Driving Music Reinvented
The original Golf GTI was an innovation project created for the sheer joy of driving.
The resulting car invented the ‘Hot Hatch’ category and a captivating driving experience. We needed an idea that reinvented the driving experience for now.
Driving and music are inextricably linked in all our minds, but we wanted a unique take on that relationship. The premise was simple – create an application that creates music as you drive. We collaborated with Underworld – musicians with a rich heritage in both artistic and technological experimentation – and with Sound Designer Nick Ryan and Reactive Music Producer Yuli Levtov.
What we created was an innovative app that converts how and where you drive into live music. The app gets speed and RPM data from the GTI’s on-board computer.
The steering, acceleration and location data is calculated from a combination of the accelerometer, gyroscope and GPS receiver within the iPhone. All of this data is collected, filtered, smoothed and run through the musical programming language PD (Pure Data) to generate the live music. The result is you create unique music with your drive in real time. Driving music reinvented.
Before Underworld could compose appropriate music we gathered as much information about the GTI driving experience as possible. Using the accelerometer and gyroscope in the iPhone we captured data recordings of the car performing maneuvers. When we cross-referenced the driving data with the driving footage we could see and attribute data patterns to car behaviors. We continued to catalogue various car maneuvers until we had digitized the GTI driving experience.
With the help of Nick Ryan, Underworld began to compose music based on the GTIs driving experience and data capture. The challenge was to create a musical soundscape rather than a set linear composition. The music would have to sound good no matter how a driver played it. The infinite variable outcomes in the music required hours more music than a traditional composition would. Using PD the music and data were brought together. Different musical stems were linked to different data streams, so the cars movements or location would trigger and affect the live music. The car became an instrument, the driver the musician.
The only way to refine the composition was to drive it, over and over.
The GTI became an office for the whole team as they spent days on end tightening both the composition and the way the PD reacted to the data, until they finished the responsive composition.