Musical roads of the world.
January 19, 2009
“… kind of reminds me of a thing my father was involved with many years ago before I was born – in the early 1950’s. Goodyear Aerospace in Arizona (a division of Goodyear Tire and Rubber) made a road (test track) that had many parallel groves cut into it like groves of a record player. After the concrete road was poured, a big machine with many little grove making wires trailing behind it would go over the wet concrete and make many little parallel cuts in the concrete effectively making a “record track” for tires that traveled over it.
The reason my father was involved was that he had a very low frequency loud voice that was perfect for recording messages that were to be sent to drivers driving over this road. When someone would drive over this road, their tires would act like the needle of a record player and would vibrate in time with my father’s voice that was scratched into the concrete sections of this road. There were simple test messages in the road like: “Stop ahead” and “Speed Limit 30 Miles Per Hour” and “You are driving off the road!” and “Wrong Way” that made no sense when driven over backwards.
Goodyear tested it for many years and found out that: 1. It startled drivers way too much – . 2. It caused tires (of the time) to have less traction in wet weather conditions causing skidding. 3. Induced vibration in cars that led to skidding. With all of these reasons, Goodyear abandoned the project in the 60’s but the test track still exists somewhere near Phoenix Arizona as I vaguely remember my father driving my family around the thing when I was but a wee little kid. I remember his voice coming from the tires – very loudly and clearly I might add – with a slight echo in it because the front tire would play the track just ahead of the back tire – making it sound very GOD like and kind of spooky.”
“Disney has an air strip called the STOL Port by the Magic Kingdom parking lot.The blip on STOL Port holds a lot of mystery and always has. STOL Port is quite a work of art if you know the secret. It was formed as not just an airstrip, but as a test ground for the property roads. It is laid out in sections that comes together at different in different lengths. As a plane lands and rolls over the connecting sections, the bumping from a single axle vehicle makes/plays Zip-a-dee-doo-da. The imagineer who thought of this was rumored to have wanted to do the roads like this, but people did not get it. It is guessed that the problem lay with 2 axle vehicles that distorted the melodies.” (from ‘Disney Secrets’ http://www.hiddenmickeys.org )
More recently the Musical Road phenomena has been used by artists, advertisers and as tourist attractions:
The Asphaltophone, Gylling, Denmark
In 1995 the Danish artists Steen Krarup Jensen and Jakob Freud-Magnus created a version of the musical road called the ‘The Asphaltophone’ in Gylling, Østjylland, Denmark.
The Anyang singing Rd, Anyang, Korea
The Anyang Singing Road
Anyang, a suburb of Seoul built a ‘Singing Road’ in 2006 initially as an experiment in keeping tired drivers awake: Seung-Hwan Shin, manager of the Korean Highway Corp., said, “The road is located in a downhill, S-curved road, so there’s been lots of accidents from dozing and speeding.” (68% of Korean traffic fatalities are caused by tiredness, apparently) but has now become something of a tourist attraction. Approaching the road at 100km/h will give the sleepy driver a near accurate rendition of ‘Mary had a little lamb’.
Hokkaido Industrial Research’s ‘Melody Road’
Not to be outdone Shizuo Shinoda of the Hokkaido Industrial Research Institute in northern Japan in 2008 created three ‘Melody Roads’ each delivering thirty second interludes of japanese pop songs: one in Wakayama playing “Miagete goran yoru no hoshi wo” (“look up at the stars in the night” by Kyu Sakamoto ) if driven at 40km/hr, another in Gunma, which when driven over at 50 km/h reproduce “Memories of Summer” and one in Hokkaido (no song name supplied)
“You need to keep the car windows closed to hear well,” wrote one Japanese blogger. “Driving too fast will sound like playing fast forward, while driving around 12mph has a slow-motion effect, making you almost car sick.”
Civic Road, Lancaster, california, USA,
Honda Civic ‘Musical Road’
The Most recent application of audio road corrugation is the ‘Civic Musical Road’ developed as an advertising gimmick by Honda in 2008 in Lancaster, California. the original Musical Road played a version of the ‘William tell overture’ over a quarter mile stretch of the highway – but had to be paved over at the insistence of local residents tiring of nocturnal multi-vehicle reverberations of the lone ranger. The road was later re-located to Avenue G between 30th Street West and 40th Street West, beyond earshot of local residents:
“Take the 14 freeway to the Ave G exit and go west. Stay in the left lane and you will hear the road play the “William TellOverture” about a mile or so down the road…”