Friday, March 28, 2014

The Musical New York Metro Map


MTA.me Conductor has turned Massimo Vignelli's 1972 New York subway map into a real-time string instrument. The map visualizes in real-time trains moving on the MTA subway network and plays a note every time a subway train crosses the track of another train.

Every minute the application checks for new trains launched from their end stations. The trains are then animated along the subway line with their speed set by the MTA schedule. When one train crosses the track of another train a single note is played.

Fire-up the map and you can just sit back and listen to a New York subway symphony being composed and played in real-time. You can even join in the composition by plucking the strings of the trains of the New York subway.


If the New York subway can be a stringed instrument I see no reason why the map of Ohio can't be a piano. Ohio has 88 counties, a piano has 88 keys, so obviously Ohio is a Piano!

Well, it is on this amazing Google Map. Cartogrammar has mapped each county of Ohio to a particular piano key depending on various data attributes. This means that you can play Ohio on this Google Map just as you would play a piano, except here you press the counties rather than tinkle the ivories.

The map has 'The Entertainer' already programmed in, so if you never learnt to play the Ohiophone you can just press play and sit back and listen. Alternatively, if you have always wondered what Google Driving Directions would sound like if each county you passed through played a different note (and come on who hasn't always wondered that), you can select a route from any county to any other county and listen to the route being played live.


If the New York subway can be a stringed instrument and Ohio can be a piano then Aberdeen can be an orchestra! Marker / Music lets you mix your own music by clicking on different locations and playing the music recorded there. You can combine any of the recordings to create your own unique mix directly from the map.

Darren Solomon and the students and faculty of Northern State University shot over 70 videos of instruments being played around the town of Aberdeen. Twelve of the videos have been added to this Google Map. If you open up the videos you can play and mix the sounds being played in each video. You can even adjust the volume of each video / instrument.

You might expect that the result of opening different videos and mixing different instruments would be a cacophony of sound but I've played with this for a while and each & every mix resulted in a serene and mellow musical composition.


If the New York subway is a stringed instrument, Ohio is a piano and Aberdeen an orchestra then Google Maps can be a record.

Rock Around the World is a Google Map shaped to look like a record. Click on the map and the record spins around and plays Rock Around the Clock. Once you take your mouse off the map the record slows its spin and comes to a stop and the song slows and grinds to a halt.
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