I had to work a bit late last night so I had to figure out what I was going to do for my creative thing on the spot.  I lucked out because a while back when Jenny and I were heading out to Palm Springs I packed my music box and accessories into my backpack for the trip.  I forgot it was there until this evening.


I knew that I didn’t really have the time to focus on note selection and song structure.  So, I decided to find something to use as my guide.  I was initially thinking of printing out some EEG brainwave charts or some seismic charts so that I could transcribe the waves into notes on my sheet music strips.  Then, as I was checking the results of the California election, it hit me.  I could just use this election data as my source to translate into music.


I had to figure out the rules.  How was I going to use this information to convert into pitches over time?  I had twenty notes on the staff of my sheet music strip.  Twenty divided perfectly into multiples of five to make 100, so I was able to use the percentage of votes each candidate received as my guide for pitch.


I decided to do the Gubernatorial race.  Not all of the polling information was complete at the time so the music you hear may not match exactly but it should be pretty darn close to the final results.


To represent time I decided to use the names of each of our 50 states.  I wrote each name in alphabetical order on the bottom row of my sheet music.  On the first letter of each state I marked the pitches of both the Democratic candidate and the Republican candidate.  I looked at their current percentage of votes and then rounded it to the nearest multiple of five and I marked them on the staff.  That way as each state passed through the music box you could hear the chord that they’re percentages created.  If there were Independents or Others who received a percentage then they were added to the chord as well.  Maine had four candidates that received substantial percentages so Maine got a four note chord.


I also decided to attach a simple rhythmic form to each party.  Republican notes consisted of three quarter notes in a row and Democratic notes were two half notes.  Finally, since the time between states lasted as long as there are letters in the name I decided to add a simple metronomic clock note.  It was a high A that rings at the beginning of every bar.  That way, rhythmically, each state lands at a certain place in time with that clock note.


Anyways, it was cool to hear how the results translated into music.  It was interesting that in very close races you tended to have notes that were very close to each other resulting in somewhat discordant sound. Sometimes the race was so close that each candidate occupied the same note.


Anyways, I hope you enjoy the video!


5 Replies to “Day 241 / Election Results As Music

  1. toddburleson

    That took some serious thinking. You might try mounting your music box to a block of wood; it will help the resonance and the holding.



  2. The B-Roll

    It’s true. It has been a plan of mine for a while now to build a wooden box for the music box. Although I do like experimenting with using the music box on different objects to see how they resonate. But usually when I hold it against a guitar it sounds best, so I should just build a box for it.

  3. Todd Burleson

    I didn’t put mine in a box, but I just mounted it to a block of good wood. Then I can move it around to other surfaces, guitar, cigar box, etc.

    Just a thought.


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