Play the Sounds of the Internet Like a Musical Instrument

May 23, 2014 | Andy Cush

Play the World, a mind-boggling new project by openFrameworks creator Zach Lieberman, turns hundreds of global internet radio stations into a playable musical keyboard. Play a C, for instance, and the software scans the internet in real time for a C that’s happening on the radio somewhere — a singer’s voice in a pop song, say, or a slice of a talk show host’s voice — and plays it back. Play it again, and you’ll hear a completely different C from somewhere else in the world.

The sound of Play the World is as jumbled as you’d expect, but in the demo video above, it’s clear that it works — especially when Liberman begins playing a chromatic scale. The chaos of voices and musical sounds coheres into a recognizable musical form.

Play the World debuts at London’s Barbican Gallery of Art in July.