Nature has always been a dominant theme in music. From lyrics to sound design, artists have incorporated nature into their musical creations since the conception of the art form. According to a 2020 study, music may even modify the way individuals visualize outdoor environments, making natural settings more relaxing and enjoyable. The close connection between the two ensures a continual experience for musicians.  who are actively trying to integrate their respect for the environment into their art.

Aditi Veena "Ditty" is an independent musical artist and urban ecologist, combining her passion for nature, a penchant for music, and an education in architecture to create an environmentally sensitive world. Growing up in the Indian capital Delhi, Ditty fondly remembers her parents encouraging her to spend time outdoors and participate in different artistic activities - prompting Ditty to develop a close relationship with nature despite living in one of the most populated cities in the world.

Aditi Veena "Ditty.” Image courtesy of Rediff

Having acquired a college education in urban ecology and architecture, Ditty recognized the transformation in her relationship with the city of her upbringing. She gained perspective on how pollution had greatly perturbed the city of Delhi and the environmental concerns it posed. “I remember reading a lot about Edward Lutyens, the landscape, construction, and design of Delhi," she said in an interview with The Curator Mag. In retrospect, university became the time she began to seriously ponder the relationship between humans and nature, and the looming climate crisis.

Another breakthrough came when Ditty was able to relocate to Sri Lanka as a conservation architect, connecting with nature at an even more intimate level - a relationship that culminated in her debut album, Poetry Ceylon - her interpretation of and an ode to the island. “I was extremely inspired by the island, and its eclectic people. The album is an account of my time there that I spilled out of myself as I played my guitar every night in my bedroom,” Ditty said in an interview with Rolling Stone India, shortly after the release of her album in 2019.

Ditty performing her music. Image courtesy of Rolling Stones India.

Natural sounds, such as the rustling of leaves, the chirping of birds, and the sounds of waves, play a critical role in the musical composition of Poetry Ceylon. Ditty firmly believes that the continuous disconnect of society from nature is the reason for the harm humans inflict on the planet, and the use of natural sounds in her music plays a role in connecting her audience with the reality of nature. “We forget we are nature. I just wanted to capture where we live and what I was writing about,” she said, adding that her album “starts with the sounds of the ocean and finishes with the sounds in [her] garden.”

Through her music and work as a conservation architect, Ditty has been successfully advocating for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for Climate Action. She actively believes in connecting with the earth and protecting it from man-made disasters. 

Just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ditty went on a carbon-neutral tour, the first of its kind in India, called Make Forests Not War. With the aid of permaculturist, I Claude Oprea, the idea was practised by planting enough trees in North Goa to offset the effects of her travels. 

Cover art of Ditty’s debut album. Image courtesy of Ditty via Tumblr.

Ditty also often talks about the sentimentality of her work, insisting that she does not simply want to “stop people from cutting trees,” but to make them feel a connection with the world around them. “I wanted people to feel because I know many people feel the same emotion as me. A lot of us are so overwhelmed by everything that is going on around us. We don’t even know the extent of corruption and its consequences,” she expressed in an interview with The Vegan Review.

She also explains that the purpose of her music is to “speak about wilderness and have people think about wilderness,” believing it to be the primary cause of major crises happening today.  

Ditty is performing in the outdoors to minimize the environmental effects of touring. Image courtesy of The Vegan Review.

Currently, Ditty is based out of Goa, India, where she actively works on permaculture systems, working in her community-run food forest and a farm-to-table restaurant.  The artist's focus right now is to convert degraded landscapes into a system that can harvest water and provide ecosystem services. 

Through their work, artists like Ditty continue to inspire their audiences to make a positive change to the planet we reside in. She focuses on motivating her listeners to connect with nature similarly. “A lot of the greatest masters and the greatest artists have found refuge in the natural world. The greatest poets write about flowers. Great dancers take their inspiration from the natural world. I urge everybody to go out and spend time in nature and let it inspire you to write, to make stuff,” she says.

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