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Location-Aware Music


What if the next time you went on a road trip with friends and family, you didn’t fight over the car radio or organize your own digital playlists. What if instead, the journey and path you take creates a symphony for you?


Sounds poetic, doesn’t it? But it is actually true. We watched a TED Talks video featuring Ryan Holladay about location-aware music, which plays beautiful music based on where you are and the direction you travel. Think of it as the choose-your-own-adventure books you read as a child and applied it to music.


Holladay and his brother Hays use GPS (the same technology that gives you driving directions when you’re lost) and created their first composition in 2011 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  Walk by one section of the mall and you’ll hear string instruments, walk to another and you’ll hear chimes and harps.


“It’s an array of distinct melodies and rhythms that fit together like pieces of a puzzle and blend seamlessly based on the listener’s chosen trajectory,” Holladay said during his TED Talks.


Once you leave the mall, the music disappears and there is no way to hear the music again, except to return to the mall.


When the app was initially released, The Washington Post wrote: “Sounds geeky, right? It is. But like the most fantastic collisions of music and technology, it feels magical. And in an iPod era, where bite-size MP3s have threatened to vanquish the traditional album format, Bluebrain is helping redefine what an album can actually be. Somewhere, Sgt. Pepper is smiling.”


Since then, they have released three other apps in including those for New York City, Austin and Ballston. They are also working with Stanford’s Experimental Media Arts Lab to create a score for the entire stretch of Pacific Coast Highway. Given the beauty of Hwy 1, from the ocean to the trees, we cannot wait to hear the app! Apparently, the brothers are also astounded by the beauty and feel a little overwhelmed but we hope to hear it soon!


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