Mp3 Experiment #15 – Featuring our Special Projects

It’s that time of season where we like to feature each of our Special Projects so that you, the Make Music New York community, can have a better understanding of the many great ways to enjoy our music celebrations on Thursday, June 21st (mark your calendar!). Look for regular blog posts outlining events across neighborhoods and boroughs, featuring amazing and engaging musicians from the New York area.

This week, I got to chat with Charlie Todd, founder of Improv Everywhere – a comedic performance art group that carries out “missions” in public places. Last year, he worked with Make Music New York on Mp3 Experiment 14 – he’ll be back this year with another special project to check out!

Spencer Kulow: Hi Charlie! We’re excited to have Improv Everywhere return to present Mp3 Experiment Number 15 for Make Music New York this June 21st. Would you mind giving us a bit of the history behind the Mp3 Experiments, and maybe speak to the inspiration behind the concept?

Charlie Todd: I created The Mp3 Experiment in 2004, which was when the iPod was really becoming pervasive in New York City. I remember sitting on the subway and noticing that almost everyone on the car had white earbuds. That made me think, wouldn’t it be cool if everyone was listening to the same music? That if we all had a shared soundtrack in our ears? That led me to develop the first Mp3 Experiment in December of 2004 with composer Tyler Walker.We took that idea of a shared soundtrack and added instructions from a narrator, making it an interactive experience.

That first year some people participated by burning the mp3 file to a Discman. We’ve come along way from those early days to the smartphone app we use now. The first couple of experiments were small, with 100-200 people involved, but we’ve grown over the years and now attract thousands of people. It makes me so happy to watch a crowd of 3,000 people participating in the same fun, ridiculous event.

SK: How has Make Music New York fit into the history of the Mp3 Experiments?

CT: Over the past fifteen years we’ve had partnerships with lots of great cultural institutions like River to River, the Brooklyn Beat Festival, and Governors Island. We like to partner with festivals to attract a new audience and bring the event to new places. Last year was our first partnership with MMNY, and we’re thrilled to be working with them again this year.

Traditionally the Mp3 Experiment has been a mostly silent event. It’s a massive crowd of people blending in to the real world, surprising and delighting others as they carry out secret instructions from their headphones. Working with Make Music New York has inspired us to make a bit more noise. Last year in Battery Park we distributed 3,000 “Boomwhackers” to our participants and had them play a song together. This year we have another surprise musical prop that we’ll be distributing.

SK: Make Music New York is all about uniting New Yorkers in our shared social spaces through the power of music, and the Harbor View Lawn of the Brooklyn Bridge Park is a beautiful example of a shared social space. How is the program integrated into the park itself?

CT: We are really excited to be working with Brooklyn Bridge Park this year, thanks to MMNY. It’s an amazing space, and we’ve designed the event specifically with it in mind. We’ll be using the entirety of Pier 1, with our participants spread out all over it, blending in with everyone else at first, and then congregating together for a big musical celebration. The park has such incredible views. It’s going to be an awesome backdrop for our fun.

SK: What are you most looking forward to in this incarnation of the Mp3 Experiments?

CT: It’s sort of silly that an event that has been going on for 15 years is still called an “experiment”, but we try new things each year. That’s always what excites me the most when I’m writing the script. I love taking a big swing and crafting something ambitious for our crowd to carry out. It doesn’t always work out like we expect, but it’s always fun. We’ve learned so much over the years about crowds and how they work together. We’ll be including some classic bits that are guaranteed to bring lots of smiles, and we’re pushing boundaries and trying new things as well.

SK: And, one final question: how can Make Music New York fans enjoy the program and what should they expect?

CT: Head to for the full participation details. The event is free and open to people of all ages. You’ll need to download our app to your phone to get the audio file and synchronize playback, and there will be instructions on what to wear and what to bring (a few simple household props.) The full details won’t be posted until the week of the event. If you join our email list, you’ll be the first to know when the details are out.

