Discovering the sounds of Detroit

From the Knight BlogA new, collaborative symphony, led by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Tod Machover of the MIT Media Lab and funded by Knight, is taking shape in the Motor City. Below, Machover, who is gathering sounds from the people of Detroit to shape the piece, writes about his work. A version of this post was originally published at

The Symphony in D project records sounds with the students of Detroit’s YouthVille.
The Symphony in D project records sounds with the students of Detroit’s YouthVille.

…a surprising number of sounds I am hearing about are private, personal, idiosyncratic and simply full of life. Everyone seems to have their own favorite bar with a typical buzz, a preferred neighborhood walk, an admired deco skyscraper or earlier-than-deco factory – still in use, converted to other purposes, or waiting for new life. I was able to experience a pretty wide range of Detroit experiences on this last visit, from the overlapping sounds and stories at the Meridian Winter Blast to a 24-hour dance-a-thon in East Village to raise money for the Sister Pie Bakery. Detroit is not only friendly; it is also a city of incredible individualists, and I feel very fortunate to be starting to hear many of your stories and sounds.

We are really interested in working with anyone and any group in Greater Detroit to help find the most beautiful sounds to share and most significant stories to tell, so please visit us or contact us at if you’d like to participate.

Read the full Knight Blog post here.

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