Social Media Symphony is a collection of notification sounds from popular social media applications layered on top of a MIDI rendition of the 1979 song “Rainbow Connection” by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher.  The song, originally featured in the “Muppet Movie” and performed by muppet, Kermit the Frog, highlights the theme of a “connectivity” that can never be reached, as the lyrics continually revert back to the chorus “someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection”. This phrase describes a destination that is never achievable mirroring the false promise of social media platforms to truly bring us closer together before sacrificing our privacy. Further the lyrics of the song evoke a false promise of connectivity that the public has been led to believe, but that can never be realized: “So we’ve been told and some chose to believe it, but I know they’re wrong wait and see.” Ultimately, the addictive nature of social media notification sounds have created a world where we are constantly waiting for the next message to arrive but are continually unimpressed by the resulting output.

The following app and service  notification sounds are used in the composition: Discord, Duo, Hiu, inlinx, imo, Instagram, Just Talk, Kik, Kakaotalk,Skype, SnapChat,  Line Messenger, liVu, Tango, Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Maaii Freecall, Nymgo, Mewe, Mi Chat, Monkey, Nandbox Messenger, Nymgo, Nimbuzz, Nono Live, QQ, Reddit, Sestyc, SiMontok, TamTam, Tinder, Viber, Tumblr, Twitch, Upco, Vigo, Vent, Vine, Vkontakte, Wechat, Weibo, Youz, Zendesk, and Xnxx.


“Social Media Symphony” can be heard via SoundCloud at this link and embedded here:


Device and app notification sounds, such as the first tri-tone text message arrival sound on the iPhone that was designed by Kelly Jacklin in 1999, have become beacons of the modern connected world. These sounds have grown into encompassing the echo chambers of our daily lives, drowning out even our most important conversations and urging us to divert our attention elsewhere. Despite the fact that these services are meant to “connect” us, these sounds often divide us while we inhabit groups since they take us away from interpersonal communication and  divert us towards our devices and digital communication. The complex and divergent nature of alert and notification sounds have become both a blessing and a curse to modern society in that they simultaneously make us feel more connected while driving us further apart.