Hot off the Press! More info about Make Music New York

Look out! We have a new press release out in preparation for June 21st and Make Music New York. Wondering what we have to say? Here are some highlights:

“Completely different from a typical music festival, [Make Music New York] celebrates and promotes the natural music maker in all of us, regardless of ability. Reimagining their cities and towns as stages, every kind of musician – from bucket drummers and opera singers to hip-hop artists and marching bands – pours onto streets, parks, plazas, porches, rooftops, gardens and elsewhere to celebrate, create and share their music with friends, neighbors and strangers.

All Make Music New York events are free and open to the public. Participants who wish to perform, or to host musical events, may register at A full schedule of events will be posted on the website in early June.

About Make Music New York

Now entering its 12th year, Make Music New York (MMNY) is a unique festival of 1,000+ free concerts in public spaces throughout the five boroughs of New York City, all on June 21, the first day of summer and longest day of the year. MMNY takes place with similar festivities in 800 cities around the world – a global celebration of music-making. For more information, please visit”

You can read the full press release here for more info!


Twilight ​Chorus ​(for ​H​umans) – Make Music New York Special Project

It’s that time of season where we like to feature each of our Special Projects so that you, the Make Music New York community, can have a better understanding of the many great ways to enjoy our music celebrations on Thursday, June 21st (mark your calendar!). Look for regular blog posts outlining events across neighborhoods and boroughs, featuring amazing and engaging musicians from the New York area.

This week, Make Music New York’s Executive Director, James Burke, spoke with composer ​Pete M. Wyer​ about 2018 Make Music New York’s​ special project “Twilight ​Chorus ​(for ​H​umans).”


James Burke: Hi Pete! I’m thrilled to be presenting your latest special project “Twilight (for humans)” as part of this summer’s Make Music New York on June 21st. I know that you have worked with MMNY in the past as well. Can you share with our fans some of your history with the festival?

Pete Wyer: In 2014 I created a setting of Dylan Thomas’s poem ​”​And Death Shall Have No Dominion​”​ for a headphone​d​ choir. The idea was that singers would each have a specially created app which synchronized their device to an atomic clock and at exactly 11.00am on June 21st it would start playing a backing track ​from which ​singers could choose soprano, alto, tenor or bass ​parts ​or ​play along with an​ instruments. People began singing wherever they were in N​ew York City​ and began walking converging routes to an assembly point at Rockefeller Park​.​ ​S​o a soprano walking down one street might find she was in sync and in harmony with a tenor in the next street. It started out as individuals​ and ​small groups​ ​and ended up with a full choir and band, ​at which time ​everyone took off the​ir​ headphones and all sang together.



JB: Back to “Twilight ​Chorus ​(for ​H​umans),” can you explain the program for our followers and speak to the inspiration behind the concept?

Pete: I have always been strongly influenced by birds​ong​ at dawn and at dusk. Not only the sound​, ​but the spatiality​ as well.​ ​I​t’s an incredible experience in spring to walk through parkland or woodland at dawn and listen to the ever shifting kaleidoscope of sound as you move​. In​ my native England​, ​this is mostly blackbirds, robins, chaffinches, goldfinches, wrens, song thrushes and in more recent times, parakeets.

In 2016 I made a piece for WNYC’s ​”​New Sounds Liv​e” at the Winter Garden which was inspired by ​MIT ​Professor Shigeru Miyagawa’s​ ​hypothesis that human speech is evolved from birdsong. In that piece, ​en​titled ​”​Song of the Human​,”​ I used the pitch, rhythm, tone and dynamic of human speech as a start point. With ​”​Twilight Chorus (for Humans)​,​” I have taken recordings of birdsong, slowed them down and transcribed them for singers. ​During the​ performance​, ​the singers ​will be​ dispersed across an area of Brooklyn Botanical Garden, again synchronized via an app. The audience are invited to experience the piece by moving between the voices – there​ is​ no single version of the piece​ and ​each person’s experience will be unique to them. The piece slowly evolves and brings the singers together at the end with more identifiably ​”​human​”​ music.


JB: How can Make Music New York fans enjoy the program and what should they expect?

