One Last Tweet

I’ve written a new piece of music based on a Tweet of mine. Here’s the Tweet:

A true work of genius, I know. Actually, honestly, if you think about this Tweet as often and as deeply as I have, it will start to seem like a work of genius. At the time I Tweeted this, I fully intended for it to be my final Tweet. Shortly thereafter, I decided that I would return to Tweeting eventually, when I had good reason to do so. But as I thought about this “Meat Twizzler” Tweet for days and weeks after I posted it, its mediocrity consumed me, and I wanted to make it into something special. Now enough about the Tweet. When I use the words Tweet, Tweeted, and Tweeting too much, I start to feel dirty.

The concept I used to transform a block of text into a piece of music is a bizarre one. There are several somewhat-accepted ways to convert letters to musical notes, but I wanted to try something different. I knew I wanted the piece of music to be arranged for electric guitar, bass guitar, vibraphone, and piano (a group of instruments I’ve written for in the past). So, I re-imagined a standard Apple keyboard as the neck of a bass guitar.

Bass MacFor example, the Z button on the keyboard is in the same placement as the first fret of the E-string on a standard four-string bass, making the Z equivalent to the note “F,” X equivalent to “F-sharp,” and so on. The bassline for this composition is, thus, derived from the letters used in my “last Tweet ever.” Each letter was given the value of a quarter note, and spaces are worth a quarter rest.

Once I had my pre-determined bassline set in stone, I began to allow myself a small dose of creativity by choosing piano chords that would fit over the bassline. With a bassline as erratic and unstructured as this one, it would’ve been easy for the chords to be equally disjunct and unpredictable. In an attempt to avoid this, I looked at the bass pattern created by each word of the Tweet and tried to determine what key would best accommodate that pattern. Inevitably, nearly every word is in a different key than the word before it. To try to smooth these awkward transitions, the vibraphone plays the leading-tone chord of the upcoming key.

I gave the melody to the electric guitar and warranted myself the greatest amount of freedom in writing this part. Once again, I tried to remain as traditional as possible to combat the completely non-traditional bass part. The melody ended up sounding vaguely Baroque in style, I think.

Maybe now is a good time to actually listen to the composition:

I believe I succeeded in my goal of turning something completely un-artistic (in this case, a Tweet about Slim Jims) into a musical composition that has some artistic merit. If you’d like me to turn your bad Tweets into pieces of music, send me a check for $10,000 made out to cash, and I’ll complete your personalized composition in 6-8 years.

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