LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy has had a dream for New York City for several years: to make New York’s subways sound better. When Murphy and the production team needed a way to create magic and make this idea come to life, they called Hypersonic.
Hypersonic teamed up with James Murphy, Heineken, and Wieden & Kennedy to create the Subway Symphony campaign. The simple idea is to replace the iconic ‘beep’ played when one swipes their Metrocard with a preprogrammed musical tone as part of a harmonic sequence. The combination of multiple turnstiles being used as people travel into the subway station would create a symphony of beautiful sounds, with each subway station having its own unique auditory theme.
To bring this to idea to life, Hypersonic designed realistic subway turnstiles that could show the public what this proposed change in the subways would look, feel, and sound like. We worked with team to design new turnstile tones and design how they would play out across multiple turnstiles as straphangers pass through. We decided to take the project a step further by integrating a demo-mode, where the turnstiles robotically play tones, light up, and move according to actual MTA turnstile-use data. Demo-mode works as if invisible people are using the subway turnstiles in real-time, allowing us to understand what this system might look and sounds like in a busy subway environment.
Hypersonic has been out on tour with the Subway Symphony project at several events around New York City. The turnstiles have thus far been demoed for the public in front of City Hall, at Milk Studios for media demos, and at Soho House New York -where former NY governor David Paterson signed on a big supporter of the campaign. It is the hope that through such public appearances the Subway Symphony campaign will motivate the MTA to include this concept into their planned turnstile replacement project.
Follow the progress of the Subway Symphony campaign here: subwaysymphony.heineken.com/