​Pete: T​he piece will be a unique experience​ for performers and spectators alike. ​I​t begins with sixteen singers spread out, singing simultaneous solos that are transcribed from birdsong​. ​That’s a long way from a Bach chorale! ​B​ut ​it ​ends in a more intimate place with singers gathered together. I always hope my pieces in some way move people toward a deeper connection to each other​ and​ to nature​.​ ​And​ if it makes them smile or touches them in some way, I’m happy.

Special Project – Live At The Archway!

It’s that time of year where we want to feature each of our Special Projects so that you, the Make Music New York community, can have a better understanding of the many great ways to enjoy Make Music New York on Thursday, June 21st (mark your calendar!). Look for regular blog posts outlining events across neighborhoods and boroughs, featuring amazing and engaging musicians from the New York area.

Make Music New York’s Executive Director, James Burke, is back! This week he spoke with ​Clara Schuhmacher from the DUMBO Improvement District about partnering on a special project for the popular “Live At The Archway” series​.


James Burke: Hi Clara, thanks for joining me!  Make Music New York has a long history of activating special projects in the DUMBO neighborhood in partnership with the DUMBO Improvement District. Perhaps you could share how the relationship began?

Clara: We’re always down to do crazy and amazing things in Dumbo, and especially in the Archway, which is an epic public space in an epic city (no, we’re not biased or anything). So when an interesting project comes our way, we’re game – and MMNY always has interesting projects!

We were first connected to MMNY in 2011, when Nick Franglen proposed playing a 24-hour-duet with the Manhattan Bridge and its cyclists (he played Theremin). Two years later, MMNY helped us turn the Archway into a giant string instrument, for the premiere of a piece by Eli Keszler featuring So Percussion. Those two projects have lived on as office legends, but there have been many other wonderful projects, both in summer and in winter.

It’s been great fun working together from the Dumbo perspective. And of course my personal connection to MMNY runs deep. My brother was one of the original volunteers, and I got looped in organizing Bushwick when I first moved to Brooklyn. Fast forward to 2013, when I joined the organization as Director of Operations for three festivals. And now here we are, continuing to work together to make magic happen in public spaces. I love how New York works this way.


JB: Live At The Archway provides such a cool vibe for the community to enjoy live music. What is your philosophy in curating the space and celebrating the community?

Clara: Thanks James, appreciate the kind words! One of my favorite things about my job is that I get to spend most of my days out and about, chatting one-on-one with retailers, business owners, artists, residents – everyone who touches the neighborhood in some way. It’s the best way to get direct insight and feedback into what the neighborhood needs and desires. A lot of my curation comes down to gut. I know this place, it’s my place now too, and I trust my instincts on what works and what doesn’t work.

What’s fun – but also challenging – about curating Live at the Archway is the diversity of the audience: all ages, all kinds of relationship to the neighborhood and myriad musical tastes. It’s always a balance, thinking through acts who will offer something to such an audience. Of course, I can’t appeal to everyone every week, which is why the season is so eclectic–my core audience comes back week after week, and they know that if they’re not super into an act one week, chances are the next week will be their favorite. And then there’s the practical side: the Archway is massive, and acoustics challenging. I’m looking for acts who will sound beautiful in the space, and who are dynamic performers, have that extra bit of stage flair, and can hold the “room.”

What really makes #LiveAtTheArchway a celebration of community, however, is that it’s not just a concert series. It’s music, it’s visual art, it’s spectacle, it’s tech. We build a pop-up gallery on site every week, show the work of a different DUMBO artist inside, and lead the audience in a community art project on the outside. We feature a different creative company from the neighborhood weekly as well, and invite them to bring their work out into the public, test it, show it off. And of course, we program a lot of DUMBO musicians too.


JB: We’re excited to be partnering with you to present Natalia Clavier as part of our June 21st music celebrations. How would you describe her music to Make Music fans? What can Make Music New York expect of the show?

