‘Ringtonic’ is my answer to the Crazy Frog, an attempt to make a pop hit out of ringtones that are deeply embedded in the public’s psyche.
In particular the track features the ubiquitous ‘Nokia tune’ (originally a fragment from a 19th century classical guitar piece by Spanish composer Francisco Tarrega) which has been re-constructed using a software emulation of the early 1980s Casio VL 1 keyboard. In fact if you listen carefully to that original guitar piece in its entirety you’ll hear that my track is essentially a close parrot-phrase in 4/4.
Elsewhere I have described this record as “an affectionate tribute to mobile phone culture, the music that we hear all around us on a daily basis, particularly on public transport, but hitherto unstructured as a concentrated listening experience”. My other piece ‘Telephone’ was an unnecessary follow-up to this one, motivated by a gnawing doubt that I hadn’t used every phone sound I could in a single track.
I’ve deliberately used instrument sounds that refer to what we would these days regard as rather primitive music technology (like the Gameboy and Commodore 64) and are definitely not pleasurable to listen to. I do find it fascinating nonetheless that these sounds have persisted with us in certain areas of technology like telephones, burglar alarms, microwave ovens etc.
The single was originally released in 2010 under the pseudonym ‘Citron Gin’ (an anagram of ‘Ringtonic’) a character who one might best describe as “a pioneer of the Hebden Bridge bitbeat scene”. ‘Bitbeat’ is a variation on ‘Chipbeat’, which refers to the recent retro-fad for creating music using sounds derived from 1980s videogame technology, ‘bit’ referring to the 8-bit computer processor which produced the mind-numbing sounds I’ve utilized in this track.
Example comments by Garageband users on the original 2010 release:
This is just a great idea for a song. Reminiscent of Popcorn, but this is really its own thing. It works on two levels: first, it sounds good, the only metric to measure any song. And second, there’s something trippy about mixing all these disparate ringtones. Maybe it’s because we’re all so used to hearing them in everyday life we tune them out. This is practically an art installation that you’ve done here.
I don’t know that I’m laughing through it, necessarily (I’m reviewing this under the “Comedy” genre), but it’s definitely a very cool song. No complaints here. - baronvonbarren from Takoma Park, Maryland on 26May2010
First instinct is some cool melodies going on here. I recognize one of the melody lines from an old video game, it’s pretty much exactly the same but I can’t remember the name of it and that might be on purpose on your part. After about a minute I’m getting a little bored. This would make great background video game music for games made 15+ years ago. Doesn’t sound like “Comedy” music so doesn’t really fit in this genre. - Greg_G175 from Edmonton, Canada on 14May2010
A collection of ringtones that are annoying individually will not magically sound better when pieced together over a metronomic drum beat.
Normally when I dislike a song I try to think of something positive to say about it because at least the band/artist tried to make something. - kyoodle from Bognor Regis, West Sussex, United Kingdom on 28Apr2010
That is such an annoying ringtone in the intro, which is perfect for making your statement made. LOL! I recognised some ringtones in there, including my own. It sounds a bit 8-bit, but I get how it is meant to be all cell phone voices. This is catchy, yet annoying only when I hear my own t-mobile ringtone which is hillarious. I feel like running into a movie theatre and blasting this right now. I love the faintness of the drums and how every sound is computerized. It really is cellphone hell! - Stacey_Haza from Baltimore, Maryland on 25Apr2010
Track of the Day on 25Apr2010 in Comedy
Track Of The Week on 26Apr2010 in Comedy
Best Programming in Comedy, week of 3May2010
Best Programming in Comedy, week of 24May2010
Best Melody in Comedy, week of 31May2010
Best Mood in Comedy, week of 3May2010
Most Original overall, week of 31May2010
Most Original in Comedy, week of 24May2010
Most Original in Comedy, week of 31May2010