Many a mobile app is designed to open your wallet, but brothers Ryan and Hays Holladay are more interested in opening your ears.
Recording as Bluebrain, the Washington, D.C.-based duo has just released “Central Park (Listen to the Light),” a “location-aware” album designed to be listened to as you stroll through Central Park.
As with their previous project based on the National Mall, users can download the app for free from the iTunes store and then use their GPS-enabled smartphones to experience the familiar space in an entirely new way, accompanied by an ever-shifting soundtrack that flows and intersects with itself as you cross through hundreds of overlapping zones that blanket the city’s verdant heart.
amNewYork spoke with the brothers about the project.
Most GPS-centric apps are driven by commerce or social media. What got you thinking about using one for music? Hays: We were interested in the idea of composing music that could be mapped to a physical terrain and that would shift as you moved around the landscape. We were interested in using the format of the app to create a work itself.
What is your music composition process like? Ryan: We always start by sketching ideas out on piano. Each piece has dozens of different arrangements that unfold as you move through an area, so starting with a solid melodic foundation is really important. Then, once the pieces start to take shape, we use Google Earth to find specific coordinates for each sound.
How many areas does “Light” contain? Ryan: There are hundreds. Certain sounds assigned to specific landmarks are only a few feet in diameter, while the others evolve over a hundred feet.
Hays: We certainly spent a ton of time getting to know the park in detail. It was fun walking around and figuring out how melodies would unfold if you went one way [or] another.
What are your favorite spots? Hays: Bow Bridge. As you approach the bridge, the piece you’re hearing morphs into a lush string arrangement.
Ryan: The Central Park Zoo was really fun. We created bizarre-sounding, nonexistent animal noises in the different habitats of the different animals, so as you’re walking around the zoo, you’re hearing sounds from animals that you’d never hear in real life.
More info: For more information, go to bluebra.in and check out the trailer for “Central Park (listen to the Light)” on vimeo.com