Does The Netherlands make for a good bassline? What kind of drum pattern is created by the journey from Los Angeles to New York? Could the Himalayas be used for an incredible chord progression?

Envisioned and coded (in Processing) over a period of 5 days, BumpMap takes topography and makes it audible. A sense of exploration and curiosity, similar to looking up your own house the first time you tried Google Streetview, is created. One in which personal locations or journeys can be just as easily mapped as the Andes mountains. The brief was to present the project as a musical performance, so it leans itself into live improvisation and and the possibility of inviting others up to try.

A line is drawn between two points on a map, and points are then evenly spaced along this journey according to the desired amount of samples. Through analysing the brightness of the pixel underneath each point it is then possible to generate a note that can be played. The program can also send out MIDI values to programs like Ableton Live, so that new or custom instrument kits can be attached.

The program takes the ‘mapping’ analogy a step further through the use of ‘planets’ and their orbiting ‘moons’. Planets visualise the valleys and mountains that comprise a certain journey, and the moon indicated which exact point is being played. The idea for the planets actually came before the idea of reading topography, because planets naturally allow for a looping cycle to be created.