Would You Prefer a Subway Symphony to Turnstile Beeps?

On a quest to save us from the irritating noise the New York subway turnstiles make, former LCD Soundsystem front man James Murphy wants to replace each piercing beep with a beautiful tone, one that would be in harmony with the neighboring turnstiles—a Subway Symphony.

It would be music. It would be sweet.

James Murphy working on beautiful sounds for the subway turnstiles. (Screenshot/YouTube)

James Murphy working on beautiful sounds for the subway turnstiles. (Screenshot/YouTube)

During rush hours, millions of people pour through New York city’s underground subway turnstiles. Each swipe of a Metro card results in either one, two, or three high-pitched beeps. It’s an ugly noise, and when merged with the slightly off key beeps of the other turnstiles, it adds to the chaos and the stress.

But the MTA has so far said a firm, it’s never going to happen, NO.

Three years on from Murphy’s initial proposal and shut down, he hasn’t given up.

Heineken has taken notice. They’re launching a campaign to make the Subway Symphony a reality.

New York subway turnstiles. (Screenshot/YouTube)

New York subway turnstiles. (Screenshot/YouTube)

They worked with Murphy on a video, created a website, and are garnering traction on social media. At this point, they need public support to sway the MTA.

The MTA don’t want anyone messing with the beeps. The beeps are important for letting blind people know what’s what. Fair enough… sort of. But that does sound like an excuse. If you give it a couple of seconds thought, you’ll realize we are talking about changing the tones and resonance, not taking the beeps away.

That’s why Heineken has stepped in and is backing Murphy’s idea wholeheartedly. I guess they have people in NYC who hate the subway commute as much as anyone. They get it, it would be beautiful. They also know an incredible marketing opportunity when they see it.

“Changing something so institutionally established as subway turnstiles and the sounds they make takes a lot of effort and hard work from a variety of partners,” said Heineken’s marketing director Quinn Kilbury in a Transportation Nation article.

“As we continue to work behind the scenes, our ultimate goal is unchanged, and we hope to get Subway Symphony in front of the right people for a chance to implement the project.”

Rush hour in the NYC subway's sounds horrible. (Screenshot/ YouTube)

Rush hour in the NYC subways sounds horrible. (Screenshot/YouTube)

If you want this to happen, you’ll have to show your support. Check out the video, go to the Heineken page, and do your bit and sign the petition. NYC’s subway system is way overdue for an upgrade, and though this isn’t adding another line, or newer trains, it would ease the pain while waiting.

Imagine the change in the physiological environment if people were making beautiful music together rather than grinding their way from one place to another. There would be a moment of pleasure as you play your note. If you’ve run out of money on your card, it’ll be even better, you play three notes. Two notes means swipe again. Bonus.


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