New location-aware app soundtracks Central Park

Central Park-inspired app soundtracks walks - but only around the park itself.

09.12.11

Words by: Charlie Jones

A new iPhone app from Washington musicians Bluebrains follows listeners through New York City’s Central Park and responds with different musical themes, The New York Times reports. The app was released in October and features a global positioning network which activates one of over 400 themes as users pass through different areas of the park.

“The music does not begin until you pass through an entrance and head into the trees. Then it sounds like an orchestra tuning up, a chaotic jumble of wind chimes, electronic moans and discordant strings. Push farther into the park, and a sweet violin melody emerges over languid piano chords. As you walk, new musical themes hit you every 20 or 30 steps, as if they were emanating from statues, playgrounds, open spaces and landmarks. At the Bethesda Fountain a string quartet plays a hopeful march. The Kerbs Boathouse, with its tranquil pond full of model sailboats, triggers a soothing Pachelbel-like motif with a descending bass.”

Other musicians have experimented with smartphone technologies recently – Bjork’s latest album “Biophilia” was made into an audio-visual game for the iPhone, allowing the listener/user to cut up, rearrange and remix her music. The Bluebrain app, however, is the first time an app has been inspired by a specific environment where you also need to be in order to listen to it.