Scattered New York Subway Musicians Perform Together In Real-Time

Scattered New York Subway Musicians Perform Together In Real-Time
Arts & Culture

Collaborative music project 'Signal Strength' connected several musicians using wi-fi enabled devices

Emma Hutchings
  • 27 october 2014

Signal Strength‘ is a collaborative music project by NYC-based filmmaker and video editor Chris Shimojima. Connecting several New York subway musicians in various locations in real-time, wi-fi enabled devices were used to allow a composer to conduct this unique performance from Bryant Park.

Described as “the first NYC wi-fi orchestra,” the project shows how technology can connect the world and create opportunities for collaborative creation. The production team searched New York City for a variety of subway musicians who would unite and perform together for a live experiment.


They were stationed at nine different subway stops with wi-fi and simultaneously connected to the composer Ljova in Bryant Park. He then attempted to remotely conduct them in an original piece he wrote for them, titled ‘Signal Strength’. To ensure they had a strong connection in Bryant Park, they decided to go early on a Sunday morning when fewer people would be using the network. They also had two Verizon Jetpacks as additional wi-fi hotspots.

Nine MacBooks were used, each Skyping to one of the subway stops, while a tenth MacBook fed a click track and harmony into each Skype connection. Along with the video feed of Ljova, this helped the musicians stay on the same page. A portable audio recorder was also placed near to each musician for better quality sound.

Those who happened to walk by one of the subway musicians during the performance wouldn’t have noticed anything unusual, as they will only have heard the one instrument. You can hear all nine parts together and see the unique performance in the video below:

Signal Strength


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