Techno Music and Ford Create a Fusion of Sound


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DEARBORN — In an unusual blend of automotive and musical worlds, three Detroit-area Techno musicians used a 2013 Ford Fusion to make original tracks using the sounds produced by the car. They recorded everything from doors slamming to the soft back-and-forth of the windshield wipers.

The musicians took the sounds back to their studio along with a sound bank of Fusion chimes and tones and got to work. Using loop machines, synthesizers and their own creativity, each artist composed an original song featuring Fusion as an instrument.

Ford was there to capture each artist putting the songs together and explaining his respective process.

The results are tunes that groove with the same drive and energy that thousands of Techno fans who descend upon Detroit this Memorial Day weekend will hear. Each Fusion musician, provided by Paxahau – organizers of the Movement Electronic Music Festival – produced a unique song that transformed the everyday sounds of the car into a work of art. The trunk slam was looped to mimic the iconic kick-drum popular in Detroit Techno, the strong hum of the 2.0-liter hybrid engine is used as an overtone that wails with meditative resonance and the seat belt reminder plays as a melodic syncopation.

"This project worked so well because Techno music, by its nature, is very similar to the makeup of a car," explains Joshua Harrison, contributing musician and a performer in the upcoming festival. "In both cases, there are lots of little pieces mechanically put together. Just like a car, a Techno song has many elements that serve their own small purpose, and the masters of the craft are those who can put it all together and make everything work as one solid piece."

The Fusion music is ripe for melodic composition thanks in part to the dedication of Ford engineers who work painstakingly to ensure the smart technology of the car's sounds is specific and evokes appropriate responses from the driver and passengers.

Engineers write two to three note tones and conduct studies with listening groups to determine the correct sound for potential situations.

Alexander Petniunas, Ford sound quality technical expert, says that audible warning is intended to prompt the operator to respond the right way. Engineers work with four grades of severity. The high pitch staccato sound, for example, is considered the most severe, whereas the three note welcome chimes are meant to deliver a comfortable greeting. The sounds are designed to conjure an emotional response. The project worked out so well, said Petniunas, because music does the same thing.

Petniunas says some sounds are designed to be harsh to the human ear, like the loud warning that plays in cross-traffic alert technology, while other sounds like the reverse alert are softer in order to prompt action on the part of the driver but not cause alarm. Hundreds of sounds are analyzed.  

"I love that the musicians were so infatuated with the sound of the Fusion's door slams," says Ramita Chawla, Ford sound quality engineer. "It's a testament to all the hard work that went into engineering a solid 'thunk' from the doors over the past few years.

"The level of detail that goes into developing sound quality in several of the vehicle components is often overlooked," she adds, "though subconsciously, these sounds significantly influence customers' perception of quality. I think it's pretty cool to hear pleasant sounds from various parts of the car coming together harmoniously to create these musical tracks."

Ford and the Movement Electronic Music Festival have a friendship spanning more than a decade – beginning when the festival was still in its infancy.

"Detroit inspires the world with its Techno music and cars," says Jason Huvaere, director of the Movement Festival. "Techno music is engineered and manufactured by skilled innovators, much as a vehicle is. When Ford does something like this, it's exciting. And it definitely says to us Ford gets it."

To hear each song, go to facebook.com/fordfusion, and to learn more about the Movement Electronic Festival go to facebook.com/movementdetroit.

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