Tweet A Sound: getting started tutorial from Andrew Spitz on Vimeo.

You probably think of social networking and messaging as being about text, about saying things like “Wow, this tuna salad sandwich I’m having for lunch is delicious!” But the next Tweet you get on Twitter could be a synthesis preset.

Say what?

Working in Max/MSP, Andrew Spitz has developed a tool called Tweet a Sound. It uses Twitter as a communications platform for “social sound design.” Instead of just saying, “Wow, I be makin’ phat basslines,” you can actually share the sound. Whip up a sound using typical FM synth parameters and Max/MSP’s sound engine, then click “send.” You’ll send a string of numbers to your Twitter account, confusing those friends not in the know. But other users will be able to grab and play with your sound.

Andrew even encourages synthesis n00bs to play without fear – grab those envelopes and mysterious-looking settings and see what comes out. So, I hope you synth geeks do share this with some friends new to synthesis, as I think they’ll have a great time.

Right now, Tweet a Sound is Mac-only; we just need someone to save a Windows standalone version. Someone has asked about a Pd port, but let’s put it this way: this is the tip of a very, very big iceberg of sharing. It’s something worth considering in anything you’re doing, not just with Twitter, but whether you can provide networked capabilities in whatever you’re happening to build.

Ableton, of course, recently added the Share functionality to Live. But with open APIs and basic networking protocols, there’s no reason you can’t explore other features. Why not build a drum machine that lets you collaborate with one of your friends on your IM list, or a sequencer that automatically posts ideas as you revise them? Just doing these things for the sake of it could be a waste of time, but on the other hand, these social features could turn Web 2.0 sites into places that actually inspire you to make and share music rather than distract you with mundane activities.

I love the idea; let us know if you have some fun with it.

Tweet A Sound { sound + software } [Andrew Spitz Blog]