AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – If you drive to Auburn University’s campus, you’ll discover a one-of-a-kind musical road is delighting drivers, passengers, and pedestrians, especially if they’re Tiger fans.
The melody you hear along a stretch of South Donahue Drive is the first seven notes of the War Eagle Fight Song. The section of the roadway is now called ‘War Eagle Road’ and is a gift to the Auburn family from Tim Arnold, who graduated Auburn with an industrial engineering degree in 1994.
Arnold’s offering is a modern spin on a road trip mixtape.
“About three to four years ago, I decided Auburn should have a musical road playing the fight song. So I started doing research and learning math,” shared Arnold.
With the support of AU’s Dean of Engineering, Arnold joined with other AU graduates and students turning math into music. Together, they created a heavy-duty overlay product for the road, similar to high powered duct tape.
“We are essentially forcing the tires to vibrate at a special frequency the same way a guitar string, piano string, or trumpet lips make any sound. So we know an ‘A’ note is 440 Hz per second. We studied the fight song and matched the notes to the frequency you hear as the tires vibrate the strips. We snuck out early Thursday morning and put it down in about an hour and a half. I get excited every time I hear it,” shared Arnold.
Drivers coasting at the posted 35 miles per hour speed limit hear the best version of the song.
“Safety-wise a lot of musical roads are put down in Asia and South Korea has one with ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ to encourage people to drive the speed limit. So the mathematics has been reversed for a car going to speed limit to hear it. If you go to fast, it’s a high pitch, and if you drive to slow, it’s dragging,” shared Arnold.
Drivers are urged to use caution if recording the musical notes being played by their vehicles. Make sure to keep cell phones out of the driver’s hands and have a passenger do it safely.
War Eagle Road is one of three musical roads in the United States. However, it’s the first on a college campus and the only route to use the overlay product considered more durable and non-destructive to the road.
Arnold said he has already worked out the math for a musical road featuring “Glory Glory to Ole Auburn.” You can read more about War Eagle Road by following this link: Engineering alumnus brings musical road to Auburn’s campus