Clara: The question all musicians dread! I’m not sure if Natalia would agree, but to me her music feels very tango electronica, without being tango. (Full disclosure: I’m Argentine and love this kind of stuff.) It’s got great beats, it’s a little hip hop, it’s a little jazz, she sings in Spanish and in English. Really: it’s all chill, summery vibes – perfect for sitting in the Archway with a drink on the longest day of summer! Bring a picnic, get a drink from our Archway bar, and enjoy. Show is early, 6:15pm. And if Argentina wins their World Cup that day, get ready for some cheering too! 😉


Why We Love Libraries

We at Make Music New York have a deep appreciation for libraries and the many benefits they provide their community. They bring a focus on learning and face-to-face interaction, and provide a center in which a neighborhood or community can ground itself. They provide means for low-income young adults and seniors alike to access the internet.

Overall, public libraries provide services, access to the arts for all, and a space that few other community centers provide, all in the name of a love and respect for the arts. As we mentioned in a previous blog post, we are proud to partner with public libraries throughout the five boroughs to bring unique performances to the communities supported by those libraries.

Image courtesy of Curbed

100+ BPM

On of the more notable library activations for Make Music New York came back in 2014, on the front steps of the Brooklyn Public Library. NPR commissioned a piece from Sunny Jain, founder of Brooklyn-based band Red Baraat, “that would kick off the season in massive, marching-band style.” Jain wrote 100+ BPM, a reference both to the tempo of the piece and to the core goal of the performance: “Brooklyn Public Music.”

All brass players and percussionists were welcome to participate, and almost 350 musicians came out to perform the piece! Professional drum lines, community marching bands, jazz musicians, samba musicians, and tons of amateur musicians came out to play! With hours of fun music-making and positivity, 100+ BPM ended a successful event for NPR, BPL, and Make Music New York.

NPR even put together a video recap of the event:


Performing at a library

Not all library events have to be that extensive! 100+ BPM brought a huge group of people together, but library communities come in all shapes and sizes – so do their events! We’re always looking for great ideas for library performances; they can be as small as solo acts, or involve an entire community.

We’re always looking for more performers – if you feel strongly about performing at your local library, we can help make that happen. Register for Make Music New York 2018 here – once you’ve create your profile, peruse the list of venues for that library!

Don’t see it there? Reach out to us at and we can help register them as a venue to make that performance happen! We want libraries to celebrate music in their communities with artists who live and breathe those communities.

And, as always, stay tuned to this blog for all the newest Make Music New York information!


Featuring Some of our Favorite Venues!

One of the aspects of Make Music New York that gets us most excited is its effect on communities throughout New York.

With the opportunity to select the performers and audiences they would like to attract, host venues have the ability to put on a unique event tailored to the audiences who experience it. Venues can choose between the many artists who have registered to perform at Make Music New York 2018 to engage their neighborhoods as they see fit.

Why is this possible with Make Music New York? Our network of partnerships with artists across all five boroughs is available to host venues, and vice versa!

Our mission is to allow musicians of any genre, skill-level, or demographic to perform – we hope to sign up diverse and cool venues so that each artist and venue partnership can reach the audiences they hope to reach.

If you’re wondering how to register as a performer or as a venue, look no further than the “register” tab on the main menu of our website,!

We wanted to feature a few of the coolest types of venues from previous Make Music New York festivals to show the different kinds of locations that have participated. Maybe one of these venues will spark the inspiration to host your own performance for Make Music New York 2018!

Uptown Grand Central Community Plaza

Grand Central Community Plaza Performance

One of our favorite venues for both summer and winter festivals, the Uptown Grand Central Community plaza has hosted a multitude of events from the Ella Fitzgerald Piano Bar to the Solstice Soul train. Uptown under the Metro North train tracks, this plaza is a shining example of a community space that brings East-Harlemites (and other New Yorkers!) together in celebration of Music.

Community plaza shows are awesome simply because they take place in public spaces where communities live and interact on a day to day basis. New York has so many wonderful open spaces throughout the city, and we’d love nothing more than to fill each one up with performances on Make Music day.


Battery Park

Moving downtown, Battery Park has played host to several unique programs. One such notable program from 2017 was the Mp3 Experiment Number Fourteen produced by Improv Everywhere in partnership with Make Music New York.

