Michael Kiley wrote a song that you can only hear in Rittenhouse Square. You don’t need a home with the posh address to play it — just an iPhone. Kiley apologizes in advance for the exclusivity.
After all, this is the man who creates music under the name “The Mural and The Mint” — a Philadelphia- focused comment on art versus commerce, he says.
“The Empty Air: A Rittenhouse Square Sound Walk” weaves together lyrics and instruments with the sounds of Rittenhouse itself. Kiley, who’s a composer and sound designer for several local theater and dance companies, spent a year recording rustling leaves, church bells, chirping birds, footfalls, car honks and snippets of conversation before blending them into the 6-minute composition.
“The recording is manipulated, looped, distorted. It’s like a giant remix project,” he says.
Next he teamed up with P'unk Avenue in South Philly to turn that project into an iPhone app, downloadable for 99 cents.
The app tracks your phone’s GPS, playing different pieces of the song depending on where you are in the park. When you hit the center, you’ll hear the whole thing.
“I’m hoping this will be the first in a series,” Kiley says. “I picked Rittenhouse because it’s the most widely used public space in Philly — I’m trying to gain an audience, then eventually I’ll do this in areas of town that could benefit from new foot traffic.”
“Like any good work of public art,” he adds,” “I hope that this can affect change.”