Tag Archives: Ringtones

Gaggletones (a.k.a. Geesetones)

One of the Geese Featured in the Gaggletones

I got two goosie-tones for ya (from out at Patusan Farm in Clarksburg, PA).  I dedicate these tones to Jill Kazmierczak–you can listen to her Ye Old School Bell Tone here.  I couldn’t have recorded the audio for these tones without her help.

The first is the Gaggle Montage Tone, and it starts off with a good goose hiss.  Did you know that a goose could hiss?  I had no idea until they did, until I tried to get close enough to them to record some good goose audio!

Gaggle O' Geese out at Patusan Farm

Gaggle O' Geese out at Patusan Farm

The second tone is more repetitive–an alert signal, since I’ve heard that geese make good “watch dogs.”  Here’s what Australia’s New South Wales Department of Primary Industries says about having geese around as watchful critters:

Geese become excited and noisy if confronted by intruders or strange sounds. They respond by making a hissing sound, and for this reason make good ‘watchdogs’. The Chinese breed has been the most widely used for this purpose, though all breeds are suitable to some extent.

Here’s the Gaggle Alert Tone.

Goose Hisser

Goose Hisser

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Horsie Tones for Patty

Rodeo (Extreme Close Up)

Rodeo (Extreme Close Up)

We were very lucky that Patty Minter, Jill’s sister, the owner and senior instructor of Patusan Farm was heading back home from a horse show as we were out in the fields trying to capture audio for a horse ring tone.  Patty’s expertise and in-depth knowledge of the horses was completely necessary for us to succeed.  Thanks, Patty!  These horsie tones are dedicated to you, and all the critters out on Patusan Farm.

Patty and Brown

Patty and Brown

Horsie Montage Tone features momma horse Rita, her foal Rodeo (Patty’s temporary name for the new youngin’), Brown (just back from the horse show) and one of these two horses out in the pasture.  This tone’s likely to raise curiosity when it’s “performed” on cell phones out in public–especially in urban settings.

Momma Rita and Her Foal

Momma Rita and Her Foal

Rita

Rita

The foal sure did enjoy nibbling on my sweat pants!

The foal sure did enjoy nibbling on my sweat pant

Horsie Chow-Down Tone features Rita, Brown and one of the pasture horses.  It’s the quieter version of the two horsie tones.  It’s the second “eating” tone on the blog.  Be sure to check out the Apple Biting Tone for Benjamin Pritchard if you haven’t already heard it.   I’m sure the horses out on the farm would love that one–hey, now!  [Okay, I’ll stop with the puns…]

Mr. Brown

Mr. Brown

Horses in the Pasture

Horses in the Pasture

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Kevin C. Smith’s “Bent Circuit” Tones

KEV HA

Meet Kevin C. Smith, dorkbot member and circuit bender.  He lives in Friendship with his wife and three kids.  Kevin performs live with Maurice Rickard, in The Bureau of Nonstandards.  He submitted a number of “circuit bent” ringtones to the project.  I’ve selected two–one made with what Kevin calls a Dub Siren device, and the other made with a circuit bent and hairless Furby.

Siren2‘s audio came from a keychain that had about eight sounds on it.  Kevin modified the keychain, put it into this beaut of a wooden teabox, and now it’s a Dub Siren.

Kevin Works the Dub Siren

Kevin Works the Dub Siren

Naked Furby

Naked Furby

Kevin removed this Furby’s fur so that he could, um, add something to the way it moved and sounded.  Locally Toned ended up getting this Furby2 ringtone out of it!

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1st Locally Toned Submission (by Herman Pearl a.k.a. DJ Soy Sos)

DJ Soy Sos (a.k.a. Herman Pearl)

DJ Soy Sos (a.k.a. Herman Pearl)

Herman’s a friend of mine–a musician, audio producer and DJ.  A few weeks ago, I was at a party at Herman’s house, and when we were chatting we discovered that we were both into making ringtones.  We played dueling ringtones, right there in his living room, off our phones.  Herman explained that he wasn’t into mainstream music ringtones, that he actually liked making old-fashioned alert signals (an audio signal that lets you know someone is trying to reach you).  Listen to one of Herman’s alert tones now [Modular Ringtone No. 11 by DJ Soy Sos.].

I invited Herman to submit some tones to the project, and when I discovered that he had a small collection of Mbiras (African thumb pianos), I asked if he would make some mbira ringtones.  Yesterday he sent a number of thumb piano tones for me to listen to, and I noticed that they weren’t 100% acoustic recordings.  I asked him why he didn’t make “untreated” or acoustic mbira tones for the project.

One of Herman's mbiras.

One of Herman's mbiras.

“Because I’m using electronics to simulate the African technique which, musically, is not to use a pure Western tone.”  It’s an aesthetic/musical integrity issue.  But since I wondered how the tones would play back over a phone, I asked him to run some acoustic mbira tones for me so we could test out many tone flavors.  “Sure I will, because it’s all pure love, baby,” he said.  Here’s one of the mbira tones with added electronics Mbira Tone No. C2 by DJ Soy Sos.  Herman promises untreated mbira tones soon.  I’ll be sure to post one to the blog as soon as it’s fresh off his audio editing system.

