Any ride on the New York City subway will assault your ears: You’ll hear buskers playing instruments from every conceivable musical tradition, people talking and screaming, trains screeching and creaking along their tracks, turnstiles beeping as people swipe their Metro Cards, an eerily calm voice reminding you to stand clear of the closing doors. Artist and programmer Brian Foo isn’t the first to think of the subway musically (James Murphy proposed a city-wide music installation using subway turnstiles not long ago), but his approach is unique. Using the data from the 2011 census, he composed a song, Two Trains, that represents the changes in median income as the 2 train chugs along from Brooklyn through Manhattan and into the Bronx, lurching in and out of different economic zones.
The result is a moving audio portrait of one of the most economically disparate regions in the world. Read about how Foo created the song, using a custom algorithm, here.SW