multi-use green space.  The lake is directly north of the Delgado Art Museum and is surrounded by art works, a three-quarter mile jogging path, boat rental and wharf area as well as acres of green space for picnicking, play and enjoying nature.

The Singing Oak is positioned to catch lake breezes and add an auditory component to the natural environment around the lake.

History of Wind Chimes

The history of wind chimes dates back to prehistoric times in many cultures; however, their greatest and most elegant development was in east and south Asia, from Bali to Tibet and Japan.  Buddhists attached thousands of elegantly decorated, cast, or carved wind chimes and wind bells to the eaves of sacred religious structures to create an elaborate symphony in the wind. 

In Asia and the ancient Mediterranean, wind chimes were used to attract benevolent spirits.  In China and Japan they became decorative art in private homes as well as on sacred structures.  In the 19th and 20th centuries, their popular use spread more widely among Western countries.  Today, they are widely used around the world.  Many people consider wind chimes to be good luck.

 Wind chimes can have a healing effect on the mind and body.  The resonance and vibration of the sound is thought to release stress and emotional blockages in the body and calm the mind, thereby expanding conscious awareness and connection with spirit.  The positive sounds of wind chimes are thought to promote relaxation and reduce anger and tension.  It is thought that wind chimes help enhance the mind/body/spirit connection bringing us a sense of peace and well being.  It is believed that wind chimes can help bring balance and harmony to your garden and home; and they are often used in Feng Shui. 

Throughout history, wind chimes have continued to be popular for their beauty and pleasant melodies.


The music of The Singing Oak emerges from the interaction between natural forces and human imagination.  It demonstrates the harmony between nature and man in a way that is soothing and melodic to the human ear. 

The balance between the natural beauty of the oak itself and the song it emits, is not diminished by the hidden presence of the chimes making the sound.

Sound Composition

The chimes are tuned to the pentatonic scale, which is common in West African music, African-American spirituals, Jazz, Rhythm and Blues, and even Rock.  It is the scale of the melody to “Amazing Grace,” and many other songs interwoven in the musical history of New Orleans.  Tuned to the major pentatonic scale, the wind-generated music of The Singing Oak is reminiscent of the tuning and organic spontaneity of jazz and many traditional Louisiana songs. 

The fluctuation and strength of the wind dictates the intensity and harmonies of The Singing Oak.  The harmony and movement of the wind, the movement of the tree and the music created, provides a functional, natural, simplistic and pleasing art piece.

The tree itself is the focal point.  The flat black color of the chimes blends into the shadows of the limbs and leaves enhancing the illusion of a “Singing Oak”.

Project Materials

Music of the Spheres, Inc created the wind chimes provided using old world craftsmanship as well as the latest technology.  This company has created state of the art wind chimes since 1989.  Music of the Spheres, Inc. was founded by accomplished musician, Larry Roark, and his chimes have been called “the Stradivarius” of wind chimes.

Jim designed seven different, but matched sizes and tunings of wind chimes for this project.  They are up to fourteen feet tall! 

The Singing Oak will create its own persona over time.  It’s soothing songs during gentle breezes contrasting with its more resonant songs during the winds of spring and fall, sometimes reaching a crescendo of sounds during a summer thunderstorm.


To learn more about Jim's outdoor artistry and art installations, please visit


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