There’s already a ton of music in the New York City subway — bucket drummers and buskers included — but former LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy wants to put even more tunes in the tubes. He wants to make music an intrinsic part of the system itself.
According to a website set up to state his case, Murphy has been trying to move forward with a project for 15 years that would nix the jarring beep of the MetroCard turnstiles and replace it with music.
“Each turnstile emits its own beep, all of which are slightly out of tune with one another, creating a dissonant rubbing-styrofoam-on-glass squeak in stations all around New York City,” Murphy wrote. “It’s kind of horrible.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, the musician thinks the time is right for a solution, as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is undertaking a multi-year plan to improve passenger flow as well as a project to replace MetroCards with devices embedded with electronic chips, like smartphones.
Murphy hopes to implement his plan during this reorganization, a plan for which he developed notes for each station that could play whenever someone uses the subway turnstile. Instead of sounding a jarring beep, every passenger would contribute to a unique symphony of sorts. Those notes would also play when subways arrived at their stations.
“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,’ ” Murphy wrote.
According to the MTA, however, the musician’s plan would be difficult to make manifest. MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg told the WSJ that it would require a lot of time and money, as well as possible inconvenience for travelers as it would mean putting turnstiles out of service. It’s not something that the MTA would do “for an art project,” he said.
Not deterred, however, Murphy is going ahead with his plan, composing tones, which he shared with the WSJ, and setting up a petition on his website.
“If it doesn’t happen I’ll be broken hearted,” he told the Journal.