Making GIS music from yesterday’s run

Runner in full stride on the beach

I was looking for GIS music for my podcast intro. Long story short, I didn’t find any, but I did figure out how to make it!

GIS Music: That Hill

This is a hill that I like to attain Strava local legend status on. I ran it yesterday, so it was fresh in my feed when I started this project. The pitch is the longitude, the note duration is the latitude. In this short piece, you can hear that it is an out and back, and that it starts with a corner.

How I made this GIS Music

I used Strava GPX data, but you could really use any other tabular latitude and longitude data for this. For extra fun, I also made a second track using the elevation column…. but the music wasn’t as nice.

Step 1: Get your coordinates (and trim them, if they’re really long)

  1. My path was long, so I wanted to shorten it a bit. I downloaded the GPX file from Strava. I edited to a shorter path for appropriate test scale using GPX Studio.
  2. If you don’t want to edit your route, you can skip to this step: Convert from GPX to CSV. I converted it to CSV using Mygeodata Converter. The track points are the ones you need for the output.

Step 2: Clean up the coordinate data

  1. Open your CSV in Excel (or your favorite spreadsheet software).
  2. Open the track points file. If yours are like mine, you’ll have longitude & latitude in columns A and B. We’ll just use these for now 🙂
  3. In two other columns in your spreadsheet (I used J and K), you’ll make a formula that will create the list of values that the music algorithm site wants.
  4. In the top cell of your columns (J and K in my example), use a formula to set equal to the top values in your latitude adn longitude columns. In my case, J2 is set “=A2”. In the NEXT CELL down, use a formula that points to that first cell, then adds the next cell in your original list. In this case, J3 is set “=J1&”,”&A3″. & concatenates the values and the “,” puts a comma between them. Then cascade this formula to all remaining cells. Repeat for the other column (my column K).
  5. You’ll know this worked if you see a cascade of numbers increasing in size by one in descent from the top.
  6. For the next step, you want only the contents of the last cell in your formula column (the longest list.

Step 3: Make music!

  1. Follow the steps under “How To” on the Music Algorithms website.

Note: I used my longitude string for pitch and the latitude string for duration. Even though it took a couple of tries to figure out how input worked, the result was this short sequence of notes!

Sites I used

Note on privacy

The Musical Algorithms app applies an algorithm (it’s in the name!) to assign notes to your data points. It’s possible to tell that I’m running southeast then northwest… but the actual locations are obscured in the music above.