James Murphy recently revealed his ambitious ideas for reimagining the sounds of New York City’s subway stations. His hope is to create a system wherein turnstile swipe tones shift as stations fill up with more riders, so that turnstiles will effectively be playing pleasant music as the frequency of swipes increases. WSJ has a new clip of Murphy discussing his ideas, along with a brief preview of what the proposed tones would sound like.
“I started noticing that the subway sounds quite brutal,” Murphy says. “There’s a missing opportunity at the turnstile.” That opportunity could be seized as New York prepares to begin a big project to reposition the subway turnstiles to increase efficiency in stations. “Given that all that information is already at the turnstile, why don’t we just make it a nice sound? Just make it pleasant,” Murphy says.
Sounds like a nice idea, right? But New York City officials aren’t really buying it—MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg told the WSJ that the current sounds are grating because of a “natural technical variation and we don’t really care.” Lisberg also pointed out that many people have had similar ideas over the years, and it would require a lot of resources “for an art project.” So Murphy has ramped up his efforts with a website and a petition for the project—find it here.