If you’re the type who enjoys strolling through Central Park as a quiet retreat from the bustling hubbub of New York City, while your earbuds are shoved firmly into your ears to block out the bucolic sounds of nature, you’ll probably be really into an app that provides a special location-based soundtrack for New York’s most famous park. Electronic duo Bluebrain, made up of brothers Ryan and Hays Holladay, have created what they call a "location-aware album," filled with tunes that swell and explode in your ears as you wander through the park.
The free app, called Central Park (Listen to the Light), was released for iPhones and iPads in October. The musicians collaborated with Brian Feldman, a software designer living in Brooklyn, to tie over 400 music tracks to specific locations within the park. This is the second effort from Bluebrain and Feldman; they previously released a similar "album" centered on the National Mall in the Holladays’ hometown of Washington, DC. Using a new software called Sscape, the apps take inspiration "from video games that have different sound effects and background music tied to places in their virtual worlds."
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. Strolling across Sheep Meadow you hear a pastoral piano theme with a bubbling undercurrent of electronic arpeggios.
The themes layer over one another, growing in volume as you approach certain points on the map and fading out as you move away. It’s a musical Venn diagram placed over the landscape, and at any time you might have two dozen tracks playing in your ears, all meshing and colliding in surprising ways.
Sounds pretty trippy, dudes. You can learn more about the app here, and check out the trailer featuring some of the themes below.