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Christopher Mims

A View from Christopher Mims

iPad App Adds Incidental Music to Your Life

Want to turn the mundane details of your day into a moving episode of This American Life? There’s an app for that.

  • May 21, 2010

Ever fancied yourself as a David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell and Ira Glass–otherwise known as the brilliant, nebbishy hosts of NPR’s This American Life.

For this year’s Music Hack Day San Francisco, Dale Low and Brent Noorda reverse engineered their radio show. They discovered that the secret to making regular Joes and Janes sound profound is to liberally sprinkle emotionally charged musical interludes in between their otherwise unremarkable blather.

Here’s a picture of Dale telling a story so pedestrian that only an inanimate object (his iPad, pictured) could stand to listen.

(He’s actually using another app, Soundbiter, to do the recording.)

The team’s Hack Day app, The Profoundilizer, goes to work after he scans through the sound file, searching for a place to insert a musical cue. Before The Profoundilizer, he’d be forced to then embark on a laborious search for music of the right mood, and with appropriate rights attached.

Instead, the app pops open a search field that can accept natural language input. It scans music-sharing services cc:mixter and, if they ever finish the app, SoundCloud and Indaba.

Now he previews the sound file, drops it in if he likes it, and repeats the process a few more times. Next, as the developers put it, “Dale sees and hears that his original recording is now way more interesting. He is more interesting. He is profound.” And here’s the proof: The Profoundilized version of Dave’s day (streaming audio). It took him all of two and a half minutes to produce the piece using his app.

Those of you who would like to give This American Life a run for their money by Profoundilizing your own experiences should contact the developers directly.

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