There are 88 keys on a normal piano. Anyone that enjoys playing or forced into piano lessons can tell you as much. Well someone recently realized there are also 88 counties in Ohio.
So what’s a geek to do with this discovery? Why he created a program that created a piano out of Ohio’s counties!
Now he didn’t just assign a key per county, no, that would be too easy. He assigned keys based on different information that you can choose from, name, population, density, no. of farms, etc.
The result? Well, it often sounds like an out of tune piano when playing music, but interesting none the less. Play around with the “Assign note according to:” and see what you can come up with.
There are many directions one could go from here. I have chosen a few ways to see the geography of music (songs) and hear the music of geography (data, metro areas, or sequences based on Google Maps routing).
In my experience, most of it sounds like crap, apart from the provided simplified bits of actual songs of course, although even those might sound wrong (but hey, blame the sheet music I found). But I would be very interested to hear if anyone discovers any patterns that sound decent.
What’s missing, of course, is the ability to compose your own geographic music, that is, bringing in your own songs, sequencing counties into songs, seeing the data and grouping it in different ways, making your own chords and routes, and so on. That and controlling the music from the piano as well as the map. Compositionally, for now you’re stuck with just moving the mouse over the map, but perhaps you can imagine how this concept could be turned into a full-fledged crazy musical cartography application.