Musical road

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Tijeras Musical Road
Grooves cut into the street to let the passing car vibrate and produce the melody

A musical road is a road, or section of a road, which when driven over causes a tactile vibration and audible rumbling that can be felt through the wheels within car body. This rumbling is heard within the car as well as the surrounding area, in the form of a musical tune.[1]

Musical roads are known to exist in Denmark, Hungary, Japan, South Korea, the United States, China, Iran,[2] San Marino, Taiwan,[3] the Netherlands, and Indonesia.

By country[edit]



The first known musical road, the Asphaltophone, was created in October 1995 in Gylling, Østjylland, Denmark, by Steen Krarup Jensen and Jakob Freud-Magnus, two Danish artists.[4] The Asphaltophone is made from a series of raised pavement markers, similar to Botts' dots, spaced out at intermittent intervals -- watermark -- so that as a vehicle drives over the markers, the vibrations caused by the wheels can be heard inside the car.[4] The song played is an arpeggio in the key of F Major.


67-es út on Road 67, Hungary

Road 67[edit]

As of 2019, Hungary has its very first musical road in memoriam of the death of Cipő (lead singer from the band Republic). When going on the side of the road, one can hear an approximately 30-second snippet of their well-known song, 67-es út (Road 67).


Singing Road[edit]

On 20 December 2019, along the Ngawi–Kertosono section of the Solo–Kertosono Toll Road in Java, Indonesia, the first-ever Singing Road in Indonesia was built. The song played is the first six notes of "Happy Birthday To You," but the fifth note is off-key by a half-step. It was installed to reduce the number of traffic accidents, and the song was chosen because it is familiar to the community.[5]


Melody Road[edit]

Melody road in Shibetsu, Hokkaido, Japan

In Japan, Shizuo Shinoda accidentally scraped some markings into a road with a bulldozer and drove over them, and realized that it was possible to create tunes depending on the depth and spacing of the grooves.[1] In 2007, the Hokkaido National Industrial Research Institute, which had previously worked on a system using infra-red lights to detect dangerous road surfaces, refined Shinoda's designs to create the Melody Road. They used the same concept of cutting grooves into the concrete at specific intervals and found the closer the grooves are, the higher the pitch of the sound; while grooves which are spaced farther apart create lower pitched sounds.[6]

There are multiple permanently paved 250-meter (820 ft) Melody Roads sections throughout Japan.[7] The first ones built included one in Hokkaido in Shibetsu, Nemuro which plays the "Shiretoko Love Song" on the site of where Shinoda's first bulldozer scrapings were, another in the town of Kimino in Wakayama Prefecture where a car can produce the Japanese ballad "Miagete goran yoru no hoshi wo" by Kyu Sakamoto, one in Shizuoka Prefecture on the ascending drive up Mount Fuji, and a fourth in the village of Katashina in Gunma, which consists of 2,559 grooves cut into a 175-meter (574 ft) stretch of existing roadway and produces the tune of "Memories of Summer".[8] The roads work by creating sequences of variable width groove intervals to create specific low and high frequency vibrations. Some of these roads, such as one in Okinawa that produces the Japanese folk song "Futami Jowa", as well as one in Hiroshima Prefecture, are polyphonic, with different sequences of rumble strips for the left and right tires so that a melody and harmony can be heard.

As of 2016, there are now over 30 Melody Roads in Japan, with 4 in Hokkaido, 3 in Hiroshima, 2 in Shizuoka, 2 in Oita, 2 in Ehime, 11 in Gunma, and 1 each in various other prefectures.


Singing Highway[edit]

A singing road was installed near the village of Jelsum in Friesland. The Friesland provincial anthem (De Alde Friezen) would play if drivers obeyed the speed limits, otherwise the song would play off-key. After complaints from villagers, the singing road was removed.[9]

South Korea[edit]

Singing Road[edit]

The Singing Road can be found close to Anyang, Gyeonggi, South Korea, and was created using grooves cut into the ground, similar to the Japanese Melody Roads. Unlike the Japanese roads, however, which were designed to attract tourists, the Singing Road is intended to help motorists stay alert and awake – 68% of traffic accidents in South Korea are due to inattentive, sleeping or speeding drivers.[10] The tune played is "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and took four days to construct.[10]

As of 2010, there are three Singing Roads in South Korea; the second one, built at an unknown date, plays a traditional folk tune for guests exiting the ski resort Kangwonland. The third is located on the way from Osan to Chinhae and was built at an unknown date as well, and the title of the song it plays is currently unknown.


Music Road[edit]

A 300-meter stretch of asphalt road in Beijing's south-western Fengtai district in the Qianlingshan Mountain Scenic Area has been made into a singing road, and will play the tune "Ode to the Motherland", as long as drivers follow the speed limit of 40 kmh. Construction was done in around 2016.

"We have small grooves built into the road surface, positioned apart with different sizes of gap according to the melody of the song. These 'rumble strips' cause the car tires to play music and then make a singing road," said Lin Zhong, general manager of Beijing Luxin Dacheng landscape architecture company.

"Our first idea is to get cars moving at a constant speed. Because only in that way can you enjoy good musical effect. We use it as a reminder of speed limit," added Lin.[11]

Two other musical roads in China exist: the first at a nature reserve in Henan that plays the national anthem and "Mo Li Hua", and the second near Yangma Dao in Yantai which plays the overture from "Carmen" and "Ode to Joy." One song is paved into each side of the road at both locations so drivers can experience a song both traveling one way and the other way.

