Unbeknownst to the rest of the world, James Murphy has been waging a war for the past fourteen years. The former lead singer of LCD Soundsystem went on the Sound Opinions podcast and shared his hopes to turn all New York City subway turnstiles into musical instruments:
I want to make every station in New York have a different set of dominant keys, so that people who grow up will later on in life will hear a piece of music and say, ‘Oh, that’s like Union Square.’ So when you go through the turnstiles, there would be a little thing that would make a beep that would make a certain note.
Murphy’s subway symphony would have each station be based in a certain key, randomly generating a note on the scale with every turn. The dream, in Murphy’s words, is twofold. The first is to shine a little light into the underground. “It’s such a brutal city,” he said. “I think one little gift of kindness would be nice.”
The second is to connect sound and memory. The hope is that travelers will start to recognize the sound and key of their home station, creating an unconscious link between a series of notes and the sensation of coming home.
The project is far from finished. Frankly, it’s having a tough time getting started. Murphy has run into the predictably colossal walls of bureaucracy while trying to get his idea off the ground. But, as the host points out, maybe having a new mayor will turn the tide. Stream the interview clip below: