Former LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy kept busy during the US Open by using an algorithm he devised to create 14 experimental music pieces by “remixing” the tournament matches themselves. He made the pieces, which sound like free-form synthesizer video-game jams with rhythms and bleeps volleying around like tennis balls, in real time on the US Open website. The original songs, cataloged by date and the players in a match, are still available to stream – with visual annotations of when a player scored and when rounds ended – on the tennis tournament’s website. Now his remixes are beginning to surface on SoundCloud.
Murphy has catalogued his recordings by match number and round, though it will require some digging to find out which tennis players played what game. Many of the remixes are explained as shorter versions of the tracks Murphy made.
Match 104, though, got a more in-depth description, likely because it’s credited as one of Murphy’s favorite matches. “When this match began, it could have been either player’s game,” it reads. “And like the match that inspired it, this track opens with beats that are balanced – intense but equal, just like the players – with no instrument clearly taking the lead. The music pulses steadily until the last half of the track, when the instruments start to break form as one player falls behind, and the other takes the lead. The track ends with a soft, high-pitched whistle that ushers the defeated player off the court.” It does not say who the players are.
Similarly, Match 4 got a lengthier, dynamic description but no mention of who played. “When a young player beats a top-seeded player, like in this match from August 25th, it’s bound to make some noise,” it reads. “And in this case, that noise is glorious: a series of simple, almost sweet opening notes that slowly transform into unexpectedly intense, mature sounds. Beats bubble up from out of nowhere, swiftly take over and set the track in an uncompromising new direction.”
Although Murphy’s US Open project spotlights a different approach, it harkens back to his idea to make New York City subways more musical. With his “Subway Symphony” plan, which has not been approved by the MTA, turnstiles would create melodies when people swiped their MetroCards and, when several people swiped at once, harmonies with one another. “If it doesn’t happen I’ll be broken-hearted,” Murphy said of the project.