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You are listening to New York – police radio and ambient music (youarelistening.to)
191 points by manuw on Sept 22, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 68 comments

[ SomaFM SF 10-33]


Ambient music mixed with the sounds of San Francisco public safety radio traffic.

[ SomaFM Mission Control ]


A mix of ambient and experimental music mixed with the historical sounds of the space program.

Soma FM is one of my favourite things. Their stations are among my top listening while working. The lack of ads/interruption and excellently compiled playlists make for wonderful listening that truly augments my mood and ability to concentrate.

Another recommendation : I used to listen to "Bluemars - Music for the space traveler" stream, but it has been defunct[0] for some time. However, it seems someone is trying to revive it there [1]. It is really great to use as background when coding. Eerie and inspiring.

(I just hope that my link won't DDOS it)

[0] http://bluemars.org/ [1] http://echoesofbluemars.org/index.php

Thanks, and thanks to mkal_tsr for the link to Mission Control, that sounds like fantastic music for work! Here is a list of my go-to music for work:

* (mandatory, already seen multiple times on HN) http://musicforprogramming.net/

* Kruder & Dorfmeister - The K+D Sessions. Fantastic mix.

* Apparat - The whole discography, but especially Silizium, and Krieg und Frieden. Both mix deliciously electronic and violin/cello.

Trentemoller Radio on pandora is pretty good for coding.

Subdued, but steady beats to maintain pace, with a touch of atmospheric electronics.

They are amazing, and afaik live off of donations. As each of you guys discover Soma, please consider a small donation to the station to keep them going.

Let's not forget the Christmas Lounge!

Mission control is excellent background for playing Kerbal Space Program

So bizarre. I remember listening to Groove Salad when I was probably 14 years old. Now here I am, 11 years later, living in SF, and I get reminded of it on a random HN post.

Have you noticed some changes in sf1033 in the last 9 months ? It feels now as if the mixes are deliberately more musical than ambient.

I personally don't really listen to sf1033 at all, but figured I'd toss it in since I figured HN probably has a skew toward that area ;-) For more ambient, I'm usually listening to recommendations by,

* http://reviews.headphonecommute.com/

* Spotify: http://open.spotify.com/user/headphonecommute / spotify:user:headphonecommute

My mistake, I meant ambient as in "ambiance sound" not the musical style (less chatter, more music with melody).

But excellent recommendation nonetheless (listening to the flashbulb on reviews.headphonecommute.com) !

Mission Control is my all time favourite SomaFM channel!

There's also a similar native app for iOS called La Vue – perfect for late night coding sessions. It's also an eerie experience to walk down the streets of your own city while listening to the sounds of another city on the other side of the globe/country.

[La Vue for iOS] https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/la-vue/id566957123?mt=8

Dang, this is cool...

I love the idea of procedural music using live data sets. This works really well - a lot of ambient music I listen to already has radio samples in it. I wonder if you could add reverb to the radio? Maybe with the room size oscillating very slowly.

Might I recommend a lower default volume for the radio? I'm listening to it more for the sound quality and not the words themselves.

Could you make some kind of "music" out of the audio from a Twitter stream of Vine videos?

Thanks for listening to my site everyone. It's crazy that 3+ years after launch it's still finding new listeners every day! Feel free to @ me on twitter with any questions (@idontlikewords)

When the music player slides away, how do I bring it back?

Use the "RSS" icon in the top nav to slide it in and out. Not the most intuitive, I know. But in keeping with the minimalism... =)


Ohhh, I like this one:


Yeah, I've got The Conet Project 4CD box set.

A guy at Aquarius Records in San Francisco convinced me to "just have a listen" back in '98 or '99, and I bought them _immediately_

It's available to download at archive.org: https://archive.org/details/ird059

I absolutely love this. On one hand you've got the peacefulness of mellow ambient music, and on the other, the potential death, doom and destruction from the police channels. It properly conveys the 'techno' feeling that something can go horribly wrong at any moment.

Apparently the idea for Twitter came to Jack Dorsey from listening to a police scanner: http://www.cnet.com/news/jack-dorsey-on-his-childhood-inspir...

It's very much a techno thing, reminiscent of a track like Space Manoeuvres' "Stage One". I'm not sure if it's ethical to do it with live emergency communications, though.

Can someone elaborate please? Why listen to police radio while listening to ambient music?

I am genuinely curious and would like to understand this better.

It invokes a mood. It distills a spirit of night and cities that never sleep. Urgent events from a police scanner play upon a feeling of social connectedness. Combining that with ethereal music plays upon senses of tranquility, danger, peace, haunting, calms before storms, and life transpiring. Dramas like Blade Runner, The Killing, and True Detective, as a few examples, achieve many of their most beautiful moments through that same, heightened essence.

It's great for programming at night. It's meditative without entering a full alpha state. It's like other moods, such as sounds of rain and nature, that linger but don't distract. Many people find it conducive to "the zone" of creativity and productivity.

