By Julie Shapiro
FINANCIAL DISTRICT — An orchestra of iPhones will descend on Wall Street Tuesday to create a never-before-heard symphony of electronic sounds.
Composer Aaron Siegel is encouraging as many people as possible to download his free music-making app and meet at the corner of Wall and Broad streets at 12:45 p.m. on Tuesday.
Everyone will start their apps, turn up their volume and unleash an array of digitally generated tones that will build to a climax and then fade away.
"The opportunity to be part of something like this, which is really unusual, changes the whole course of your day," said Siegel, 34, a Brooklyn resident. "I hope it's thought provoking."
Roughly 150 people had downloaded the app by Monday afternoon, but Siegel doesn't know how many will show up to the event, called GROUP, which is part of the River to River Festival. He's hoping for at least a few dozen "musicians," along with an audience of surprised onlookers.
"It's an interesting intersection of music and participatory culture," said Andy Horwitz, curator for the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, which runs River to River. "You make the music, not just listen to it."
Seigel has long been interested in getting people who don't consider themselves musicians to participate in the act of making music, but this is the first time he has used cellphones as a medium.
He got the idea after noticing how he and his wife would sit on opposite ends of the couch, absorbed in their own mobile devices rather than talking.
"This is a rare opportunity to use your phone to be part of something larger, as opposed to being further and further isolated," Siegel said.
Once someone downloads the free app, it will begin automatically generating a series of tones that change over time and differ from iPhone to iPhone. At 12:45 p.m., the tones will get louder and more intense, building to what Siegel calls an "Aha! moment." The symphony will last about 10 minutes.
"There are going to be a lot of people who are really confused," Siegel said. "I hope people stop and say, 'What is this?'"