Back in March, songwriters David Byrne and James Murphy (formerly of LCD Soundsystem) met at Yale to talk about the evolving role of the artist in the digital age. John Schaefer moderated the discussion. Have a listen to a special Soundcheck podcast of the event, which includes discussion of the songwriting process, David Byrne's proposal for an unusual (and potentially deadly) installation, and James Murphy's plans to revolutionize New York City's subway turnstiles.
James Murphy’s plans for New York City’s subway turnstiles:
All the subway turnstiles in New York City…make a beep. It’s a really unpleasant sound and the one that’s right next to it is slightly out of key with it. So, it’s like “ehhh….aehhh…uehhh” Unless you get it wrong and it’s like, “No!” Then it’s the sound of your bruised hip as you hit the thing…
So I thought, I love New York and I love its aggression, and I love that it doesn’t make it easier for you to be a member of the city…But, 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!”
It would be an interesting way to have people relate to the city and I didn’t think it would be that expensive…if anybody knows anybody?