This is very strange to me. How can it not distract? Some guy beats up his wife, or worse, and knowing so helps you coding? I would have never guessed it. I understand the notion about a certain mood, as in Blade Runner, but that's carefully arranged fiction. This is real life. (The last sentence probably reads more dramatic than intended.)

> knowing so helps

I understand that some people can't help but listen to the voice, but for me, it is difficult for me to hear details and it quickly turns into background noise.

Sometimes it does. It depends. For instance, if I'm listening to NPR, Democracy Now, or other news shows and podcasts, those are usually too distracting. I can't get any real work or reading done if it's too engaging. "Silence" can be golden. Then there are other forms of vocal information that seem to recede well enough in the background yet remain there just enough to decide whether to actively listen.

It might be put in terms of working around others. Ideally, the noise others make will enter subconsciousness enough to concentrate yet remain aware of anything 'worth' listening to or someone snapping in my face. Basically, you just have to experiment on yourself. Do what feels right for you. If someone's constantly fighting for concentration against surroundings, then that person needs to change surroundings. And moods constantly change.

Emotions are humanity. Life is real life. Moreover, good movies are far more than mere fiction or the sum of their parts. To people with vivid imaginations and deep empathy, any [medium of information], "fact" or fiction, powerful enough, can be experienced viscerally as with "real life" even if only in that moment.

I think this confusion is a stereotypical introvert vs extrovert thing. The interrupting human voices and drama distract and exhaust some, while focusing and energizing others.

I can listen to music while doing grunt work, but I need silence to concentrate. There may be a language issue WRT "coding" where design and implementation needs silence, minor optimization and bug fixing is possible, maybe more enjoyable, with music.

There may be more factors beyond these two.

Air Traffic Control feeds can be easier to let blur, since they lack any sense of drama. They do tend to be less busy late at night, though.

It's noon somewhere.

(I don't know where you get your ATC feeds but maybe you can get ones from across the world)

You might be able to work around that by using dispatches in a lunguage you don't know. Russian or Swedish police radio chatter would have similar sense of urgency, etc, but you wouldn't know the specific Bad Things that are happening.

For me the police radio is usually just unintelligible chatter with lots of distortion and noise. I could maybe understand a word or two, but that would require concentrating on it. Now it just creates an atmosphere.

Dystopian coding soundbed? Sure, it works.

However, I don't think this is the distillation of the spirit of night or sleep. Cities have their own sounds. This completely removes any actual sound and replaces it with mood music. It then completely removes actual humanity and suffering, and replaces it with dispassionate narration of management of human activity. I'm not sure you could get less connected to the city.

That said, I have code to do... so on with the suffering!

I said it partly distills a spirit of cities that never sleep, not of sleep. :) Not everyone lives in dense urban areas. And many who do don't want to listen to the actual noise of their environment. It's often distracting. That's the point of setting a mood. It's escapism. You try to choose how you want to feel. Beyond altering the immediate space around oneself via sound, lighting, scents, physical comfort, scenery, and ambiance in general, one may want to remain tuned into the larger, active world through real-time streams yet not have it be distracting. That could come through web sites, visuals, music, television, radio, shortwave, or any other medium that creates a sense of 'living information.' It can be comforting. It can be greatly humanizing.

One may be deep in the heart of a sardine-packed city, feeling disconnected. No setting is exclusive to the shaping of one's feelings except to those who may not care to shape their own positive perception.

> It then completely removes actual humanity and suffering, and replaces it with dispassionate narration of management of human activity.

It depends on the person being affected. Speaking only for myself, it's the opposite of dispassion. Sure, I love dark, dystopic, cyberpunk moods with the best of 'em. Personally, however, and I'm sure this rings true for others here, I'm always left with overwhelming sense of hopefulness in those moments of unease. It's a feeling that humanity can come together to resist and overcome obstacles. It's entirely empathetic and passionate. On the topic of police scanners, indeed, upsetting moments occur. Suffering occurs. Humorous moments occur too. It's interesting. My constant worry and sincere hope goes out to people in need even at the mere sound of an ambulance. The presence of critical information is not fuel of sadism. It's fuel of concern, curiosity, connectedness, and awareness.

News functions greatly in this respect. Heavy news affects those who are willing to bear witness to it. It's humanity's suffering. News of the world's plight causes a rollercoaster of emotions. As much as it brings pain, shock, tears, pessimism, and cynicism, it so too brings cause, unity, hope, struggle, and awareness. The electricity of urgency has its own presence regardless of how different people objectify it. People who tune-out of it altogether could be equally objectifying, depending on their attitude and perception. Tuning out can be healthy just the same. Emotions are 'pluralistic' amid extremes of peace, fear, love, happiness, and curiosity. Lightning, though terrifying, remains electrifying.

