What is Adaptive Music?

By Carrie Havranek

If you run or walk for exercise on a regular basis, chances are you’ve created a playlist which matches your workout in terms of pace and time. Have you ever wished your playlist matched your cadence better, or that you could amp up the beat at just the right moment? Surprise! There’s actually an app for that. 

There is a growing scientific consensus behind music as precision medicine. Fitness app developers are going beyond the concept of a simple playlist to really dial in the technology based on your desired experience. Adaptive (or generative) music apps pull your biometric, mood, and situational data to create evolving soundscapes that are designed to improve your well-being and performance. They tailor the music to your run in real time.

What Exactly is Adaptive Music?

We talked with one of the leaders in the development of this technology, Weav Run creator Lars Rasmussen (also the co-creator of Google Maps) about how adaptive music actually works—and ways it can motivate us to run that extra mile. 

How does adaptive music work, exactly? It’s simple…go running (or walking) with our app, and the music automatically adapts to your movements. No matter how fast or slow you run, every step will land on a beat. It makes your running feel more like dancing, which compels you to run faster for longer periods of time, and to go out more often. The best part is that the music sounds great no matter how you run: it just doesn’t change the tempo of the music (which would quickly sound like Alvin and the chipmunks)! Instead, the technology creates the perfect remix at the exact tempo you need.

Ok, so once you load the app, what’s next? You can operate the music in two modes: Match-my-stride means we automatically make the music sync to your feet. Fixed-tempo means you get to pick how fast the music should play, and use that to drive your run. You can choose the music yourself from Weav’s library, or let the app choose it for you.

How do the guided runs work? You choose from a small, but growing library of workouts sorted by level of difficulty. Later this year, we will likely launch full training programs such as couch-to-5k, or something similar.

We’ve just launched a new feature of guided runs which take data up a notch. For example, if you go out for our 400-meter repeat workout with our running coach Kelly Roberts, we will talk you through the workout, and will give you workout-specific stats both during and after the run. Mile-split paces are not relevant to a 400-meter repeat workout. Instead, Kelly will tell you how fast you completed each 400-meter effort, and ignore how far you went during the 1-minute recovery periods.

We put a lot of effort into making these dynamic pace and distance cues sound completely natural—as if Kelly had recorded them along with the workout itself. 

Can you have the music without the voice coaching? Yes! Look for the ‘Just Run’ tab at the top of the app, and you simply go running with our adaptive music without coaching. (You have the option of asking Kelly to give you short distance/duration/pace cues every so often, even when not taking one of her structured workouts).  There are several adaptive music options such as Galantis, DRAM, Clean Bandit, KREAM, Icona Pop, 21 Savage, Anitta, Rudimental, Dolly Parton, En Vogue, and many, many others, but also a smaller collection of ‘Weav Originals’ that emerging artists composed and recorded specifically for our app.

What data does this give you, exactly—cadence, pace, mileage, heart rate? Similar to other running apps, we show your route on a map, give you total time/pace, and split time/pace, as well as your running cadence in steps-per-minute. 

Additional Adaptive Music Apps

Other apps to check out include Endel, which uses generative music based on your GPS, the weather, time of day, and what you’re doing at the moment, Fluent, which enables you to upload your own music, and LifeScore, which uses famed Abbey Road studios in England to record its tracks. 

You can try Weav Run for free through September if you have an iPhone (Psst: Android is on the way, but they can’t say when). 

“We decided to make the app free as our small contribution to help people to survive the craziness of COVID,” says Lars Rasmussen, who developed the app with Elomida Visviki through the company, Weav Music.

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

About Carrie Havranek
Carrie Havranek writes about wellness, food and travel from Easton, Pa., where she is a dedicated shopper of the Easton Farmers' Market.

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