Dec 10, 2021 - News

University of Texas Tower bells play Taylor Swift's "All Too Well"

A screenshot of a tweet that reads "all too well (taylor's version).
Twitter: @uttowerbells

Nicole was winding down after a long day (scrolling TikTok for hours in her bed), when she stumbled across a video of the University of Texas Tower bells ding-donging away to the tune of Taylor Swift's "All Too Well."

Why it matters: Two of her favorite things — UT and Taylor Swift — converged to create something so beautiful, heartwarming, magical, awe-inspiring.

Nicole had a lot of questions: Was this the stolen version or "All Too Well (Taylor's Version)"? More importantly, was this the 10-minute version of the song?

  • Who is the mastermind behind this rendition, and do they want to be best friends?

UT fans know that the Tower bell rings daily, with "Texas Our Texas" at 8am, "The Eyes of Texas" at 9pm and a chime every 15 minutes.

  • But the fun stuff happens when the university's Guild of Carillonneurs, a group of seven students, perform outside of those automated chimes.
  • The group watches over the carillon — the musical instrument composed of bells, played from a keyboard that produces sound through variation of touch. Players use their fist to push on each baton, which pulls a string, then a clapper, then a bell.

Nicole reached out to the guild and learned Justin Zhang, a 21-year-old finance student, was the genius on the carillon last week.

  • Zhang is one of three directors for the guild. He's been part of the group since his freshman year.
  • "One of the big things I'm trying to do is increase our visibility across campus," Zhang told Axios. "I don't think everybody knows that there's people that actually play the bells — they think it's just a computer or some hunchback that stays in there and plays."

Now, back to Taylor Swift: Zhang picked the tune because of its popularity.

"My friends just never stop talking about it. I'm like, if my friends never stop talking about it, I'm sure there's so many people that can't stop listening to this, including me."

  • He found sheet music online, practiced it in an afternoon and performed the song early last week.
  • Zhang says he thinks his rendition is pretty close to the 10-minute version of Swift's song, although maybe more of "an abridged version of the 10-minute version."

He added that he's trying to play more pop songs and make walking to class a bit more fun. Recent tunes from the carillonneurs include Adele's "Rolling in the Deep," Bruno Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven" and Swift's "Love Story" and "22."

The guild's recent lineup of pop songs is certainly garnering attention. The TikTok that Nicole found has more than 8,000 likes, 192 comments and 933 shares.

  • And Barstool Longhorn posted an Instagram video of the Tower with the Mii Channel song ringing through the night sky.
  • "This is my way of procrastinating," Zhang said. "I was reading through the comments on TikTok and one of them was like 'imagine if the guy up there is learning the song instead of studying for his finals,' and that's exactly right."

What's next: Zhang says Longhorns can expect Christmas music as students begin heading home for their winter break.

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