> That said, I have code to do... so on with the suffering!

Hilarious! I'm entering a more upbeat mood now. A mix of violent gangsta rap blended with the life-affirming moans of highway traffic will suffice. A.B.C.

Well, there a variety of tunes out there with understated music and methodical sampling of the human voice like that for effect, although usually they try to provide something a little more concise and deliberately narrative to go with it -- limitations of the medium. I'm pretty out of touch with the usual channels so I can't actually name any of it done in the past 40 years or so, but here's some classic Simon and Garfunkel overlaying Silent Night with a really depressing 7 o'clock news: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgYFXCUEL4Y

Also, every so often you hear about a crazy fire going on or someone trying to jump off the Golden Gate bridge. (On sf-1033, naturally, not this one. Also, I like what sf-1033 does with the reverb on the police scanner bits.) It was really great back when people were rioting in the streets after the World Series victory, throwing bottles at the police and burning an articulated Muni-bus.

For a more recent example, Manu Chao also samples a lot from similar sources, like radio ads, movies and political speeches (usually in Spanish). E.g. in Welcome To Tijuana: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qw2Pny_N_Tg&t=2m30s

Well, I don't think i can make you understand, but here's some discussion on the matter: http://redd.it/28zker

In short, it can be used to zone out and work, or just as background noise for your daily activities. if being immersed in a noir/cyberpunk/blade runner mindset like that works for you)

For me it reminds of Comme a la Radio from Brigite Fontaine. (But her take on that subject is wayyyyyyyy better) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1HseInfDiE

This is a really great idea--bravo, xtrmntr! Are you traversing a SoundCloud playlist, or pulling randomly based on tags? It's quite cool.

If the police feeds are too dramatic, there's that excellent (archival) NASA audio one as well: http://youarelistening.to/nasa

Worth mentioning that they cover a number of cities, including St Petersburg, where they listen to road traffic police (in Russian of course).

This was really soothing until SFPD started talking about a nasty Truck/Motorcycle accident. They dropped the line "The rider is still down", and now I'm switching to ambient by itself.

Nice site though. This is actually pretty soothing as long as it's typical, nearly-undecipherable police chatter.

Yeah, listening to Chicago's at night can get pretty gnarly.

This is just great. Not only the sounds, but I love the backdrops. I'm reminded of how much I miss LA.

Very nice!

Why not make the third component live -- and include a webcam feed in the background instead of the static image?

In a similar vein, there's a great album that mixes ambient music with field recordings from airport terminals: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_for_Real_Airports

Nice ! I would love to have a stream to play in my music player rather than in my web browser !

Bundle this into an app with some nice photos or live webcam and I'll throw some money at it!

Looks like they already did it: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/la-vue/id566957123

Boom, purchased!

This is really cool. Makes me feel productive. I have been working on ambient music that allows me to work and stay focused. Just released some of my first tunes here: http://www.vpena.com

Hey, great work. Listening to it now.

What toolset or DAW did you use to create these?

This was all done with Ableton live 9 on Surface Pro 3. I did use some field recordings and a few micro samples from Bill Evan's album, Moonbeams.

Wow great to hear.

I've been learning Ableton Live 9 on my Mac, along with a Push controller, which I can't recommend enough.

Very nice work--great textures and atmosphere. Thanks for sharing it!

If you're ever inclined toward a productivity challenge, you might want to check out http://weeklybeats.com (not my site, but I am a participant). The idea is to write, record, and upload one piece per week. (My stuff's at http://weeklybeats.com/#/onezero/ )

The site is also mentioned in a good episode of the design podcast 99% Invisible.


Bookmarked. I already occasionally listen to local and nonlocal police scanners via Broadcastify with my own playlists of atmosphere and ambient-shoegaze music. No joke. I'll use this. Some beautiful, fresh music on the roll here.

Mind sharing any of your playlist?

I loved your explanation: "It invokes a mood. It distills a spirit of night and cities that never sleep. Urgent events from a police scanner play upon a feeling of social connectedness. Combining that with ethereal music plays upon senses of tranquility, danger, peace, haunting, calms before storms, and life transpiring."

Thank you! I'd be honored. Likewise, I'll be eager for any music from you, especially as you're even willing to ask. It should be noted that I truly love all forms of music and sound without reservation.

Would be nice if HN had a simple forum or messaging/alerts for these moments. My lists are a disastrous mess in Foobar. It's time to finally get up to par and organize what I can on Spotify or whatnot for these situations. Any way to message, or just check back in a few days?

I tuned in just in time to hear a report of a child being shot. On the plus side, the relaxing music just makes this seem like the opening of a drama film.

My first thought when I saw the website name was Screenwriter's Blues by Soul Coughing - which turns out to be looping on the info page!

Very cool idea.

Thought this was the stupidest thing ever, then I listened. It's rather cool and seems to work. Kudos.

absolutely love this, well done!

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