London Traffic Remixed

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A visualization of the traffic pattern in front of the London Parliament.

Can the city become a symphony? That's what London-based sound designer Mark McKeague asks. After learning that electric cars have engine noise added for safety reasons — otherwise they would be dangerously silent — the 23-year-old gave them a different tune.

McKeague created electronic soundscapes from the pattern of traffic in London intersections. The sequences and speeds of the cars, and their interactions with each other, determine the pitch. He says his music can tell us about traffic, society, the social consequences of technology, and the musicality of the noises that surround us.

The sound designer took information from a traffic simulator and translated it into electronic music by relying on the sensors within automobiles. "The cars are reacting to each other based on the distance from each other and the speeds they're moving at, so instead of the sound being the sound of an engine, now it's the sound of a traffic jam or slow traffic," McKeague says.