By Valerie Gladstone
THE composer Laurie Anderson ran into her brother Chris Anderson, an investment specialist, on a recent visit to the Winter Garden. She was there to appraise the space for her contribution to ''Sonic Garden,'' a sound installation by four artists commissioned by the World Financial Center Arts and Events Program and the public-arts presenter Creative Time.
'' 'Please don't do anything elegiac,' he begged me,'' Ms. Anderson said. ' ''We have to work here.' ''
Taking his request to heart, she created a 10-minute piece for violin that she characterized as ''a simple, beautiful melody that would simply color the air.''
Along with similarly brief works by the musicians David Byrne and Marina Rosenfeld and the sound designer Ben Rubin, Ms. Anderson's ''String'' will be played in a continuous loop in the Winter Garden for six weeks, starting on Thursday.
''We're offering an alternative to the ubiquitous visual reminders of Sept. 11,'' said Anne Pasternak, the executive director of Creative Time, ''and celebrating the renewed vitality of Lower Manhattan.''
Hoping to cheer workers returning to the area with his piece, ''I Love This Crowd,'' Mr. Byrne collected jokes told by some of the great Jewish comedians of the past, like Henny Youngman and Buddy Hackett. ''They represent the typical New York sense of humor,'' he said. For balance, he explained, he added bird songs so that people would feel as if ''they were in the country.''
When Ms. Rosenfeld realized that the space was reverberant, what sound engineers call ''wet,'' she imagined a pond, reflective surfaces and the idea of self-reflection. Naming her contribution ''Cephissus Landscape,'' after the water Narcissus gazed into, she evokes nature, electronically reproducing the sound of pebbles skittering across a pond's surface.
In contrast, Mr. Rubin found inspiration for his ''Open Outcry'' in the recorded raucous shouts and calls of commodities traders at the nearby New York Mercantile Exchange. ''I just love the mysterious, crazy sound,'' he said.