Musical Roads – Where Cars Make Music on the Road!

Musical roads, also called musical highways, singing roads, rhythmic roadways, melody roads and even humming highways, do more than just make music when cars drive over them. These cool musical roads are where cars can get their groove on when driving on these musical roads, there’s a secret to getting to hear the musical tunes! 

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Musical Roads

Where Car Tires “Sing” as You Drive on Them!

UPDATED March 7, 2024

Road Rumble Strips
Photo courtesy of Curbed

Musical roads aren’t a new thing in the U.S. and even across the globe. These musical singing roads have been around for a few decades.

In fact, there’s three right here in the United States. But, America isn’t the only country that has roads that make music when you drive on them. Globally, there’s about 10 other countries that have musical roads.

How do they make Musical Highways?

It takes a lot of engineering know-how to construct a road that ‘makes music’ when you drive on them.

Now, no matter what kind of driver you are, you’ve no doubt experienced driving over those rumble strips on the sides of the roads and highways.

Those rumble strips, also called wake up bumps, are patches of short grooved patches impressed into the roadway surface. Or, they may be specially spaced small Botts dots or road turtles.

Their purpose is to keep drivers from crossing the yellow line or going off the side of the roadways by alerting them through tire vibration noise.

But also, musical highways have another intent. Those pavement grooves or rumble strips are installed on road surfaces to help reduce skidding or hydroplaning on wet road surfaces.

Often you may encounter these grooved sections on roads that have a history of many wet weather crashes or high collision ratings.

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How musical roads make sound?

Musical Roads - California
Photo courtesy of Acoustics2015Spring

Road engineers apply more math and engineering ingenuity to create musical roads. The pavement grooves on musical roads are designed and spaced just a bit differently than regular rumble strips.

Each musical note is produced by varying the spacing of rumble strips on the road. For example, an E note requires a frequency of around 330 vibrations a second.

I know that sounds like a whole bunch of rocket surgery. But, NatGeo explains how they make musical roads so much better than I could in this video below:

Where are the musical roads in the U.S.?

Lancaster, California

Musical Road Location:  3187 W Ave G, Lancaster, CA 93536

Musical Roads - Lancaster California
Photo Courtesy of Global Film Locations

America’s first musical road is in Lancaster, California. According to Destination Lancaster CA, the road tune section is located between 30th and 40th Street West on Avenue G. The musical road was created as part of an advertising stint for Honda.

After word got out (the commercial), the musical road became quite popular. The excitement of such project would draw drivers as far as the state line and even beyond to this location to “drive and play”.

This singing road has unique rumble strips that have grooves spaced methodically to produce a different pitch than other grooves.

Thus, when a motor vehicle drives over the certain stretch of road at 55mph, the tires would produce a musical rendition of the William Tell Overture finale.

However, that stretch of the musical highway was put on silent. Local residents in the area of the stretch of the musical road complained about the influx of traffic and constant noise.

Some Lancaster residents who live nearby filed a petition to muffle the music attraction (or distraction?) and pave over the music-making grooves.

But, it didn’t end there. Other petitioners in favor of the singing road approached the city to relocate the attraction to a more remote area.

And there it remains, just put your car in drive, head out to Avenue G and make your own road tunes where the rubber meets the road.

Auburn University – Auburn, Alabama

Musical Road Location:  South Donahue Drive off exit 51

Auburn University Tim Arnold Engineer

Who would have known that Auburn University in Alabama has their own musical road?!

Also known as War Eagle Road, this stretch of singing rumble strips is located on South Donahue Drive. But, in order to hear the Auburn fight song, drivers need to slow down to 35 miles per hour.

According to Auburn University’s The Newsroom, this road project didn’t come without its’ challenges when constructing War Eagle Road. “It was an undertaking that involved a lot of complex math,” Auburn Engineering alum Tim Arnold admitted.

It took a lot of patience and persistence. But, the end game is to provide the Auburn University students, faculty and alumni their own attraction.

Arnold’s idea was to have the cars make music as it would drive over the bumps. It’s the same idea as that same vibration a guitar string makes when playing a musical note.

The whole engineering behind the musical road project required a lot of math and understanding the science of sound frequency. 

But, Arnold certainly didn’t produce this musical road project solo. First, he had to petition the University and reign in support of Auburn University’s Dean of Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

After approval, he put together an amazing team of faculty and fellow students to, quite literally, ‘make music’ on the road.  

It took several with backgrounds in engineering specialties in chemical, mechanical, polymers and even aerospace.

Now that Auburn University has its’ own claim to having one of the only musical roads in the United States, Engineer Arnold is working on another on campus. But this musical road that would play “Glory Glory to Ole Auburn” for a section on College Street coming in from Highway 280.

Tijeras, New Mexico

Musical Road Location:  Old Route 66 Eastbound

Tijeras New Mexico - Route 66
Photo courtesy of Pawela’s Garage

Just outside of Tijeras, New Mexico, there’s a stretch of old Route 66 (eastbound) where your car tires can play America the Beautiful.

To hear the patriotic tune, you have to drive 45 miles per hour. The 1300 foot long musical highway was created collaboratively by the New Mexico Department of Transportation and National Geographic in 2014. 

