Subway sounds

Recently my friend and I accidentally hopped on the D Train on our way home from seeing 30 Century Man, a terrific documentary about musical madman Scott Walker. We ended up going out of our way to 34th Street, but that wrong turn led us to another musical fascination.

On the NQR platform at 34th Street there hangs a long contraption that looks like a green industrial vent. However, it’s actually a permanent installation that turns the platform into a musical instrument. There are light sensors on the vent, and when people wave their hands in front of them, they trigger different sounds. Kids across the platform were running back and forth and making their own chaotic, beautiful tunes. This pretty much zapped any frustration caused by our unintended detour, and we hopped on the train happy and headed home to Brooklyn.

The installation is called “REACH New York, An Urban Musical Instrument,” and was put up by artist Christopher Janney back in 1996.

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