Roads that are groovy

By Kendal Butler

There are a handful of roads in the world that take rumble strips to another level – a musical level.

Cutting grooves at varying depths and varying distances from each other in asphalt roads can produce sounds that translate to musical notes when a motorist travels over them.

Currently, the only “musical road” in the U.S. is in Lancaster, California. What started as a stunt for a Honda Civic commercial in 2008 is now a tourist attraction in the desert.

The quarter-mile stretch of cut grooves cause audible rumbling to resemble the tune of the “William Tell Overture” by composer Gioachino Rossini.

Engineers found that ¾ inch deep grooves set 2 inches apart produce a high F sound inside the motorist’s vehicle. Fifteen other notes were achieved with different depths and distances to compose the asphalt arrangement.

The original musical road is the “Asphaltophone” constructed in Denmark in 1995. Raised pavement markers spaced at alternating intervals produce the sounds.

Accidental bulldozer scrapings on a road project lead to Japan’s first “Melody Road” in 2007. The three existing musical roads in Japan are used in dangerous stretches of road to discourage speeding.

South Korea’s musical road plays “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and is used to help motorists stay alert and awake.

Search “musical roads” on and you can hear more of the melodies for yourself.