You don’t have to be a musician to make music using the San Diego Sound Booths.
The new interactive public art pieces include a panel of 16 buttons, each producing a unique digital sound. There are different types of beats (from hip hop to electronic and R&B), various symphonic sounds and a handful of city noises – like sounds from the beach and planes flying over downtown San Diego.
Passersby are invited to walk up to the booths, push the buttons and make their own impromptu musical compositions. The booths are located at the Jacobs Music Center, the downtown Central Library and the Balboa Park Visitors Center. A fourth one will travel to various community centers through the month of January.
“You can find a rhythm that you like and then you can use symphonic sounds and really kind of express how you’re feeling,” said Brandon Steppe, director and founder of David’s Harp Foundation. He gave me a quick demo of one of the sounds booths by creating a catchy two-minute hip-hop song on the spot.
The sound booths are a collaboration between the San Diego Symphony and the David’s Harp Foundation, a nonprofit that works with at-risk and homeless youth by providing free music education and hands-on audio engineering and multimedia production classes. The kids in the program produced the music and sounds for the booths.
Steppe said he was excited when the symphony reached out to his small East Village nonprofit, which serves about 200 kids a year. He said it gave the kids in his program a chance to work on an important project and give back to the community.