For the last 15 years, the former lead singer of LCD Soundsystem has been working to better the underground music scene. No, we aren’t talking about Bushwick warehouse parties. James Murphy wants to turn the incessant beeping of the New York City subway turnstiles — which he likens to “a dissonant rubbing-styrofoam-on-glass squeak” — into beautiful music.
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. These sequences will be part of an intersecting larger piece of music, which would run from station to station, and cross one another as, say, the 4, 5, 6 line (one musical piece) intersects with the L, N, R, Q and W (another musical piece) at Union Square. At each turnstile in Union Square, as you tap your new tap and ride card, a pleasant bell tone will sound, in one of a set of possible notes, all related to that station’s note sequence. The effect would be that at the busiest times, like rush hour, what was once cacophony would now be music.
While Murphy has been on this mission for years, he believes that now is the time for the subway revolution. That’s because New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is beginning a $900,000-a-year project to better the subway systems. There’s also a mission to exchange the swiping of subway cards with a “tap and ride” system in which passengers can enter via smartphone, card, or key.
While an MTA spokesperson interviewed by the WSJ thought the idea was “cool,” he wasn’t very hopeful that it will come to fruition because it would require time, money, and taking all 3,289 turnstiles out of commission. Unfortunately your mass transit entertainment might have to be confined to the “Showtime” break dancers for the foreseeable future.