"Is ScoreFollower's TikTok project conceptual art/music?"
Short interview with ScoreFollower’s founder Dan Tramte by Yuri Umemoto
"Score Follower" is the largest New Music resource on the internet. They make videos of contemporary music scores that turn pages along with the accompanying recordings, which can be followed on their YouTube channel.
The Call for Works held by Score Follower each season is a next-generation new music event that like a virtual music festival, and is open for participation to anyone around the world. The jury consists of important composers from various countries, and the number of submissions and selection ratio are extremely high, making being selected by Score Follower akin to being chosen for a world-scale contemporary music festival. In recent years, Score Follower's influence has become particularly prominent among younger generations of composers, making it a new trend in contemporary music.
In recent years, Score Follower has started a strange project on TikTok. They transcribe a large number of internet memes related to "sounds" that are overflowing on TikTok every day. What are they thinking? Composer Yuri Umemoto attempted a short interview with Dan Tramte, the founder and director of Score Follower.
"We make videos of contemporary music scores that turn pages along with the accompanying recordings. You can find our videos on our two YouTube channels: SCORE FOLLOWER and INCIPITSIFY, our new and incredible composer portfolio web-app scorefol.io, as well as our TIKTOK account where we transcribe the noise of the internet. We curate, license, and produce all of our videos in house and receive permission from all involved parties. We also help build the new music community through social media like YouTube, our Discord server, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Our activities encourage exposure for new music composers, performers, publishers, and recording labels alike, through a meeting place on the internet that is accessible to all. " - Score Follower
YU: I'm very interested in the content of Score Follower, especially the TikTok transcription project. I was wondering if that type of content is considered a conceptual "artwork" created by Score Follower, similar to Johannes Kreidler's conceptual music.
I found your creations intriguing, as they seem to critique modern-day SNS and internet content. I would appreciate it if you could provide me with some information on this.
DT: I’m friends with Johannes, and I definitely identify as someone who does conceptual music. I haven’t looked at my tiktok project in those aesthetic terms so much personally, but I would definitely see a connection. The biggest conceptual component of the tiktok project in my opinion is this:
A cute cat plays piano. very cute but…
If sheet music is displayed above the cat, it “implies” that the cat is performing a composition (which is, of course, extra cute). This reframes the role of the cat. The cat is not an improviser, poking at keys randomly; rather, the cat seems like they are interpreting a challenging score with virtuosic precision. In some ways it’s a conceptual “elevation” of a cat. In some ways, it pokes fun at contemporary music (but not in too derogatory) by equating the cat’s improv with the strange music of today.
But yeah, to me that is in a small way a “conceptual” project, but I haven’t spent too much time thinking of it in that way.
YU: Oh, so you're friends with Johannes Kreidler san! For example, his work "charts music" involves converting stock market charts into music, and by using Microsoft's automatic composition software "Songsmith", the concept becomes even clearer. What I thought was that in the same way, Score Follower uses the structure of TikTok and the internet society as a whole as the concept of its work, and the "Songsmith" in Kreidler's work is like "TikTok" in Score Follower.
YU: So, what does the TikTok project mean for Score Follower? Is it like a joke, so is this question nonsensical?
DT: To me there’s no fundamental difference between the noise you hear us transcribing on tiktok and the noise you hear on the contemporary concert hall: just as hissy, dissonant, beautiful, and gnarly. That “beautifully gnarly” noise is the thread connecting the two.
YU: Actually, I'm planning to imitate Scorefollower's TikTok project and do a similar project myself soon where I transcribe Japanese net memes related to 'sounds' on TikTok, in both Japanese and English-speaking communities. Japanese TikTok and internet memes have their own unique quirks and characteristics that differ from those in English-speaking communities.
DT: Would love to see your transcriptions.
YU: Thank you very much!
DT: Of course! Let’s stay in touch.