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Metropolitan melodies: The audiophile’s guide to New York City

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The Big Apple isn’t without its own soundtrack: The hum of millions in motion, the clap of dress shoes and high-heels on sidewalks, staccato beeps of car horns and the occasional jazzy melody of a street performance.

But are these sounds enough to preserve the beauty of the New York experience in your mind? Can a stray cab horn or a fire engine siren truly transport you back to summer day on Park Ave., or are we all doomed to dim recollections of the greatest city on Earth?

It’s no secret that sounds play a role in our memory of events and places, but in 2011, a study at the Academy of Finland took it a step further, concluding that listening to music can heighten brain activity, leading to enhanced recall. That means, adding some mellifluous context to your next New York adventure could help you create more detailed and vivid memories.

Now, technically, you could just throw on your favorite playlist and hope to capture New York in the lyrics of a song you may stop listening to in six months.

But you may be better off opting for something more permanent and more fitting for the occasion something that would challenge your musical tastes and bring a more cinematic and powerful feel to the city.

Yes, that “something” is Classical music.

With the right Classical playlist (this is important; we aren’t talking about boring oldies here) customized for the quintessential New York itinerary, you can memorialize your first New York jaunt or see your home city in a totally new way.

Check out the following location-composition combos to get started:

1. Grand Central Main Concourse

In The Hall of the Mountain King, Edvard Grieg

Most New York City journeys start in Grand Central Station, one of the most iconic and awe-inspiring structures in the world. When empty, Grand Central’s Main Concourse looks like a grand ballroom, and when full, it’s a bustling hub of activity. The aesthetic properties and transient guests of Grand Central make it the perfect setting for In The Hall of the Mountain King, composed by Edvard Grieg, a full-bodied yet mysterious arrangement that will fill your mind with intrigue.

2. Central Park’s Bow Bridge

The Blue Danube Waltz, Johann Strauss II

Central Park is arguably New York City’s main attraction, and the Bow Bridge is its crown jewel. Perfect for engagement photos and climatic scenes in romantic comedies, the Bow Bridge oozes intimacy and demands a song to match. Strauss’ The Blue Danube Waltz, provides a loving, spring-time quality that will have you stepping along the bridge’s artful planks in three-quarter time.

3. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Preludio, Partita in E Major, Johann Sebastian Bach

The Met contains countless pieces of priceless art, gathered from across the globe. While you may think these works should be observed under the spell of a mellow, contemplative track, true art fans would do well to use music to enter the artist’s mind. Bach’s Preludio features a frenetic yet measured violin melody that feels like creative process a wild barrage of synapses firing in the brain. Preludio the perfect theme for a day spent admiring some of the world’s finest artwork.

4. Times Square

Nocturne in E-Flat Major, Opus 9, No. 2, Frdric Chopin

If you’ve never been to New York, Times Square entrances you; if you live in New York, Times Square disgusts you. Love it or hate it, though, the reasoning is always the same: There’s just so much happening. That’s why Times Square-goers should slow down the pace of things with a low-key arrangement from Chopin. Nocturne in E-Flat Major will give the world the appearance of slow motion, adding fluidity and calm to New York’s busiest destination.

5. Washington Square Park

String Quartet in E Major, Luigi Boccherini

Visitors will descend upon Washington Square Park to admire the iconic marble triumphal arch, but they’ll also see an incredible cross-section of New York’s population, from families, to NYU students, to East Village punk-rockers, to philharmonic hopefuls. To put all of Washington Square Park’s diversity into ironic context, check out Boccherini’s String Quartet in E Major, an arrangement often reserved for uppity and homogenous gatherings.

6. Prince Street, SoHo

Concerto for Strings, Antonio Vivaldi

Despite its impressive skyline, New York architectural beauty goes far beyond skyscrapers, and there’s perhaps no greater place to admire New York’s historic Cast Iron architecture than Prince Street in SoHo. Located at the heart of the city, SoHo offers a unique, neighborhood-y feel, and has recently become the home of chic retailers. When walking along the bustling Prince Street, feel the energy while listening to Vivaldi’s upbeat Concerto for Strings, and while you’re at it, check a new set of headphones at Sennheiser’s brand new pop-up shop.

7. The Oculus at Westfield World Trade Center

The Planets, Op. 32, Gustav Holst

New York’s newest landmark is The Oculus, an ultra-modern structure that resembles and enormous prehistoric ribcage. What’s more, located in “the belly” of The Oculus is a brand new, state-of-the-art shopping center, featuring the Sennheiser Soundscape, an immersive flagship audio experience. The Oculus has quickly become a must-see location, and all of its futuristic glory is best enjoyed with Holst’s The Planets in the background.

8. The Statue of Liberty Ferry

Ride of the Valkyries, Richard Wagner

Okay, let’s be honest: The Statue of Liberty may be at the top of your NYC bucket list, but no one looks forward to the ferry ride that precedes it. To spice up the trek to Lady Liberty, stand on the bow of the ferry and listen to Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries it’ll add a sense of purpose to your anticipation and make you feel like you’re about to conquer Liberty Island.

8b. The Statue of Liberty

Moonlight Sonata, Ludwig van Beethoven

Once you’ve finally reached the Statue of Liberty, switch up the track so that you can appreciate the symbol of hope that the monument has become. Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata is a contemplative arrangement shrouded in a feeling of unknowing, much like the feelings of those who saw Lady Liberty as a new and uncertain beginning.

9. The Brooklyn Bridge

Spem in Alium, Thomas Tallis

The Brooklyn Bridge is a signature New York City landmark that offers visitors panoramic views of Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and the East River below. As you walk along the bridge’s pedestrian path, admiring the architectural beauty and the vast cityscapes that surround you, tune-in to Tallis’ Spem in Alium, a powerful 40-voice motet with ethereal and heavenly composition that will help you grip the magnitude of the city and your place in the world.

10. On your cab ride home

Claire de Lune, Claude Debussy

At the end of your long day, jump in a taxi and watch as the city lights up in salutation. From marquee bulbs on Broadway, to the towering colors of the Empire State Building, you’ll see that while your day may be over, the city is just coming to life. To fully enjoy such effervescent beauty, turn on Debussy’s smooth and meandering Claire de Lune (French for “light of the moon”) and let the city slowly transform itself outside your window.

How New York City becomes a magical place

If you’re ready to experience a new side of New York City, make sure you have the proper soundtrack and equipment for the job. Start by ditching your low-quality headphones and letting messy webs of wire stand in your way.

For a high-fidelity listening experience that doesn’t need wires, Sennheiser has you covered. Offering two flagship models, the full-size new PXC 550 travel headphones and the iconic Momentum Wireless, Sennheiser packs Bluetooth wireless technology and NoiseGuard cancelation into stunningly designed headsets.

For more information, or to order your pair today, click here.

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