When artist Leslie McAhren and I sat down to talk ringtones, she repeated a Latin phrase to me, “De parvis grandis a cervus erit. It’s something Google uses.” My old high school Latin didn’t help me to translate the phrase, so Leslie continued, “It means that small things will make a large pile.” She said some of her own work, specifically, her mini-science fair projects, were like ringtones–they were little sketches.
Leslie McAhren is presently a 3rd year MFA student at Carnegie Mellon University. I met her a handful of times at that institution when I directed the Pittsburgh Creativity Project at the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry. One day I mentioned that I’d been making ringtones. She told me she’d made some, too, and wondered if I curated tones made by others into the project. Did I? Absolutely!
Leslie told me she’s never purchased any ringtones, but that she began making her own (with GarageBand and her imagination) in the winter of 2008. “My grandma had a book called iPhone: The Missing Manual, and while I was reading that book, I learned that you could make your own.” Leslie makes the audio files for herself, though she shared being particularly moved one day, when her boyfriend sang one of her original tones back to her.
Some of her tones have been designed as alarms. “You want to make an alarm sound that people will pay attention to, so that they’ll take action. To me the [pre-loaded on iPhones] dog bark tone, as an alarm, is annoying and aggressive. For my alarm, I chose to work with dissonance.”
It makes sense to start with Leslie’s “feel great/act great Ringade Alarm, a soothing yet energizing alarm.”
Ring On is Leslie’s personal ringtone. This family photograph she sent in to Locally Toned is from Christmas, 1987.
The final tone, simply, is called Ring. “The beat of Tanya & Alfonso’s hearts,” is how McAhren described the composition.
Thanks very much for sharing your hand-made tones, Leslie–here’s to a bright and creative future!