The New York City subway system has a pretty great musical tradition — especially considering the trains produce such a hellish racket that they could easily make you deaf. The Music Under New York program is a competitive program that allows musicians to audition for spots in some of the most desirable stations in the system, and many other musicians wander the trains, playing everything from electric guitars to conga drums to jaranas.

Now Alexander Chen, a musician and programmer, has taken Massimo Vignelli’s classic 1972 map of the New York subway system and turned it into an instrument of its own using HTML5 and Javascript. The result is eerie and quite lovely.

From Chen’s blog:

These videos are still in-progress tests. I plan to import an actual subway schedule from the MTA’s subway API and have subway trains triggering the performance. After that, I hope to start on an iPad version that would function more as a user-driven instrument.

Chen has used transit systems to create art before. Check out his “Sonata for the Unaware,” in which video of commuters moving through the Philadelphia train station is transformed into music.

(via Gothamist and iPad Punk)