Bicycle built for...opera?

Sure it’s fun (essential?) to listen to music when you work out at the gym or head out on a run, but if you’re like most Americans, you’re probably curating your own playlist.  And heck, who are we to criticize—you’re exercising AND experiencing someone’s creative expression—that’s great! (*fist bump*)

BUT, just imagine what would happen if you could ride a bike through your neighborhood and—thanks to a collaboration between a sound artist, some writers, programmers, poets, engineers, and community members—hear a piece that was customized to your specific GPS coordinates? 

Houston, you're in luck.

Kaffe Matthews, an artist based in London, did just that for a suburb of Houston. She immersed herself in the local environment and created a “bicycle opera” which allows riders on customized “sonic bikes” to experience their community through music and stories, and “create their own composition by speeding up, slowing down, completely stopping, turning in circles or pausing to listen to sounds that aren’t evident when they're whooshing down the path.” 

Are the music and accompanying narrative all sunshine and daisies? No. But then again, most neighborhood stories aren’t, and that’s what makes it all the more meaningful. 

Learn more about the project and its many collaborators at Houston Press and nerd out about the tech behind the bikes by digging into the bicrophonic research that makes it all possible.