- The LA Metro blasted classical music in one of its stations to deter people from hanging out there.
- But the composer said he wasn’t informed his music was being used and demanded Metro stop using it.
- The station switched the music and turned down the volume this week.
The Los Angeles Metro tried a new method of forcing unhoused people out of its stations: playing deafeningly loud classical music. But that came to an end when one composer was informed his work was being used as a deterrent.
Over the last few months, Metro authorities have used a variety of methods to force people out of its Westlake/MacArthur Park station, located next to a public park known for drug use, including installing bright lights and cameras and hiring “transit ambassadors” to monitor stations and trains.
But it faced pushback when news outlets reported that it was blasting music, including Barcelona-based composer Adrián Berenguer’s four-minute piece “Immaterial”, which it played on loop.
The music was played at an average of 83 decibels and peaked at 90 dB, the Times measured, which is as loud as a leaf blower and can damage hearing after a couple hours of exposure. (A Metro official insisted the music was never louder than 72 dB).
“I have not given any permission for my music to be used for these purposes,” Berenguer said in a Tuesday tweet in response to the Times story. “I believe that no form of art should be used to discourage or limit freedoms.”
—StreetsblogLA (@StreetsblogLA) March 9, 2023
One rider compared his experience in the station to the dystopian horror classic “A Clockwork Orange.”
—firstname.lastname@example.org (@calwatch) March 23, 2023
Berenguer tweeted on Thursday that Metro officials had agreed to stop playing his music.
The Westlake/MacArthur Park station played different classical music by long-dead composers, including Beethoven and Bach, at lower volumes on Thursday, L.A. Taco reported.
Metro authorities have identified the station, which more than 20,000 riders board trains daily, as a “hot spot” for crime. A Metro spokesperson told L.A. Taco that its efforts had reduced “graffiti, vandalism, loitering and trash/clean-up incidents” by half.
Like many other cities’ public transit systems, LA has seen its ridership decline significantly in recent years. At the same time, homeless encampments on Metro property have grown into the hundreds and deadly drug overdoses have surged. Serious crime, including rape and assault, lept 24% last year.