New York City has become the new quiet place.
Indeed, since the coronavirus lockdown made everyone either stay at home or flee the city, the chirping birds have been about the loudest thing you can hear in the concrete jungle.
But if your ears — and your heart — are missing the hustle and bustle, you can capture the frequency of our pre-pandemic city in “Missing Sounds of New York,” a new immersive audio experience from the New York Public Library released on Friday.
It’s ironic that the eight-track project — a collaboration with the creative agency Mother New York that is available to stream for free on Spotify and at NYPL.org — would come from the place where you’re supposed to be the quietest: the library.
“With so much uncertainty in the world, there is a real comfort in the familiar,” says Carrie Welch, the library’s chief of external relations. “As New Yorkers ourselves, we were fairly certain that people would enjoy the experience of hearing the sounds of the city they all know, love and miss.”
And those “Missing Sounds of New York” include subway musicians playing as trains rumble by on “To See an Underground Show,” a horse and carriage passing by as dogs — and people — bark in “Serenity Is a Rowdy City Park,” and boisterous fans cheering and jeering at a baseball game in “Out in Left Field.”
“This album is a way New Yorkers can try and access something we all miss: the beautiful cacophony of this city,” says Corinna Falusi, partner in the marketing agency Mother New York.
But, Falusi adds, “I’ve never heard of the library actively promoting noise in a way like this before!”
Then again, these are unprecedented times.
“When I first heard these tracks, I had a very unexpected emotional reaction,” says Welch. “It really hit me how much I missed everyday New York: the sounds of subway performances, cabs honking, and people’s conversations in restaurants or on the sidewalk. It’s a part of all of our lives that very suddenly disappeared. And to hear it again gives you a warm sense. It’s quite cathartic.”
Here are a few of the familiar sounds featured on the new release: