James Murphy's Subway Dream: Soundtrack The Underground

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James Murphy’s days with LCD Soundsystem are over, but he’s still experimenting with ways to innovate with music. His Subway Symphony project sets out to accompany the daily commute with musical compositions, each unique to a certain subway line.

James MurphyJames Murphy Wants Subway: The Musical

According to a brand new website set up for the purposes of explanation and recruitment of thought, Murphy explains that he’s been “trying for 15 years” to forge a musical partnership between New York’s famous transport system and his brand of electronic music. Currently, he says, “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,” on the petition site.

“What I propose to do is to create a series of three to five 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,” he adds.

James Murphy PortugalJames Murphy Performing in Portugal

In addition to creating a mellifluous backdrop for what is a fairly mundane affair, Murphy suggests that each station’s sound will act as a mnemonic device. “People reading a magazine will hear their little melody before the station’s name is announced and know they’re home,” he wrote. “People who grew up with these sounds will hear a piece of music at an opera, or on an ad ... and feel a nostalgia for their first apartment, or their basketball practices.”

While bureaucracy and ulterior motivations threaten to side-line Murphy’s ambitious project, despite an impending switch from swipe-cards to a card-tap system. MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg says others have had similar ideas and that it would take too much time and money to implement. Sign the petition if you disagree.


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