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James Murphy Wants to Revolutionize NYC’s Subways

James Murphy
Michael Buckner, Getty Images

Bored with the beeps and boops of the New York City subway system, former LCD Soundsystem lead singer James Murphy has a suggestion for the city’s temperamental turnstiles — make them musical, a stroke of weird genius he shared during a Yale panel discussion with former Talking Heads brain David Byrne, listenable below.

Moderated by WNYC‘s ‘Soundcheck’ host John Schaefer, “Art & Music: A Conversation between David Byrne and James Murphy, “explored the role of the artist in a digital age. According to the wordy Yale Daily News write-up, “the musicians expounded upon creative impulse, new music technologies, turnstile arpeggios and Japanese flash mobs.”

Most remarkable was Murphy’s brilliant but strange plan to enhance New York’s rush hour. Rather than the standard commute cacophony, Murphy has an idea to make it much more of a symphony:

I wanted to change the sound of going through the turnstile to a series of notes — I could do a little program. I could be like, well, the dominant note is the root, this is the fifth, this is the third, have a couple of sevenths, throw a few sixths in there just to be crazy. And during rush hour it would make arpeggiated music. And each subway station could have its own key or tonal set. For me, for a new person going to work, I think it would just be nice. It would be hard not to like that more than ‘shut up, idiot, you’re walking so slow!’”

That would be a major improvement. After all, New York we love you, but sometimes you’re bringing us down.

Listen to James Murphy and David Byrne on WNYC’s ‘Soundcheck’

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