Amidst the clanging turnstiles, emergency exit sirens, and deafening crowd noise of the New York City subway, Brooklyn-based musician James Murphy believes there’s a hidden opportunity to make beautiful music. “Every time you swipe your MetroCard, the turnstile emits a flat, unpleasant ‘beep,’” writes the former LCD Soundsystem frontman on his new website, Subway Symphony. “What I propose to do is to create a series of 3 to 5 note sequences, all unique, one for each station in the subway system. The effect would be that at the busiest times, like rush hour, what was once cacophony would now be music.”
It’s a proposal that sounds beautiful on paper, but is it really feasible? Murphy thinks it is—and that it won’t cost NYC straphangers much money at all. As Murphy points out in a new video created by The Wall Street Journal, the MTA is planning to switch from its current swipe-based system to a tap-and-ride alternative. The machines will already have a sound built into them—it’s just a matter of programming them with the pleasant notes Murphy would provide. “Given that all that information is already in the turnstile, why not just make it a nice sound? Why not make it pleasant?” Murphy wonders.
It’s a plan that has the potential to become a fantastic addition to one of the best public transportation systems in the world. As Murphy puts it: "I believe that music makes people happy, and makes them reflective… And I think that in the years to come, if this system is implemented, people who grew up with these sounds will hear a piece of music at an opera, or on an ad, or in the background of a film and feel a nostalgia for their first apartment, or their basketball practices, as they think 'this song reminds me of Borough Hall' or 'this song reminds me of my school be East Broadway.'"
If you’d like to learn more about Subway Symphony, or to sign a petition to implement the plan you can do so here.
[via The Wall Street Journal]