' that are spaced to produce a tune?! Help me find more specific information on the 'Musical Highway' in Villepinte, France!
Ok, this is sort of an epic 'more inside,' but bear with me, I'm hoping there's some avenue of research I'm not thinking of.
I was first introduced to this concept when Paul Collins mentioned it briefly in a recent Believer piece ("A Brief History of Rock Music
"). Here's what Collins had to say:
"Engineers in the Paris suburb of Villepinte make clever use of road noise between tires and crushed rock asphalt by designing a corrugated ?euphonic road? surface that gives a twenty-eight-note melody when driven over. Complaints by neighbors result in the road being resurfaced in 2002. A subsequent visit establishes that one can still faintly hear the melody when the road is driven over."
I was intrigued by this idea, so I've since researched it a bit and found a few other articles mentioning this stretch of road, but it seems to me that an idea as novel (and as recently executed) as this should have left more of a footprint on the internet. I know if were one of the responsible engineers, I'd have taken video. I'm suspicious that my inability to search in French may be keeping me from the best results.
(Sharke, Mechanical Engineering Magazine, April 2003 -- This one has the most specific info.)
Article 2 (Glaskin, "New Scientist" article, February 2004 -- This one isn't available online, but I'll quote the relevant sections)
"Once upon a time there was a singing road. Every time a vehicle drove along it, the road sang a catchy tune, in stereo, that left drivers humming happily for days. But not everyone loved its song, and the people who lived nearby began to get irritated with the road for singing the same thing, all day, every day. Eventually they got so angry that they complained to the mayor, who issued an order to smother the road beneath a layer of hot asphalt. The road never sang again."
"This story is not completely true. It turns out that the road -- built in 2000 in a Paris suburb called Villepinte -- was not totally silenced when it was resurfaced in 2002. Visit Villepinte today and, if you listen carefully, you can sometimes hear the faint 28-note melody created by tyres racing over the pattern of corrugations on its surface."
"The musical highway was a bold attempt to turn the noise produced by a busy road into something pleasurable. Unfortunately, it only served to highlight a
growing problem. While vehicle designers have worked hard to quieten engines and muffle exhausts, they have been less successful elsewhere. The whoosh, swish and zizz of rubber on asphalt or concrete now accounts for more than half the noise that vehicles create, and as road building and car sales continue to boom -- particularly in Asia and the US -- noise created at the road surface is turning into a global problem. So the next great challenge for automotive engineers is to learn how tyre and tarmac can be made to work together to keep the peace."
"...we may not have heard the last of the singing road. A few years ago, a large US entertainment corporation asked one of Sandberg's American colleagues to create a corrugated road surface at the entrance to one of its theme parks -- one that could play "zip-a-dee-do-dah" as cars drove over it. He declined. Perhaps he had learned the lesson from Villepinte: the only thing we will ever want to hear from a highway is the sound of silence."
Everything in the Collins article seems to come from these two pieces, and knowing his research prowess, that probably doesn't bode well for finding out more. Will that stop me? ONWARD!
The endgame of all this ridiculous groping for information is to find video and / or audio of the road in action. That would just make my YEAR.
Thus far, the only non-textual evidence I've found of the road's existence is this photo
, published alongside the Paul Sharke article in Mechanical Engineering Magazine.
The caption explains that "Drivers approaching the musical road near Paris are instructed to stay between solid lines to hear their tires play a melody. The tone deaf can follow a dotted route to play only road and tire noise."
DEAD END, ALMOST DEAD END
The Paul Sharke article also cites the composer of the music 'pressed' into the road as a person named Gaellic Guillerm. A brief googling reveals no other results.
The one prospect I haven't pursued to a dead end yet is chapter 31.8 of this book, "The Tyre/Road Noise Reference Book
). Since the cost of the book is $220 I can't justify the expense just to see if a single chapter clears up this trivial curiousity. I've tried searching libraries, but no luck around these parts.
...and that's everything my feeble research efforts have thus far been able to uncover.
If everything in these articles is assumed to be accurate, here is what I know so far:
- Dedicated in 2000
- The tune was composed by Gaellic Guillerm
- It consisted of 12 seconds of stereophonic (!) music
- The piece had a 28-note melody.
- The road was resurfaced in 2002.
- Subsequent visits to the site claim the tune is still faintly audible
That's it. Hope me?