Meet Brian Foo, the Data Driven DJ Using City Data and Statistics to Create Music

When we first wrote about local developer and musician Brian Foo back in January, we had no idea his work would blow up the way it did. The DJ is self taught and uses one main instrument to create his tracks: data.

Under the name Data Driven DJ, Foo uses values from publicly accessible data on census information, City numbers and figures, gender tweets and many more in order to drive algorithms that produce music. For instance, his first piece used income data to create a sonification of the 2 train.

The goal of this song is to emulate a ride on the New York City Subway’s 2 Train through three boroughs: Brooklyn, Manhattan, and The Bronx. At any given time, the quantity and dynamics of the song’s instruments correspond to the median household income of that area. For example, as you pass through a wealthier area such as the Financial District, the instruments you hear in the song will increase in quantity, volume, and force.

In this video and accompanying article from composer website New Music Box, watch Foo talk about his projects and data-to-music process.

Matt Coneybeare

Matt Coneybeare

Editor in Chief

Matt enjoys exploring the City's with his partner and son. He is an avid marathon runner, and spends most of his time eating, running, and working on cool stuff.

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