Musical Roads

Ransom Riggs

Now I've heard everything: if you're a driver so musically deprived that you have neither a radio, CD player or iPod hookup in your car, there's still one more way to get yourself humming -- by driving on a so-called "musical road." There are only a half-dozen or so in the world -- one just over an hour from me, in Lancaster, California -- and they work via a series of raised pavement markers, spaced and grooved such that, when driven over at an optimal speed (usually around 50mph), the grooves' specially-calibrated vibrations "sing." Here's how the one in Lancaster -- tuned to the "William Tell Overture" -- sounds.

Sponsored by Honda, the Lancaster road is also known as the "Civic" road. Here's the commercial they made:

The idea was first hatched by two Danish artists, who created the very first "asphaltaphone" in the town of Gilling, Denmark. (The melody it plays isn't too impressive, though.) Here's a Danish news report featuring the road and its creators (in Danish, naturally). Skip to about 90 seconds to see the road in action.

There are several musical roads in Japan, including one that plays "Memories of Summer."