Hashtactivism

Composer
Alexander Boostrom
Composer Nationality
American
Composer Date of Birth
1986
Text
Found Twitter hashtags
Year Composed
2018
Pages
12
Minutes
6:30
Language
English
Voicing
8 part mixed chorus
Divisi
No
Solos
Yes
Sacred or Secular
Secular
Description

When I first conceived this piece, I wanted to emphasize what I saw as the transient nature of trending social activism hashtags, primarily through Twitter. The problem of hashtag social activism seemed especially important to me given humanity’s already short attention span. My previous experience on Twitter and Facebook presented hashtag social activism as something where people would focus on a goal, cause, or idea, and then promptly forget about it as soon as the new hashtag came along with its new cause. However, as I studied more about these hashtags, I realized that while there were certainly causes that were very important that were promptly forgotten about in a following year, there were other causes that were unrelentingly insistent. Observing what was trending, how certain hashtags maintained trending status, and the ways in which trending hashtags often competed in VERY contrasting ways, I started to see a pretty relevant picture as to how America gradually moved to the political climate in which it currently resides. However, these hashtags weren’t just a series of unrelated statements devoid of emotion, they were motives that spoke to each other, and to me as well. So I made the attempt to convey my own response to these voices in our social discourse. For example, with #blacklivesmatter, I used a tone row that remains the same even as the notes change specifically emphasizing the complexity and weight of this important movement, while still trying to shape it into lyrical lines emphasizing the compassion underlying the movement’s goals. By contrast, #TCOT (Top Conservatives of Twitter) was 4 simple notes that, throughout the piece, never change. The harmony changes underneath it, but those 4 notes do not change. The 4 notes spell “Bach” emphasizing a yearning for the past and tradition, while also creating a musical formation of the cross (used by Bach in one of his fugues for that express purpose), emphasizing the Christian focus of the conservative movement. I invite the listener to engage with these hashtags and my responses to them, and to think about the role social media hashtactivism should play in our society.

Group
C4
Performances
C4: 2018 December 1 (Premieres II), cond. Evans (World Premiere)