For a very, very long time, James Murphy has been trying to change the harsh sound that New York City subway turnstiles make when you go through them to something prettier. Last year, he debuted a preview of what his concept would sound like, and now he’s partnered with Heineken to try and make it a reality. They’ve started a campaign called Subway Symphony to draw attention to the cause.
“New York City is a beautiful, one-of-a-kind place, and the people who are willing to do what it takes to live here – deal with the crowds and the commotion and the noise – deserve a little sonic gift like this,” Murphy said in a press release. “I want to turn the cacophony of the subway into unique pieces of music. It might seem like a small thing, but that’s exactly the point. This is such an easy way to make this great place I call home even greater.” They’ve created a slick new video to go along with the campaign:
Here’s the thing, though: There’s pretty much no chance that this will ever happen. When word of the new partnership between Murphy and Heineken trickled out last week, Gothamist reached out to the MTA for a comment, and it’s an unequivocal nope:
We have heard from him, and as we’ve told him many times, we cannot do it. The tones are an ADA element for the visually impaired, and we won’t mess with them — much less take turnstiles out of service and risk disabling them for an art project. (It would be a very cool project, don’t get me wrong, but we can’t mess with turnstiles that handle 6 million customers a day for it.)
[…] As a condition of filming [the promo ad] in the subway, we made them acknowledge that we can’t and won’t do it.
Still, Murphy and sponsors continue on. The Youtube description for the campaign promo says that “by the end of the summer, we are hoping to have new turnstile notes installed in our first station.” Except that’s definitely not true. While an interesting idea in theory, it’s clear that this dream is dead in the water.
Maybe Murphy should turn his attention to his upcoming Williamsburg wine bar instead?