This musician’s turning tennis into music

Musician and producer James Murphy is turning the US Open into music. The thwack of the ball, line judges screaming ‘FAULT!’, British hopes being dashed… When you think about musical inspirations, tennis might not be high on the list.

But IBM and ad agency Ogilvy & Mather wanted to give it a try anyway. So they asked Murphy, who fronted LCD Soundsystem until they disbanded in 2011, to make some beats inspired by the US Open, which ends on Monday. And not even the games themselves: their data. Appropriately enough, they’re calling it the US Open Sessions.

Using a specially-designed system made by production company Tool of North America , Murphy inputs players’ names, rankings, and what court they’re playing on, and these facts and stats are translated into the tempo, instrumentation, and key. This is combined with detailed match data collected by the IBM cloud to make a track which streams live to distract the crowd during the match.

Each match’s piece of music is made up of six instruments, two of which represent the players. When games and major points are won, or a player hits an ace, it literally forces Murphy to change his tune. Each track is accompanied by a graphic representation of the music to make what Co Create calls ‘an ethereal audio-visual soundtrack of each match’. Once the tournament is over, Murphy plans to remix the match music into something a bit more accessible (tennis matches can be over three hours, y’all) and put the shorter versions online.

Image via Steven Pisano’s Flickr.

Diane Shipley