Palmdale, California 

Musical Road Location:  Eastbound side of R. Lee Army Avenue N in Palmdale

America’s newest musical road recently opened on the Marine Corps’ Birthday on November 10, 2023 in Antelope Valley’s Palmdale, California!

What better way to honor one of our most highly decorated Marines and notable actor, R. Lee “Gunny” Ermey, than to construct a musical road that sings the Marine Corps Hymn as motorists drive over it!

Gunnery Sergeant Ermey honorably served in the United States Marine Corps from 1961 through 1972. But to nonmilitary types, “Gunny” was most noted for portraying the Gunnery Sergeant in the movie Full Metal Jacket.

However, like most Marines, when he left the Marine Corps, the Marine Corps didn’t leave him.  Throughout his life he continued to support our Country and his beloved Marines at events and making movie and television appearances.

The 2,500-foot-long musical road is located on the eastbound side of R. Lee Ermey Ave. (Ave. N) between Amargosa Wash and Division St. The road plays 30 seconds of the Marine Corps Hymn as cars drive over the grooved pavement at 45 mph.

Can’t get to Palmdale’s musical road, listen to Donald Hoperich video:

 

Musical Roads coming to America’s Historic Route 66!

Historic Route 66 at Sunset

Get ready for good vibrations in 2026! It’s road trip time! As part of the historic Route 66 100th Anniversary, drivers will be serenaded along America’s most notable road! 

Overseen by Congress, the U.S. Route 66 Centennial Commission are having musical road design experts submit plans to rollout music making roads across all eight states of U.S. In order driving east to west, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and ending in California.

Currently (2024) the Route 66 Musical Roads LLC are working in conjunction with the American Society of Civil Engineers to install at least one musical road in each of the states along Route 66.

Musical Roads Beyond the U.S.

Musical roads aren’t just in the United States. In fact, there are several other countries that also have their own stretches of music highways.

Do you know which country actually has 30 musical roads? Let’s find out!

The Dutch Singing Road in the Netherlands

The Netherlands Singing Road
Photo Courtesy of Credit: YouTube: Persbureau Noord Nederland

The Netherlands’ first and only singing road was installed in Frieslland near the village of Jelsum. You had to drive at 60mph to hear the Provincial Anthem. 

However, it didn’t take long for the Dutch singing road to be removed in 2018. Area residents quickly grew tired and complained of the musical tune.

They responded quite vocally that the constant noise was driving them bonkers because motorists would drive faster to see if the music sounded differently. 

The Asphaltophone in Denmark

Denmark Asphaltonphone
Photo credit by Drive Europe News

Laying claim to being the first musical road, Denmark’s “Asphaltophone” was created in 1995.

Two Danish artists, Jensen and Freud-Magnus, constructed Braille-like dots in Gylling, Ostjylland that played a short tune lasting on 2 seconds.

Similar to Botts’ dots (mentioned earlier), their asphaltophone has raised pavement markers instead of grooves in the road.

These markers are much like the single square reflectors on roads we see here in the United States.

As a motor vehicle drives over the markers, the vibration from the wheels produce the sound of music; in their case, an arpeggio.

The Singing Road in South Korea

South Korea’s singing road is located just south of Seoul in Anyang. This musical road distraction was actually designed to keep motorists alert and from falling asleep.

Ironically hilarious though, the road engineers designed their musical highway to play the soothing lullaby, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”

Melody Roads in Japan

Japan Melody Road

Out of all the countries in the world, Japan reigns as the king of musical roads! This geographically small country has more than 30 of them throughout the country.

From love songs, ballads and even local folk tunes, they are very much a part of their roadway system. The locals call their musical highways “melody roads”.

Japan’s melody roads have colorful musical notes on the pavement to alert drivers before entering the roadside attraction. This allows drivers to prepare to enjoy their 30 seconds of musical entertainment.

One of the most popular musical roads in Japan is on the way up to the famous Mount Fuji; playing “Fuji no Yama”, a traditional song about the mountain.

Some of Japan’s other melody roads are located in Hokkaido, Shizuoka, Gunma and Wakayama regions of the island country.

What’s cool is the road engineers have upped the ante in creating more higher-tech musical highway tunes. They installed different rumble strips on both, the left and right side.

Thus, when driving over them, the tires can create a polyphonic soundtrack. How cool is that?

 

Wrapping up

Route 66 New Mexico Musical Road
Photo courtesy of Amazing Zone

Now, after learning about these musical roads, doesn’t it make you want to hop in your car and go on a road trip to drive on them.

Even better, wouldn’t it be cool if there was a worldwide passport where you can get a cancellation stamp of every singing road you drive over?

So, next time you’re anywhere near these incredible engineering marvels, drive on over to make your own road tunes!

Planning your trip to find the musical roads!

Let’s get planning your RV road trip to experience America’s musical highways with less stress and more fun!

Anytime we plan our RV destinations, we start our research using RV LIFE Trip Wizard. RV Trip Wizard gets you to your camping destinations utilizing RV-friendly routes specific to your RV and travel preferences. You can try it FREE for 7-Days!

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3 Replies to “Musical Roads – Where Cars Make Music on the Road!”

  1. hey Dan and Lisa, wanted to give you the heads up about a new musical road located in the City of Palmdale CA, AVE “N” or R. Lee Emery road.
    it plays the Marine Hymn song. Might want to make a road trip to experience it. Having the military background I think you all will enjoy it.

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