The love of music and the joy of performance can unite communities like nothing else. And, on June 21, 2016, music pros and beginners alike gathered in 700 cities across 120 countries to celebrate Make Music Day. From urban street corners to gallery loading docks and from parks to plazas, musicians and vocalists transcended language, age and expertise to find common ground by creating music together.

Continuing the Fete de la Musique tradition that started in France 34 years ago, HARMAN Street Studio pop-ups brought producers, instruments, and recording and playback setups to Bangalore, Budapest, Munich, Tel Aviv, New York and Los Angeles.

In the burgeoning Downtown Los Angeles Arts District, producer, engineer and musician Griffin Rodriguez (Beirut, Modest Mouse, Califone) layered and looped tracks on the spot, attracting dozens of locals who added hip-hop verses, yelps, guitar, piano, synthesizer, percussion and even the thump of skateboards on the sidewalk. “With the software available today, I was easily able to compose and arrange out on the street,” said Griffin. “And, the JBL LSR305 monitors we used were portable enough to set up quickly and provided a clear, full-powered sound that was perfect for exterior use.”

Outside of Art Share L.A., a vibrant exhibition and artist loft center, acclaimed writer, actor and musician Dahlak joined Rodriguez to lay down the initial rhythms and instrumentation for each of several tracks, then served as the MC, encouraging passersby to join the jam. In the spirit of the day, absolute strangers—some leaving work, others heading for classes, pros who heard rumors of the pop-up studio and a few who drove by and were too curious not to stop, spontaneously shared their musical instincts and inspirations. Fannie Mayfield, an elderly resident of the neighborhood, strode up with a broad smile and a twinkle in her eye and remarked, “My, my, isn’t this just about the best way to spend an afternoon?”

Helping to pack up the instruments and recording gear as Make Music Day came to an close, Dahlak said, “We really had some great moments today, when the people of the community really came together—and so did the music!”

Was there a Make Music Day event in your neighborhood? Share the highlights in the comments.

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