Shizuo Shinoda is a Japanese engineer who was digging using a bulldozer and scraped some marking on the road accidentally with the bulldozer’s claw. When he drove over those markings, the vibrations created caused a tune to be played. Back in 2007, a team comprised of engineers from the Hokkaido Industrial Research Institute improved on Shinoda’s designs and created a series of ‘melody roads’ in Japan.
The melody roads feature grooves cut at predetermined intervals along the road’s surface. Based upon how for the grooves are located and how deep they are; a vehicle moving over them will cause a set of high or low notes to be played. This helped the engineers to create a tune that is unique. The closer the grooves are, the higher the pitch of the sound becomes. The crucial component in the mix is the speed of the vehicle.
In total, Japan has four melody roads in Japan. One each in Wakayama, Hokkaido, Gunma, and Shizuoka. All of these melody roads play unique tunes. The roads vary in length between 175 to 250 meters and have been carved with thousands of grooves. Apart from street signs, the roads feature colored musical notes that have been painted on the surface of the road. This is done so that the motorists are alerted of the musical interlude that is coming their way. The grooves are made on the side of the road closer to the curb and not in the middle. This gives the drivers a choice to either drive over them or to avoid them. If you want to hear the tunes, you will have to roll the car windows up and drive at a speed of 28mph with one wheel on the grooves. Driving too fast or too slow will have a similar effect of a tape being fast forwarded or re-winded.
Japan is not the first country to feature melody roads, however. The first of the melody roads was created in Gylling, Denmark by two Danish artists, Jakob Freud-Magnus and Steen Krarup Jensen in October 1995. It is called Asphaltophone and has been crafted using a set of raised pavement markers that have been spaced at sporadic intervals so that once the drivers drive over them; the vibrations caused can be heard inside the car. Another one of the melody roads is located in South Korea and is called Singing Road. It was created to keep the drivers alert and to prevent them from falling asleep.
America had its first melody road constructed in 2008. It is named the Civic Musical Road and is about a quarter mile in length. Another one of the melody roads is located close to the village of Tijeras, in New Mexico. If you drive over it at 45 mph, you can hear the song ‘America the Beautiful.’ Have you driven over any of the melody roads? Do share your experience with us!