The Mp3 Experiments are free, open-to-the-public participatory audio adventures where attendees carry out secret instructions in public spaces, often to hilarious results! Experiment Number Fourteen featured the use of Boomwhackers – lightweight percussion tubes tuned to musical pitches. The park provides a wonderful open atmosphere as well as access to audiences beyond those attending for Make Music New York. Random passers-by get to experience the performances as well!


New York Public Libraries

Libraries are a perennial fixture in the Make Music New York lineup. So much so, that you can expect a more detailed post about Library venue options coming soon! Libraries represent havens of support for the arts, and their goals and missions align closely with ours. We have programs at libraries throughout the five boroughs, and your neighborhood library is likely involved!

And if it isn’t, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have your local library host performances as well? If you have a library in mind, reach out to them (or us!) and see if it’s something they’d be willing to do! Previous shows include the Improvisational Composer’s Ensemble at NYPL – Tompkins Square, Thunder and Sunshine at NYPL – Jerome Park, and Echoes of Antiquity at BPL – Borough Park.


Greene Street, between Grand & Broome

Some of the most exciting shows at Make Music New York are the ones that seem to spring up from the city itself! Concertos for Buildings takes over an entire Soho block as hollow, cast-iron facades serve as resonant instruments for performing percussionists. This recurring program has expanded over the years to feature multiple concertos from a variety of performers, ranging from professionals to students.

The street corner literally serves as a vehicle for music – in a city that at many times feels as if it’s a part of its music, Concertos for Buildings makes that metaphor a reality!


Remember, if you’re a musician looking for a place to play – or if you have a garden, restaurant, sidewalk, or other outdoor space and want to host a show – you can sign up and find the perfect match for your Make Music New York concert. It’s easy and it’s free!

Have any other questions? Please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Make Music New York Presents Mass Appeal Concerts!

For the thirteenth consecutive year, Make Music New York is proud to announce the return of our signature concert series Mass Appeal. Mass Appeal concerts embody the essence of what Make Music New York is about – they gather musicians of all skill levels with an interest in a particular instrument to premier locations across the city to perform together.

Anyone can perform, from polished professionals to the amateur and curious – just grab your instrument and get playing! From the rusty harmonica player to the professional cellist, all are welcome to join these epic events, all taking place outdoors on June 21st.


Mass Appeal Concerts are in the works featuring:


  • Guitars
  • Bucket Drumming
  • French Horns
  • Harmonicas
  • Mandolins
  • Recorders
  • Ukuleles
  • And many more!

We’re still looking for Project Managers for many of these concerts! If you would like to run a Mass Appeal Concert for a particular instrument, email us at with “Mass Appeal” in the subject line.

Most importantly, if you have a new idea for a Mass Appeal Concert that you don’t see on this list, reach out to us as well! We always welcome new concert ideas and want to turn your dream into a reality.

Alternatively, if you are looking to perform at a Mass Appeal, be sure to check out our previous post detailing how to sign up as an artist. And, as always, if you have any questions, let us know by sending an email to

Look out for more information on Mass Appeal Concerts in the future, and stay tuned to this blog as we’ll be giving you updates about host venues, special projects, performers, and everything else related to Make Music New York 2019.

Get Excited For Make Music New York 2019!

Though the weather hasn’t quite warmed up yet, days are getting longer and spring is just around the corner. What does this mean?

It’s time to start thinking about Make Music New York 2019!

As you may or may not know, Make Music New York is the largest single-day festival in New York City. Every year, over 5,000 musicians perform 1,000+ concerts at over 400 unique venues. We strive to celebrate the musician in all of us, connect New Yorkers to their communities and with each other, bring bold new artistic creations to life, unite diverse communities in a spirit of celebration, and energize the shared social spaces that make NYC a cultural capital.

The Make Music New York team is kicking it into high gear securing permits, developing special projects, and planning logistics for the big day (June 21st, mark your calendars!). But, while we do our job, you have an even more important role in making this year’s festival a success – signing up as a venue, a performer, or both!

