Emojis, Likes and Ringtones


for piano trio

commissioned by ARD Music Competition 2018 financed by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation

first performance

13/9/2018 » Prinzregententheater, comlupsory piece at the semifinals of the ARD Music Competition, Munich

durata » 7′

Bärenreiter BA 11404

1_List of Emojis 2_Post 3_Mixed Feelings 4_Posts and Tapbacks 5_Ringtones Program Note The first set of 176 emojis from 1999 contained only 5 facial expressions (smileys). As of April 2018, the Emoticons Block in Unicode 10.0 contains 60 human facial expressions. With these emojis, our emotions are isolated, abstracted, categorized, granulated, sorted, listed. Each emotion gets a smooth, balanced, friendly picture. Each emotion fits into the exactly same size. These emotions become universal for the entire planet. Universal, but differently designed for each operating system and platform. Through emojis, emotions can be copied, pasted, multiplied and reproduced, even made bold, italicised or underlined. We can express exactly the same emotion unlimited times. We do not express the emotion we feel but rather the emotion we choose. We can choose from the available emotions only. Complex, mixed, or unavailable emotions have to be represented by chains of emojis... or disappear. A post on social media is a hope that we might interest someone else. A post is an entering of the digital scene, and an appeal for digital applause. We applaud through tapbacks. We can like, dislike, emphasize, love, laugh, question... A neutral tapback is not available (yet?). We cannot just digitally nod. We have to judge or shut up. When we run out of available emotions, we call. We personalize a ringtone for each person, so that we tune ourselves appropriately before we pick up. The ‘theory of constructed emotions’ suggests that emotions are formed by cultural convention. We can only experience emotions that we know the concept of. Even the concept of smile changes through ages and cultures. Thus, might the choice of available emojis change the entire cultural set of our emotions? In 2016, MoMA acquired the first set of emojis (1999) for its permanent collection. Recorded parts of this piece can be used as ringtones or other user interface sounds on digital devices.