Twitter Orchestra

Making sound of the news can be an interesting adventure. We all know what effect an instrument can have on our mood and what to associate with with the noise. If instruments and sounds can stand for a mood and mankind as an intelligent species is able to link words to feelings, we should have the opportunity to let our written feelings become the largest orchestra in the world. And we could do so with Twitter and other social media services.


First of all, the idea of making sounds based on tweets isn’t new. #tweetscapes used to convert hashtags into sound based on hashtags sent within Germany. You can see it on the map in the YouTube-video embedded below of the this.

Unfortunately the makers of this tool set it offline so we only have this video, Soundcloud-files and the website itself: http://heavylistening.de/tweetscapes/

http://heavylistening.de/tweetscapes/how-it-works/

Semantic

I am thinking about a more dramatic, intense implementing. As I have already mentioned in the introduction music is a mirror of our feeling adn so the “orchestra” should work with semantic analytics or an already clustered collection of words. Clustered means that every word already is linked to a word like “rainbow”, “candy” or “puppy” were linked to happy, “divorce”, “loss”, “tears” were linked to sadness and “war”, “violence” and “gun” were linked to anger.

If we have a collection of the vocabulary and it is already linked we would have to look up for the instruments we are looking for. Personally I’d always favor a violin for a sad mood, maybe a piano with high- and low-pitched notes variations, drums for violence and war.

You can imagine that press release like “bomb explosion in the city” (both words aren’t associating a good event) is triggering a storm of retweets and

This could be the visualization of instruments and how many different hashtags could trigger them. This is a simple example with a violin, a piano, pipes and drums.

Turning the hashtags into audio, into sound could give you another feeling of news and history. I can’t imagine what kind of sound it would have been if you would have been able to listen to a “audiozation” of tweets when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were landing on the moon — if folks had had Twitter these days.

But imagine the first tweets about the Lunar Module which is now landing on the moon.

“Apollo 11 on the way to moon. #moonlanding”

might cause suspense with drums and, because it is an interesting, historic moment, a good one, organs rise. Some instruments are fading in and create either a busy noise or a long, slow melody.

“Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

results in a fanfare of horns and the figuratively speaking release of feelings by an organ and the bright sound of bells.

Human voices

Of course you can make it feel more human and add human voices and you can avoid disturbances if the singers don’t use a real language like new-age music project “Adiemus”. A choir singing high-pitched notes could signalize a dramatic event. In this case I refer a Gregorian chant or even “The Mass”.

But we have to ask ourselves how many audiofiles we need to cover most events. Experience is the key. And a project like this needs the experience of many different guys from musicians or audio experts, server administrators and software engineers because to analyze Twitter will take some time, the semantic analysis isn’t saving a computer’s resources and it will cost some bucks to run it for a longer time — maybe a reason why HeavyListening stopped the project.

And we may have to ask how many users would really listen to it and if they really want to hear what news create as “music”. Often you will have to adjust the whole interaction of instruments and react on new events nobody thought about before.

Nevertheless it’s possible. Computer games sometimes use a dynamic soundtrack. A good example is this GitHub-container: http://tutsplus.github.io/Dynamic-Sequential-Soundtracks-for-Games/index.htm

The author of the tutsplus-article (http://gamedevelopment.tutsplus.com/tutorials/dynamic-sequential-soundtracks-for-games--gamedev-11170) mentions Portal 2, Red Dead Redemption and Uncharted as examples for this technology.

And I remember that in the first decade of the 21th century I told a friend about dynamic soundtrack for a role-play game called Gothic by Piranha Bytes from Germany. If the play is on the way with bow and arrow in a forrest a simple track is playing until he meets some deers and is busily sending an arrow to one of the fearful running deers while the music turns into a frantic sound.

Conclusion

While astronauts can see the beauty of our planet from space we could listen to the history of our planet. Maybe somebody is already working on this or not. I don’t know. But if so, I would listen to it. And maybe we can follow the sound when agan a man is landing on the moon.