It’s the artists and venues throughout the city that bring people together to celebrate music and community. You guys are the ones who inspire, and who make this wonderful day possible.

And so, now begins our push to sign up as many venues and artists as possible!

Playing piano for the Make Music NY Festival

For Venues

There are all sorts of ways to host a performance for Make Music New York. Whether you are an individual with an inspired idea for a show you’d like to see, a community organization looking to engage and energize your neighborhood, or a business looking to host, you are the foundation of Make Music New York.

To sign up as a host venue, go to our website (LINKED HERE) and click on “summer registration.” You will be guided through the process from there! Once you have registered, you can either search out artists in our system that you want to perform at your venue, or you can relax and let artists come to you with requests to perform.

Either way, once you have registered, let us handle licenses, insurance, and permits so that you can focus your efforts on giving back to your community through amazing music.

Fans getting excited at Make Music NY

For Artists

Artists provide the magic for Make Music New York. They connect with communities and neighborhoods on an individual and personal level, and are what make this festival special. Our dream is to have as many people perform as possible – anyone, regardless of skill level, genre, age, or demographic is welcomed to do so.

To sign up as a performer, go to our website (LINKED HERE) and click on “summer registration.” Similarly to registering as a venue, you will be guided through the process from there. Once registered, look around for venues at which you’d love to perform! We’ll have all sorts of venues, whether you are looking for a park, something in your neighborhood, or a place to support your style of music.

The more venues and performers that sign up, the more successful the festival will be – we’ll be able to engage more communities, more neighborhoods, and more people through the beauty of music.

So, even if you don’t have a place to host or don’t want to perform yourself, tell your friends! Let them know about us – Make Music New York is a great opportunity to grow a fan base as an artist, or to reach more people and grow awareness of a venue. At the end of the day, it’s the people of New York City make this festival possible, and its their (and our!) music we celebrate.

Lastly, are you interested in our special programs for this year? Stay tuned, because we’ll begin posting previews for select events in the next few weeks. We’re going to have some really great programs this year – if you haven’t already, subscribe to our email newsletter and follow us on social media for updates on all things Make Music New York!

2014 MMNY Block Parties!

New School Jazz Students

Looking to party in your neighborhood during Make Music New York this year? Chances are there is a block party nearby on Saturday June 21st. Check out all 14 block parties happening this year all over the five boroughs below!

In Brooklyn


Warper Party & Silent Barn Block Party

Cameo Gallery

Grand Street and Lorimer Street Block Party

Grand Street and Leonard Street Block Party II


In Manhattan 

Afro Asian Block Party

Turtle Bay Music School

“In (Key)” at Cornelia Street Cafe

Joe’s Pub

Indonesian Consulate

SGI-USA Block Party

Positively 8th St – Fifth Ave Stage

Positively 8th St – MacDougal Stage


In Queens

Astoria Music and Arts in Athens Triangle

Spaceworks Long Island City Block Party

Queens Council on the Arts



New Poster for MMNY 2014!

Have you noticed that the Make Music New York website has a snazzy new look?

Introducing the 2014 Make Music New York poster, designed by illustrator Josh Gosfield, longtime art director of New York Magazine and author of “The Art of Doing”.


Josh Gosfield has won numerous awards for the illustrations and photographs he has produced for clients including The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Esquire, Levi’s, Miramax, Sony and many others. But — it was Gosfield’s artwork for the Waterfront Blues Festival that caught MMNY President Aaron Friedman’s eye. “Josh’s design for the Waterfront Blues Festival looks like it was hand-painted on the side of a derelict building,” said Aaron. “He captures this outdoor, homemade look so well, and since MMNY concerts fit the same mold, I knew he’d be able to capture the spirit of our celebration too.” The rest, as they say, is history.

This year’s poster artwork contains classic elements of Make Music New York, including Punk Island, Rhythm on Rikers, and some of our infamous Mass Appeal events. Take a look and then head over to our registration site to sign up for MMNY 2014 for your chance to be immortalized on next year’s poster!