Dutch Metropole Orchestra To Play a ‘Tweetphony’ to Save the Music

The Metropole Orchestra needs your help. The players of the jazz and pop orchestra from the Netherlands -- who have won multiple Grammy awards and played with artists such as Bono, Brian Eno, Ella Fitzgerald, and Dizzy Gillespie -- are about to lose their government subsidy. To save a national treasure, the orchestra is asking composers to Tweet them a song of 140 characters or less using a special keyboard to play, record, and notate the music.

The Metropole Orchestra needs your help. The players of the jazz and pop orchestra from the Netherlands — who have won multiple Grammy awards and played with artists such as Bono, Brian Eno, Ella Fitzgerald, and Dizzy Gillespie — are about to lose their government subsidy.

To save a national treasure, the orchestra is asking composers to Tweet them a song of 140 characters or less using a special keyboard to play, record, and notate the music.

The Tweetphony generator is a beautiful piece of technology: a tiny, digital keyboard that spans just over an octave and has a built-in metronome and a play-back button to give composers time to practice their pieces a few times before hitting the “Tweet” button. The system will then translate the songs into Tweets — with letters for the notes and underscores for the rests.

“We will be on the lookout for the coolest musical Tweets,” explained Alex Herwig, art director of Havas Worldwide Amsterdam. The communications agency collaborated with the orchestra and the creative agency Perfect Fools on this digital campaign to spread awareness for the orchestra using Twitter as both a creative medium and a broadcasting tool.

On Friday, October 26, the orchestra will have a team of 10 arrangers ready at Studio 1 of the MCO in Hilversum to turn the Tweets into fully orchestrated compositions and print out the scores for each member of the orchestra.

“It will be a series of short pieces,” Herwig added, to be played live on the Tweetphony website. “Most tweets are only fifteen to twenty seconds long (depending on the tempo they select). But we will create a composition out of this single Tweet that will last around one minute.” Afterward, they’ll make a video for each Twitter composition and send it back to the composer.

At the moment, the orchestra gets funding from the Dutch government, explained Herwig, but their budget is about to be cut. While it’s possible to go without the funds, it will take the group a couple of years to make the transition. “Last year, the responsible minister made the promise to help them, but it turned out to be an empty promise,” Herwig added. “The orchestra must keep playing. This is the message we want to send to the Dutch public and its politicians.”