Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Singing Highway

There used to be a stretch of road near my house that was haunted - at least that's what I would tell my passengers as I drove along it. As we approached a certain intersection, a creepy moan would fill the passenger compartment. It scared the daylights out of a few people, especially when I took them for rides at night while telling tales about ghostly hitchikers.

The bit about ghosts, of course, was made up, but the moaning road was real. The road had become rippled with age, which made the tires play a haunting tone. It worked the same way that a record needle (remember LPs) plays sounds as it rides over the bumps in the recording tracks.

I often wondered why nobody ever bothered to take advantage of the effect by making roads that played sounds on purpose (perhaps as a type of advertising, or to alert drivers to speed limits and such).

Well, someone HAS done it in Japan. They have a whole stretch of singing highway, clearly marked with musical notations to let you know you haven't lost your mind. Play the YouTube video below to find out what the singing road sounds like. I don't read Japanese, but the subtitles suggest that the the road is playing a well-known Japanese song.


  1. I actually saw something a few nights ago on late nite news, about a Korean highway - same thing. It played "Mary Had a Little Lamb", and it was designed to keep people alert on this dangerous stretch of road. U.S. I-40 has these cuts or strips cut into the side of the road that help keep sleepdrivers from drifting off , i sometimes veer to the edge to hear the tone and feel the rumble , and i always knew this could be done - getting different notes by cutting different depth , length , and spacing. I imagine that changing the shape of the cuts could also yield possibly vocal like sounds too, wouldn't THAT be neat? Hearing the road speak through your tires "Reduce speed ahead" or something like? SCARY! LOL!

  2. there is one in Lancaster ca on ave k between 60 west and 70 th west westbound really cool