LISTEN: Subway Platform as Musical Instrument

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Christopher Janney's "Reach," in the 34th Street N/R subway station (photo by Kate Hinds)

Manhattan's 34th Street/Herald Square subway station is not among this TN correspondent's favorites -- the platforms are narrow and it's usually crowded (hello, Macy's shoppers). Until last week.

While waiting for the N/R train, I decided to investigate the compelling burbling sounds pouring out of a green metal box suspended above the platform.

Reach New York: An Urban Musical Instrument is an audio installation by artist/architect/composer Christopher Janney. It was permanently installed in the station in 1996. Located on both the uptown and downtown platforms, when people put their hands in front of the instrument: "a burst of musical notes are released on the opposite side, playing to the person on the other side. The hand motions elicit an outpouring of sounds that evoke urban life and bring about duets between strangers waiting for their respective trains."

We had a lot of fun with it last week. You can listen to some audio of "Reach" below. (The sound gets really interesting about 30 seconds in.)


(photo by Kate Hinds)