United States[edit]

Civic Musical Road[edit]

Video of Civic Musical Road in Lancaster, California in 2013

The Civic Musical Road was built on Avenue K in Lancaster, California, United States, on 5 September 2008.[12] Covering a quarter-mile stretch of road between 60th Street West and 70th Street West, the Musical Road used grooves cut into the asphalt to replicate part of the finale of the William Tell overture. It was paved over on 23 September after nearby residents complained to the city council about noise levels.[13]

After further complaints from city residents about its removal, work began to re-create it on 15 October 2008 on Avenue G between 30th Street West and 40th Street West—this time, two miles away from any residence.[14][15] This road is named after the Honda Civic. It opened two days later.[16] The new section on Avenue G is only in the far left lane of the westbound side of the road.

The road appears in Honda Civic commercials. The rhythm is recognizable, but the intervals are so far off that the melody bears only a slight resemblance to the William Tell overture, regardless of the car speed. It is likely the designers made a systematic miscalculation not to include the width of the groove in the relevant width of the spacing plus groove. This failure was made on both roads, Avenue K and Avenue G.[17][18]

Tijeras, New Mexico[edit]

In October 2014, the village of Tijeras, New Mexico installed a musical road on a two-lane stretch of U.S. Route 66 which plays America the Beautiful, followed by the Nationwide Insurance jingle, when a vehicle drives over it at exactly 45 mph.[19] This highway is labelled NM 333, between Miles 4 and 5, eastbound.[20] Funded by the National Geographic Society, the project was coordinated with the New Mexico Department of Transportation who described the project as a way to get drivers to slow down,[21][22][23] "and to bring a little excitement to an otherwise monotonous highway."[19]

By 2020, however, the tune was fading and most of the ridges were even paved over. A spokesperson for New Mexico's Department of Transportation said, "...there are no plans to restore the musical highway. The cost is outrageous, and they have since restored portions of the roadway and removed all of the signs. Unfortunately, this was part of a previous administration and never set in stone to keep up with the maintenance of this singing highway.”[24][25][26]

War Eagle Road, Alabama[edit]

In October 2019, Tim Arnold, an alumnus of Auburn University’s College of Engineering, created and installed a musical road that plays the first seven notes of the Auburn Tigers fight song, "War Eagle". Inspired by previous musical roads, the short section of South Donahue Drive has been dubbed "War Eagle Road" and was created with a revolutionary process utilizing a surface-application material which does not damage the road.[27]

Working with support from Auburn University and the National Center for Asphalt Technology, Arnold developed the War Eagle Road to be a work of public art welcoming fans and rivals as they approach campus. The project was approved by Office of the University Architect within Facilities Management and completed to coordinate with the final three home games of the Auburn Tigers football season.[28] The musical road has enjoyed a positive public reaction and seems to be welcomed as a permanent fixture.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Johnson, Bobbie (13 November 2007). "Japan's melody roads play music as you drive". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  2. ^ "First musical road built in Iran".
  3. ^ "Taiwan's 'musical road' unveiled". The Taipei Times.
  4. ^ a b Thyrri, Irene (October 1995). The Asphaltophone - road melodies on YouTube, TV 2/Østjylland. Accessed 20 October 2008. (in Danish).
  5. ^ "Singing Road Dipasang di Tol Ngawi Kertosono Kediri". 20 December 2019. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  6. ^ "Your car as a musical instrument - Melody Roads". 29 September 2008. Retrieved 20 October 2008.
  7. ^ Staff writers (13 November 2007). "'Melody Road' fascinates drivers". Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  8. ^ (5 December 2007). Singing Roads - Take a Musical Trip in Japan on YouTube. Accessed 20 October 2008.
  9. ^ Jake Edmiston (11 April 2018). "Netherlands destroys singing highway after villagers complained of 'psychological torture'". National Post. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  10. ^ a b Choo, Joohee; Lee, Rebecca (29 November 2007). "Singing Streets and Melody Roads". ABC News. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  11. ^
  12. ^ (20 September 2008). "Musical Road Hits Sour Notes With Neighbors". Archived from the original on 5 January 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2008.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link), KCBS-TV (CBS). Accessed 3 November 2012.
  13. ^ "US 'musical road' hits bum note". BBC Online. 21 September 2008. Retrieved 22 October 2008.
  14. ^ "Town Scores Encore to 'William Tell' Musical Road". Associated Press. 17 October 2008. Retrieved 3 November 2012.
  15. ^ "Musical Road Relocated, Lancaster Streets will Sing Again". City of Lancaster, California. 23 October 2008. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  16. ^ Hauxwell, Molly (17 October 2008). "Notes ring again as city re-creates musical road". AV Press.
  17. ^ Simmons-Duffin, David (23 December 2008). "Honda Needs a Tune-Up". Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  18. ^ Scott, Tom (16 October 2017). "Why California's Musical Road Sounds Terrible" (Video). YouTube. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  19. ^ a b Nalewicki, Jennifer. "If You Drive The Right Speed, This Musical Highway Will Play You a Song". Smithsonian. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  20. ^ The Singing Road
  21. ^ "New Mexico hopes 'singing road' curbs speeding", Associated Press via Yahoo News (online), 1 October 2014.
  22. ^ "Route 66 Adds Singing Road as Speeding Deterrent", ABC News (TV), 2 October 2014.
  23. ^ "Route 66 ‘singing road’ debuts in New Mexico", KRQE News 13 (TV), 1 October 2014.
  24. ^ "The day the (Route 66) music died". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  25. ^ "Singing Road Almost Silent". ROUTE Magazine. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  26. ^ "Musical Road in Tijeras is fading away, with no plans for restoration". Route 66 News. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  27. ^ "Engineering alumnus brings musical road to Auburn's campus". Auburn University. Auburn University Office of Communications & Marketing. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  28. ^ "Enjoy the War Eagle tune on South Donahue Drive!". The Auburn Plainsman. The Auburn Plainsman. Retrieved 31 October 2019.

External links[edit]