Coming Soon: Subway Turnstiles Made More Pleasant With Music?

(photo credit: Araby Williams/The Wall Street Journal)

We all benefit from access and exposure to art.  My day is brightened when I spot a Swoon print in Brooklyn, pass some b-boys at Union Square, or randomly pass performers on the sidewalk.  These daily NYC occurrences are routine, but they present calm in the midst of traffic, busy streets and crowded subways.  Now James Murphy, ex-front man of LCD Soundsystem, is looking to make that pleasant feeling a more permanent one by exchanging the headache-inducing beep at the MetroCard turnstile with pleasing chimes and melodic tones: each swipe would generate a sound that varies from, but acts in accordance with, the sounds generated by other swipes – thereby creating lyrical and harmonizing music.

Subway turnstiles will be going through an overhaul by 2019 and Murphy aims to be a part of that restoration process so that the project will not require extra money.  The stations require a sound chip regardless, so why not contribute to them by producing a calmer, more pleasant encounter?  The project, which Murphy is calling “Subway Symphony,” has not been greenlit, but Murphy hopes to convince the MTA to accept his proposal.  Fans of the idea can sign a petition to express their interest: www.subwaysymphony.org/petition.

The shoving and pushing of the subways can never be fully prevented. The hustle and bustle, the rush and the hassle will forever be at the core of New York City.  But Murphy believes that he can create pause in a busy and stressful day.  “It’s just an opportunity to have something quite beautiful in a place where something beautiful seems impossible or unlikely.”

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