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Tokyo "All Aboard" Melodies

From: Andy Raskin
Length: 03:12

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Melodies heard on Tokyo train platforms.

Train_small Tokyo train platforms used to use a buzzer to tell people "all aboard." About ten years ago, Japan Railway began introducing more soothing synthesized melodies to do the job. Aired on NPR's All Things Considered 9/18/03.

Piece Description

Tokyo train platforms used to use a buzzer to tell people "all aboard." About ten years ago, Japan Railway began introducing more soothing synthesized melodies to do the job. Aired on NPR's All Things Considered 9/18/03.

4 Comments Atom Feed


Review of Tokyo "All Aboard" Melodies

O-medeto, Andy! I really like this piece. The quintessence, to me of so much in Japan, not just the subways. Was it just one composer from Yamaha or a team who worked on JNR's behalf?. And that was about the same time they were laying off so very many people so that they perhaps also used these sounds to soothe the harrowed 'wa' of their ex employees, many of whom they -- strangely -- put to work in coffee shops?

Please, now, do a follow-up/companion piece on commuter reaction
at the same stations. Again a short piece but with comments from Mr. Salaryman, Mrs Obaasan and a few school kids. I'd REALLY like to know what commuters think or do they just block it all out.?

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Review of Tokyo "All Aboard" Melodies

This piece will literaly haunt you unexpectedly like a friendly memory. I first heard this on the radio, back when it first was produced over a year ago. I seem to remember that I only heard a portion of it at the time and I wanted more....A few weeks back I happened upon this piece on PRX and listened to it whilst applying a silicone seam sealer to my tent in prep for a camping trip but the wind came, my battery died on the laptop streaming the piece, and I wanted more....This morning after getting back from an intense 6day Zen retreat (Sesshin) I find myself on PRX as I catchup with my world and there is a review of this piece on the homepage. I am surprised to hear that the train melodies were inspired by the function and form of a Zen temple bell. I listen to the piece three times through and through and still I wanted more and I realize that I have heard the entire piece in its 3:12 entirety every time. I would like to hear more about the dissonance that is mentioned in the spaces of colliding melodies. More about the form and function of the melodies and if they really work (I know they work in the very controlled envirionment of temples and sesshin): Translated dialogue and tracking of people on the trains *feelings* and thoughts of the melodies....I wanted more but am mostly thankful for hearing this at all. I shall go listen one last time, now, and just see if it haunts me in the future. Its nice not to be alone when you are haunted, so please listen I think you will find it follows you to through your soundrich life and, well.... All Aboard!

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Review of Tokyo "All Aboard" Melodies

Japan has a unique quality among modern cultures when compared with its western counterparts. Any traveler or businessperson in Japan will recognize the routines of modern life, but the Japanese always seem to find a way to make a unique contribution to the process. They have a special knack at understanding the need for art or music, even in the most impersonal and utilitarian of settings.

Mr. Raskin does a good job of describing how these "All Aboard" Melodies came about, and how they are used. He includes just enough Japanese to get his point across without getting bogged down in a foreign language lesson. He also lets us here the melodies without talking over them, and does a good job of playing some in an isolated state, while presenting others with the atmospheric noise of their settings. It is clear that he gave a lot of though to how the melodies should be presented. I also enjoyed his descriptions of the various melodies, including the piece that reminded him of Mr. Rogers Trolly song. A good chuckle on that note.

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Broadcast History

Ran on NPR's All Things Considered, 9/18/03

Related Website

http://www.andyraskin.com