We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. Accept | Find out more



Spanning 75 years with the Golden Gate Bridge; female mountain guides climb the ranks in Nepal; L.A. drivers debut a symphony for horns; getting a kick out of three-sided soccer in Bilbao


Angelenos turn rush-hour traffic into a citywide symphony

Barry Belkin parks in front of his home in L.A.’s Mar Vista neighborhood, clutches his iPhone and waits. At exactly 6 p.m., he hits play and commences honking the horn of his 2009 Audi in time with a five-minute-long musical score. In a parking garage at UCLA, Hilary White joins in with a series of short honks, then a long one, on her 2005 Subaru. Meanwhile, Shamim Momin taps her horn while navigating her way through traffic in Atwater Village.

These are just three of the 1,000 Los Angeles drivers who volunteered to participate in a countywide car-horn symphony. The piece, which took months to arrange, is the brainchild of New York artist Zefrey Throwell. Mystified by the isolation of car-centric life in L.A., Throwell set out to bring drivers together to “create a symphony that is a song of Los Angeles, played by Angelenos, on the instrument of their city,” he says.

Throwell used various media outlets to recruit the participants, who, after emailing him their car make and model, were assigned an MP3 recording to follow based on the pitch of their horn. “I split the tones into five different parts,” he says. “The Honda Civic, for example, has a piercing, shrill high end.”

On the day of the performance, as rush hour tightened its grip on the county, Throwell parked his Chevy Malibu rental on a hilltop near Dodger Stadium and honked the first note. Drivers across town followed their assigned parts, bringing the collective composition to life. “My symphony allowed a large number of strangers to connect on both a sonic and conceptual level,” he says.

One of those strangers, as it turned out, was none other than Barack Obama. An Obama aide confirmed to Throwell that, while driving through Santa Monica, the presidential motorcade joined in. “He’s got a large custom Cadillac,” Throwell says, “so I assigned him the lowest note.” —NICOLE PAJER

One Response to “Dispatches”

  1. Allyson Johnson Says:
    May 2nd, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    3 sisters adventure trekking led our party of three on the annapurna circuit last fall – When fog closed the airport at our trek’s endpoint we traveled by jeep until where the road was washed out, hiked across the torrent and two hours further to the next town, caught a local bus to the next large twon, where the 3 sisters’ SUV retrieved us and took us back to start. Our guide was never at a loss. Thanks, Bena!

Leave your comments