Twitter. Intellect, depth, poetry. Wait... that isn't what you think of first? Maybe not, but there is certainly something to be said for the art form of a well-crafted tweet. While most of us consider Twitter to be nothing but a venue for frivolous over-sharing, a closer look reveals it is much more than that. Twitter is used to connect people around the world. It is used for marketing and branding by everyone from major companies to small family owned businesses. It is used for social commentary and even for deep personal thoughts or confessions. Yes, like it or not, Twitter has become a part of the fabric of today's online society.
What would music sound like if it lived in this world? What if musician could only play in bursts of 140 notes at a time? Or a lyricist who can only set 140 characters of text
composers & music.
Let the Singing Singers
Paul Ayres was born in London, studied music at Oxford University, and now works freelance as a composer & arranger, choral conductor & musical director, and organist & accompanist. His compositions usually involve words – solo songs, choral pieces, music for theatre productions – and he is particularly interested in working with pre-existing music, from arrangements of folksongs, hymns, jazz standards and nursery rhymes to ‘re-compositions’ of classical works, as in Purcell’s Funeral Sentence, 4A Wreck and Messyah. New pieces have been commissioned by the BBC Singers, the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music, Concordia Youth Choir, The Esoterics, Texas Lutheran University, Wartburg College, Wheaton College and Alexandria Choral Society. Paul is the regular conductor of City Chorus and the choirs at London College of Music (University of West London), and he is the associate accompanist of Crouch End Festival Chorus. He has led many education workshops for children, played piano for improvised comedy shows and musical theatre, and has given solo organ recitals in the UK, Scandinavia, Europe, North America and Australia. Please visit to find out more.
About the Music:
The words to "Let the singing singers", from by Henry Carey's Chrononhotonthologos (1734), had been in my file of "texts to set to music one day" for quite a while - so when details of whateverandeveramen's #TwitterCommission project 2013 came along, I was delighted to find that (admittedly with punctuation removed) there were 140 characters. My musical challenge was then to compose a setting for choir, with 140 notes in each of the five vocal parts. I love Carey's over-the-top language, and his extremely florid way of saying just "sing" - and I've used this single word right at the end of the piece - exceeding the 140-limit, I realise. "So be it" was an English version of "Amen" used by English writers and composers at time of the Reformation, which is a pleasing extra link to the name of the performers.
Let the singing singers
With vocal voices most vociferous
In sweet vociferation out vociferize
Even sound itself
So be it as we have ordered
Obsessions from the Twittersphere and Confessions from the Blogosphere
Karen Siegel (@kjs6)
Composer Karen Siegel draws on her experience as a vocalist in her creation of innovative choral and vocal works. She was recently awarded first prize in the New York Virtuoso Singers 2013 Choral Composition Competition for her humorous a capella choral work from 2006, Confessions from the Blogosphere, which sets excerpts from online blogs. Sponge Squeezed Dry, her 2008 piece for mixed chorus and horn that sets an original text, was awarded the 2009 Starer Award for Composition at the City University of New York Graduate Center, where she is a PhD candidate. In June 2008 Karen was a winner of the Manhattan Choral Ensemble Commissioning Project Competition, which resulted in the work Saguaro, inspired by the desert landscape and history of Tucson, Arizona. Saguaro was recorded this year by C4: the Choral Composer/Conductor Collective (of which Karen is a founding member), and was released on the album Volume 1: Uncaged in June.
Karen is also active as a soprano, frequently performing her own works, and as a conductor. She is currently a PhD candidate in composition at the CUNY Graduate Center, where she studies with Tania León. Karen holds degrees from Yale (BA in psychology) and NYU Steinhardt (MM in composition), where she studied with Marc Antonio Consoli. Please visit her website—www.karensiegel.com—to hear selected recordings of Karen’s music, to purchase scores, and to find out about future performances. Karen lives in Hoboken, New Jersey with her husband and son.
About the Music:
In the few years after the premiere of Confessions from the Blogosphere in 2006, on-line communication blossomed and diversified. The arrival of Twitter was both powerful and ridiculous. The same tool is used to spread political movements and to inform the world what one had for breakfast, in brief spurts of 140 characters or less. Focusing on the ridiculous, Obsessions from the Twittersphere (2010) mocks the mass-distribution of the meaningless. Tweets about obsessions from strange to harmless are patched together in an unfolding dialogue between strangers.
Confessions from the Blogosphere is inspired by the comparatively old-fashioned realm of the on-line blog. Like a tweet, a blog post is inherently public. Unlike the twittersphere, however, the blogosphere often has an association with intimacy. Created in an intimate, comfortable space (at home, alone with one’s computer), it frequently contains highly personal thoughts once relegated to the old-fashioned diary. As I started reading blog entries that ranged from the banal to the bizarre, I was captivated by a unique kind of confession motivated more by humor than by guilt. The text to Confessions from the Blogosphere is composed entirely of quotes from these blogs. The quotes overlap and compete for attention, reflecting the context of fast-paced internet surfing in which they are read. Confessions from the Blogosphere was awarded first prize in the 2013 New York Virtuoso Singers Choral Composition Competition, and will be performed by the ensemble on March 30, 2014, at Merkin Hall in New York City.
