Getting a buzz on while you drive
January 6, 2011 5:51 AM   Subscribe

Heading out for a drive this weekend? Live near Lake Biwa in Japan? Then head over the O-hashi ('Big Bridge') and sing along with the music your car will make as it runs over the 'Melody Road'. These attractions (distractions?) - created by carving ridges into the surface of the road, causing your tires to play 'music' - have popped up all over Japan in recent years (here's an English-language news clip on the phenomenon). But if you are a road engineer, and are thinking of perhaps making one of these, you had better do the math properly, something the engineers on a similar project for a Honda commercial spectacularly failed to do. (Analysis of what went wrong on this interesting blog post).
posted by woodblock100 (11 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
And here's a YouTube search result with lots of Melody Road clips. And there was even an AskMe a couple of years back, discussing a similar project in France.
posted by woodblock100 at 5:52 AM on January 6, 2011

What music does the road play when it's raining and my tires lose traction on the grooves and I spin out to my death? Warm Leatherette?
posted by Nelson at 6:03 AM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the post! That Japanese road is neat.

That Honda commercial has always driven me nuts. They obviously intended for it to play the William Tell Overture but they got it so wrong. The worst part is that the original road caused a bunch of noise complaints, so they actually paved it over and rebuilt it somewhere else, but with the same terrible pitch problems! Gah!
posted by av123 at 6:23 AM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Whereas when you run over the rumble strips on American roads, they just play death metal, thrashing away at one loud and perfect chord while screaming "you're going to DIE now!"
posted by spitbull at 6:29 AM on January 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

There's one of those on the way up to Mt. Fuji. It's really annoying.
posted by donkeymon at 6:31 AM on January 6, 2011

Was it a Ray Bradbury story in which they were able to "play" the grooves on an ancient piece of pottery as if every sound had left its own mark? I'll bet they read that story, it's resonated with me for decades.
posted by mareli at 7:00 AM on January 6, 2011

mareli: You might be thinking of "Time Shards" by Gregory Benford, or "Buzz" by Rudy Rucker.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:27 AM on January 6, 2011

The next step is to split the grooves down the centre of the lane and do two tracks. Folks on motorcycles will be somewhat handicapped.

How fast would a car have to be travelling for a D to A conversion rate sufficient to do sampled audio such as speech?
posted by CynicalKnight at 8:18 AM on January 6, 2011

It's just a matter of time until our highways are playing "I wish I were an Oscar Meyer weiner" at us, complementing the obnoxious billboards, with no possibility to avoid it.
posted by CaseyB at 8:33 AM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I wanted to design a road that would play the 1812 Overture, but the DOT kept referring me to the Army Corps of Engineers, and they told me to get in touch with the Field Artillery Branch, and they wouldn't return my calls.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:30 AM on January 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

TheWhiteSkull for a reasonable approximation of artillery you could try massive tire gouging pot holes.
posted by selenized at 10:56 PM on January 6, 2011

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