Laura Bliss is a staff writer at CityLab, covering transportation, infrastructure, and the environment. She also authors MapLab, a biweekly newsletter about maps that reveal and shape urban spaces (subscribe here). Her work has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Los Angeles, GOOD, L.A. Review of Books, and beyond.
Street Music Map presents a lively mosaic of the world's finest buskers.
Some of the most memorable items to come out of digital cartography in the last several years have been sound maps, which chart the sonic landscape of a place. I think, in particular, of last summer's dreamy Sounds of Street View, where web explorers could experience the diffuse chatter, music, and rushing water of a plaza in France, a beach in Hawaii, and a fountain in San Diego. There have also been NYSoundMap, and the global, crowd-sourced Sound Around You project.
Launched this week in beta, Street Music Map aims for something a little bit different: A geography of busking.
Short audio/video clips of street musicians from all over the world (though mostly, at this point, from South America and Europe) are pin-dropped onto a Google Map, which is one way the project lets visitors take in a global diversity of street music. Even better, though, is to sift through the collection on the Pinterest-style homepage, where hundreds of the planet's buskers—including Virginian slide-guitarists, adolescent Brazilian flute players, and Kendrick Lamar rapping on a truck moving down Sunset Boulevard—appear and can be heard side by side.
The map was founded by São Paulo-based journalist Daniel Bacchieri, who was inspired by the daily street performances he saw on the subway. He encourages anyone to contribute their street-music footage to the project. "The page aims to expand exchanges between musicians, fans and music lovers in general and also become a vehicle for communication on the worldwide panorama of street musicians," he writes in an email.
Street Music Map is still very much in beta—the pindrop map is pretty clunky—but I'm excited to see where it goes.