James Murphy New York Subway

James Murphy wants to make music out of New York’s subway turnstiles

No word on fixing the smell.

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- Feb 24, 2014

As anyone who's been to New York will tell you, over and over, apropos of nothing, it's a great city. Spike Lee, de Blasio,"I'm walkin' here!" They've got it all. But former LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy, a musician who enjoys sound, does not appreciate the "quite brutal" noise of the New York subway system, especially the beeping of the turnstiles. Over the past 15 years (!) he's developed a fix, described in The Wall Street Journal:

"He has worked out a unique set of notes for every station, one of which would sound each time a passenger swipes his or her MetroCard to catch a train. The busier a station becomes, the richer the harmonies would be. The same notes would also play in a set sequence when the subway arrives at that stop. Each of the city's 468 subway stations would have note sets in different keys."

For those who haven't been to New York (and buddy you need to go), the subway turnstiles already have a tone system for the blind. Murphy's plan - also given that the Metropolitan Transit Authority is in the process of repositioning the turnstiles "to improve passenger flow" - is to make the sounds nice, for cheap.

However, MTA officials like spokesman Adam Lisberg are skeptical. He says the turnstiles' piercing noise is due to "natural technical variation and we really don't care." There's that New Yawk candour! Dripping like grease off a pepperoni slice. He also mentions that many others have pitched the idea over the years, and that the potential expense and risk of breaking the turnstiles is too high "for an art project." God, when did New York get so anti-art? I'm moving to Philly.

You can sign Murphy's petition for the project here. Watch his proposal above.

(Photo by Araby Williams for The Wall Street Journal)

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