One day, I noticed that it should be interesting if railroad timetables were converted into music. Therefore, I made a sample by way of experiment. I used the timetable of JR Shinjuku Station because it has 14 tracks and handles about 1.5 million passengers a day. I found it had musical developments. For example, when the music met rush hours, music got aggressive too. So I decided to make music of all 29 stations on the Yamanote Line.
I converted timetables into music as follows. I treated one minute of a timetable as a sixteenth note, and notes were played at departures of trains.
The pitch of the notes were calculated based on the following expression.
("line ID" × "hour" ＋ "minute") mod "number of tones"
The "line ID" in this expression means which line I used. For example, the line ID of Saikyo Line at Shinjuku Station bound for Omiya is 1. I used timetables on the web site of East Japan Railway Company as of March 23, 2008.
Although some music are dedicated to specific musicians, do not take them seriously, just take them as respects. And most of them (except Ueno Station etc) do not relate to the places of the stations, too. I added intros or outros to some music for musical sake, but I changed neither those pitch nor those timing. They are combined with timetables.
01 Shinagawa Station - for Two Woodwinds
The left woodwinds play in C major, the right woodwinds play in Ab minor. They play tenute once every three times, and perform staccatos strongly as the remainder.
02 Osaki Station - for Daihachi Oguchi
Six taikos play as kumi-daiko. Uses the power of hits as tone series, not those pitches.
03 Gotanda Station - for Philip Glass
Performs a minimal phrase of 7/16 throughout the whole music. The sounds are not performed at the departures of trains. When a train pulls out, the note is selected from the phrase by calculating above expression.
04 Meguro Station - for Dr.Moog and Yaoya-san
Two moog-like bass synthesizers are played on a TR-808-like drum machine. In this music, Yaoya-san means TR-808.
05 Ebisu Station - for the Third Man
Every stations on the Yamanote Line has its departure melody. It is the theme of "The Third Man" for Ebisu Station. This music repeats seven notes at the beginning of that theme. Each pair of the lines is played in its own octave.
06 Shibuya Station - for Les Paul
Six lines on the Shibuya Station are linked to six strings of a guitar. And the pentatonic scale is performed.
07 Harajuku Station - for Terry Riley
Phrases of four demisemiquavers are performed on the in-C like pulse.
08 Yoyogi Station - for Karlheinz Stockhausen
Like "Helicopter String Quartet", the quartet is placed opposite order. Phrases go up in the beginning, keep those pitch in the middle stage, and go down in the end.
09 Shinjuku Station - for Auguste Mustel
Uses the chromatic scale as a tone series. Each of 13 lines performs the celesta sound. The faster train departures, the higher octave is used by its note. Auguste Mustel is the inventor of celesta.
10 Shin-Okubo Station - for Steve Reich
Multiple percussions are used as a tone series. And notes are phased, changing the width of the gap according to the time of the timetable.
11 Takadanobaba Station - for the Robot Boy
Repeats a same phrase throughout the whole music, like the Gotanda Station. But in this case, notes are not selected. The phrase change its tempo at the departures of trains.
12 Mejiro Station - for Ivan Wyschnegradsky
A performance by a quarter tone piano with its sustain pedal pressed throughout music.
13 Ikebukuro Station - for Qu Yuan
Gagaku - the Japanese classical music - traces its roots to China. This music uses ritsu scale as a tone series. Fast trains are converted to high tones or water sounds.
14 Otsuka Station - for Robert Fripp
A Robert Fripp style minimal phrase gets whole tone higher and higher, according to the time of the timetable. The notes are shifted at the departures of trains.
15 Sugamo Station - for Yatsuhashi Kengyo
The koto is a harp of Japan and Yatsuhashi Kengyo is the most famous musician of koto. Two lines are mixed into one koto sound. And if departure times are same, the glissando or bending is used.
16 Komagome Station - for Morton Feldman
The sounds are not performed according to the timetable, but are stored. And they are released every 30 minutes of the timetable. If the timings of notes are same, those octaves are shifted.
17 Tabata Station - for a Young Person
Instruments are played in the same order of Britten's "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra". So all Instruments play together after the whip.
18 Nishi-Nippori Station - for Louis Andriessen
A string quartet using open strings only.
19 Nippori Station - for Igor Stravinsky
Young girls are dancing.
20 Uguisudani Station - for Uguisu and Uguisu-Jo
Music made by sampling sounds of Uguisu (Japanese Bushwarbler) and Uguisu-Jo (women announcers in Japanese).
21 Ueno Station - for Animals
The Ueno Zoo might be the most famous zoo in Japan. 48 animal voices are used as a tone series. All notes except intro and outro are results of the calculation.
22 Okachimachi Station - for Fredrik Thordendal
Uses Meshuggah-style additive rhythm (four 13s and 12) with down tuned guitars.
23 Akihabara Station - for Modern Visual Culture
This is so-called chiptune with its bass phrase referring some anime songs. And words that otaku girls seems to say are added. Uses Magical 8bit Plug; a VST instrument developed by YMCK.
24 Kanda Station - for Krzysztof Penderecki
Uses tone clusters as a tone series. The clusters move semitone up and down at the departures of trains.
25 Tokyo Station - for Gyorgy Ligeti
Metronome sounds are played at the departures of trains. To avoid overlaps, all sounds are shifted by line ID × 256th note.
26 Yurakucho Station - for Walter Spies
A Kechak-style music.
27 Shimbashi Station - for Gerard Grisey
Uses overtones of E, from the first one (165Hz) to the 29th one (4,785Hz). The notes are selected according to the timetable, and performed in order.
28 Hamamatsucho Station - for John Cage
Performs rests at the timing of departures.
29 Tamachi Station - for Olivier Messiaen
Its instruments are same as "Quartet for the End of Time", and its tone serieses are same as "Modes of Limited Transposition".
Blank track. There is no philosophical meaning. :-)
31 Wakkanai Station - for Johann Sebastian Bach (bonus)
Wakkanai Station is the northmost railway station in Japan. Because it has only eight train departures, BACH motif is repeated twice.