Ryan Townsend Strand
Ryan Townsend Strand, 23, is a young composer and Tenor hailing from the Twin Cities, MN. Currently he is attending Northwestern University in Evanston, IL for a Master's in Voice & Opera. He studies with mezzo-soprano, Theresa Brancaccio. Strand has traveled the U.S.and internationally performing and sharing his passion for music. His most recent credits include Nerone in Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea and Al Joad in American composer Ricky Ian Gordon's, The Grapes of Wrath. As a composer, Strand focuses on the human voice as his main medium, stemming from his upbringing in the choral tradition of the Midwest. He currently sings with Dr. Donald Nally in the ensemble BCE of the Bienen School of Music, premiering new works of contemporary composers as well as performing early music. With his voice and through the voices of others, Strand aims to become a well-known name in the world of music.
About the Music:
When I first found out about the Twitter Commission, I was immediately drawn to the idea of using social media as the basis for a work. In our day and age, information is exchanged rapidly and forgotten just as quickly. Taking a short "tweet" and expanding it into a musical work was quite a challenge, but surprisingly there was a lot of emotion revealed in 140 characters or less. The piece #Red uses the passion found in the color to evoke feelings of longing, sensuality, and love. I was drawn to the tweet for its simplicity and for the abstract hashtag that the music now hinges upon. I am so thankful that whateverandeveramen. invited me to participate in this project and could not be more excited to hear the outcome.
For One Day
Joshua McHugh is a recent graduate of Temple University's Boyer College of Music and Dance, with a B.M in Music Education, Voice Concentration. He a driven musician, eager to teach and perform, and to spread the power and joy of music. He wants to provide a well rounded music education to his students, through the choral arts. Composition has been an interest of Josh's for some time, and he is very excited for you to hear his debut composition.
Josh is well versed in the field of collegiate-style a cappella music. He has arranged for, and performed with, the Cheltenham High School's Sons of Pitch, Temple University's Broad Street Line, and The A Cappella Project - Philadelphia. Josh is also a brother of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a national music fraternity. He has served as Music Director, Ritual Director, and Alumni Relations Officer of the Rho Upsilon chapter at Temple University.
About the Music:
"This piece, as I feel it, reflects less of a crushing emotional pain, and more of a fond reminiscence of time gone by, be it with a person who has passed, a love lost, a friendship slipped by. I have adapted the English translation so that it is more natural to sing."
Spanish: Desearía poder traer de regreso a alguien del cielo y pasar un día con esa persona, solamente una vez, una última vez.
Direct English: I wish I could bring back someone from heaven and spend a day with that person just once, one last time.
Adapted English: I wish I could bring him, her, you, back from heaven for one day. With him, her, you, I want one last day.
Ben Hjertmann (@kongmustdead)
Ben Hjertmann is a Chicago-based composer and vocalist. Ben composes and performs with the avant-folk trio the Grant Wallace Band and his indie-pop project, Kong Must Dead. In 2013, he released a self-produced album of chamber metal called Angelswort. In addition Ben received his Doctor of Music in Composition degree from Northwestern University in 2013. His dissertation research focused on microtonal harmonic structures derived from sum & difference tones. Ben teaches composition, music technology, theory, and song writing at Northwestern University, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, and Flatts & Sharpe Music Company. Hjertmann has been a resident artist at the MacDowell Colony, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, and the Shell Lake Arts Center.
Liam James Moore (@thelazyreason)
Liam Moore is comfortable writing and performing classical, jazz and popular styles of music. He writes mostly for chamber ensembles and also occasionally writes music for film, dance and other visual and performing arts. Liam has studied voice, piano, cello, violin, bass and guitar, and also plays trombone quite poorly. Currently, Liam is transcribing songs of the late American composer Ernst Bacon to ready them for publication and he is also working with a colleague on a piece that explores direct audio-to-video translation. Liam has a B.A. in music composition from the University of Wisconsin–Madison where he studied with Stephen Dembski and Laura Elise Schwendinger. Liam lives in St. Paul, MN
About the Music:
When I started writing Trending, there were a number of Twitter’s aspects that I wanted to explore: tagging, following, re-tweeting and the “at” sign, among others. Trending eventually became a half cynical, half endearing musical manifestation of how people use Twitter. In “Hot Air,” the choir sings until they run out of breath; in “Pointless Babble/Peripheral Awareness,” they “re-tweet” what they hear their neighbors say and shorten their words as we are learning to do through e-mail, text messaging and Twitter; “Be Leaders and Followers” allows some choristers to take it upon themselves to be a trendsetter and lead their section, and allows others to sit back and follow; and “A Tweet” is someone’s repetitive but nuanced thoughts sent into the Twitterverse.
Throughout the piece we hear only five different pitches, so by the end, our ears are saturated with just one harmony. However, that saturation is like trending topics on Twitter at any given time; they could be replaced by any others and the piece would be refreshed like the Trends board.
No movement exceeds 140 seconds.