Having released a music app this summer that sculpts sound based on where the listener is located within the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the app-developing band Bluebrain released a follow-up this month that does the same for Central Park. You can't hear it unless you're there -- but if you are, you can experience approximately 260 musical segments as you stroll around, each of which was written to be experienced in a particular spot.
To be clear, Central Park (Listen to the Light) is a different animal from Soundtracking, Soundtrckr, and other location-based music apps that let users tag places with songs or music stations. Instead, Blue Brain's creations are pieces of music conceived and written from the ground up to change as the listener moves through a specific location.
"What you do in that particular form factor, it's a whole new canvas that paint on," says AOL co-founder Steve Case, somewhat cryptically, in the above video. "But it's a new opportunity with a new technology and a new device to create a new kind of experience that can reach a new kind of audience."
That might be the case, but writing an album to go with a place is much harder than writing an album that sounds the same everywhere.
"The idea wasn't to create an album as an app -- it was to create music for a specific location, and because of the iPhone's built-in GPS capabilities, it was just the best way to realize that idea," explained either Hays or Ryan Holladay, the brothers behind the app (they also perform as The Epochs). "But the process is totally different -- I mean, writing, recording, and plugging it into the app and walking the park and going back and doing it again and again until it's right."
The closest relative to Bluebrain's location-based albums is probably the videogame soundtrack, which alters itself as a character moves through a level. Except in this case, there's no game.
(Note: This app is intended to be used within the boundaries of Central Park in New York City.)
Bluebrain's Central Park (Listen to the Light) is the second in a series of “location-aware” musical compositions designed to be heard at specific sights around the world. Central Park (Listen to the Light) discards the passive listening experience and instead invites listeners to engage with their environment. The music changes and evolves based on the user’s location within Central Park in New York City.
To create the app, Bluebrain and contributing musicians composed a multitude of distinct musical segments, each of which corresponds with a designated geographic zone in the park. As the user traverses these zones, Central Park (Listen to the Light) tracks their location via the iPhone’s built-in GPS capabilities; the melody and rhythm of the music varies in accordance with the user’s path.
Though the sequencing of Central Park (Listen to the Light) changes depending on the user’s route and pace, the individual compositions remain as permanent as tracks on an LP: a user standing twenty feet south of the Alice in Wonderland Sculpture can return to the same spot a week, month or year later to hear the same music.
Bluebrain is the Washington DC-based music duo of brothers Ryan and Hays Holladay. For more information, visit www.bluebra.in
1. Open the app while in the boundaries of Central Park in New York City.
2. Begin walking. The app may take some time to determine your location.
Additionally, we suggest the following to make the experience the best possible:
-Turn ON WiFi. You don't need to connect to a network. Simply having WiFi enabled helps the phone better determine your location.
-Quit all other applications, if possible.
-Visit our FAQ page for more:
**Please note -- While this app is technically compatible with earlier versions of the iPhone, it is optimized for the iPhone 4 and 3GS. We apologize to those who may experience problems with iPhone 3G **
**Continued use of GPS running in the background can dramatically decrease battery life**
Let us know what you think! This is our first version and we want to make future iterations better. Email us with your thoughts -- firstname.lastname@example.org