iA


Conductor in progress video


This is a new piece I started this weekend. Tentatively titled Conductor, it recreates the New York subway system as a musical instrument. It’s currently built in HTML5 + Javascript. SVG was very useful, as I could create the design in Illustrator, then import the coordinates into Javascript.

These videos are still in-progress tests. I plan to import an actual subway schedule from the MTA’s subway API and have subway trains triggering the performance. After that, I hope to start on an iPad version that would function more as a user-driven instrument.

I decided to use Vignelli’s beautiful 1972 subway map as a starting point for the design. Which will be interesting because a few lines like the 8 and 9 no longer exist.

Update: New video posted with moving trains.
Update: Posted with completed piece here.

16 comments on ‘Conductor in progress video’

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Digital Adman and others. Digital Adman said: Underground music… RT @Sergethew: HTML5 experiment turns NYC subway system into a musical instrument – (video) http://bit.ly/ezAX0l [...]

  2. Pedro says:

    Very interesting concept. Love the mapping of the strings in action.

  3. DJ Hombre says:

    Looks gorgeous, would definitely be interested in an iPad version of this.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. flask says:

    ipad version i’m not so toasty with, but a cute little online version or something downloadable to my desktop would be AWESOME!

    AWESOME, do you hear me?

  5. [...] and some HTML 5 and Javascript coding to create a musical work out of the subway map. Says Chen on his blog: Tentatively titled Conductor, it recreates the New York subway system as a musical instrument. [...]

  6. dkrl says:

    How did you choose your pitches and note durations?

    I think it would be good to begin it with a static bass line and expand with doubling and a quickening of the pitches and come to a screahing halt.

    Just an idea.

    :)

  7. Samuel Wong says:

    It will be interesting idea to start at either 12 Midnight or 5 am and start the API with trains from their respective terminals. Then, run it for maybe 12 or 24 hours. It will be a lot of data, but the station times exist and you just need to know the intersections.

    Keep up the good work.

  8. Jer Thorp says:

    This is brilliant. Very, very nice work. Would love to see this as an interactive version with a timescale slider.

  9. Very nice.

    How did you get the sound to work? Did you use one sound file and replay it with varying pitch, or are you using several sound files?

    Now I have the urge to try making this in Flash. ;)

  10. Really imaginative use of the subway map, can’t wait to see the full interactive version.

    Ian

  11. David says:

    nice. i can’t recognize this as actually part of the NYC subway system. would be better if it’s more recognizable. beautiful concept though.

  12. Alexander, I am a CS prof who teaches web technologies. Your HTML5 and JS code would make an excellent teaching example, so I am writing to ask if you would please please share your code with my students and me. I promise not to use it for anything but learning. Would you be willing to do this, please?

    Thank you,
    Jesse

  13. [...] stumbled upon in researching interesting things going on in the world of design and technology is Conductor, by Alexander Chen. This work-in-progress is a program/app/piece that visualizes and audio-izes the [...]

  14. [...] Alexan­der Chen is work­ing on a project turn­ing those train route maps you see all around the world into a musi­ca…. [...]

  15. [...] cidades, por usar dados de uma forma um pouco mais complexa. Um aplicativo chamado provisoriamente Conductor, inventado por Alexander Chen. Com acesso aos itinerários do metrô de Nova York, Alexander quer [...]

  16. [...] cidades, por usar dados de uma forma um pouco mais complexa. Um aplicativo chamado provisoriamente Conductor, inventado por Alexander Chen. Com acesso aos itinerários do metrô de Nova York, Alexander quer [...]

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