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Ringtones and Accessibility

BBC Interview with Stevie Wonder

BBC Interview with Stevie Wonder

While I was working on my proposal for the Old and New Media Residency program in January, I happened to hear an NPR story about Stevie Wonder’s visit to the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  Wonder was advocating for electronics manufacturers and designers to make their products more accessible for the blind.  I followed up on that NPR lead about Wonder’s attendance at the show, and found this BBC video interview featuring the superstar.  The stories got me thinking about finding a way to reach out to the local blind community as collaborators on the ringtone project, and, in general, about the heightend sensitivity to sound that many blind people develop.  I recall an approach that John Butler, a professor from Ohio University’s School of Film, shared with me back in the days when I was running the Media Literacy program at Pittsburgh Filmmakers.  Professor Butler gives an assignment to students in some of his sound production/design classes, asking them to construct “audio maps” so that each student would be able to find his or her way home, from the school, by the sounds they have on the map.  He also asks his students to chose a photo or a picture of any kind, and to use sound to “describe” the image, so that a blind person would know what it is.  His students may use music, sound effects, dialogue or any other field recordings or “Foley” sounds to aurally illustrate their selected images.

Keeping Stevie Wonder’s recent act of advocacy in mind, it was important for me to me to think of how Locally Toned may “tune into” and focus on the blind community, soliciting their expertise and contributions.  Because I can see and hear, I receive both audio and visual call-alert signals (ringtones and wallpaper photo IDs).  Since many blind people have a heightened sense of hearing, what sounds might they wish to amplify or set as ringtones useful or interesting to them? [ANOTHER IMPORTANT & RELATED THOUGHT:  Can deeplocal help me hack into the vibrate mode of cell phones to program them with a series of different alerts for the hearing impaired who use the devices for text and/or picture messaging?  Oh!  And will our website be easily accessible to the blind?]

Locally Toned advisor Kirsten Ervin, of Everyone an Artist, directed me to two important local resources–Radio Information Services of Pittsburgh, and the Golden Triangle Council of the Blind.  The mission of RIS Pittsburgh is to further the independence, education, and self-reliance of children and adults in Western Pennsylvania who are blind, visually impaired, or unable to read or hold print material, by providing current information from print media and other sources not readily available to them.  GTCB’s vision is to continue to be recognized as the leading advocacy organization in the Greater Pittsburgh area in employment, transportation, and accessibility for people with vision impairments. The aim of all of our activities is to encourage people to achieve their potential as valued members of society.  I hope to work with and/or through both of these organizations.

For now, I’ve followed up on these wonderful leads Kirsten shared with me, and look forward to considering accessibility issues within the project through collaboration with these local stakeholder-communities.  Right now there’s a possibility I might be able to visit on-air with host Marilyn Egan on her RIS show Town Talk, to share Locally Toned’s call for participation with her audience.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

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Project Inquiry and America Calling

America Calling by Claude S. Fischer

America Calling by Claude S. Fischer

One of my project advisor’s Lareese Hall, recommended a book that I’d also spotted in my preliminary research–America Calling:  A Social History of the Telephone to 1940 by Claude S. Fischer. So what the heck does a scholarly, statistical book like that have to do with ringtones? It is important to me to understand the context for the ringtones–specifically the invention and dissemination of the device that they are nested in–a telephone. Here’s what stayed with me from the book:

1. Sometimes the creators of the new technology are dead wrong about the applied uses of the technology. Telephone companies may have marketed certain uses of the telephone to people, but the users end up designing uses appropriate, interesting and/or necessary to them.

2. Etiquette was an issue. Manufacturers and distributors of new technologies do seek to educate and instruct the public, not just through manuals or help pages, but also through advertising on how the public should use their tools. I quote Claude (from a chapter called Educating the Public): “Many industry people complained of profanity, yelling and abuse on the telephone. Through notices, direct chastisement of customers by employees, and occasional legal action, the companies sought to improve telephone  courtesy.” It might be interesting/run for me to think of potential ringtone/cell phone etiquette projects to promote the project.

3. Telephones were often marketed to people as useful when emergencies arose. Interesting–many first time cell phone users (especially women I know) spoke of how they got their first cell phone “in case of emergencies” and for times when they  might be driving alone in their cars, in case of  break-downs and such. But cell phones also allow us to be mobile (rather than stationery) when reinforcing our personal circles of social interaction. Phone companies, at first, weren’t so keen on selling phones for socializing–they were primarily touted as tools for business and emergencies. But the public adopted phones for social purposes, and telephone marketing departments responded with media campaigns highlighting this usage.  “A 1937 AT&T ad reminded readers that ‘the telephone is vital in emergencies, but that is not the whole of its service…Friendship’s path often follows the trail of the telephone wire.’” Ever heard of Friendster?

4. There is a notion that technologies like telephones and automobiles help to distance personal communities from localities, yet statistical analysis hints that telephone development spurs local activity (whereas autos spur extralocal activity). What will video telephony do for us? Extend and reinforce the network further out? I think so. I tend to use phone calls and text messages largely for purposes of local communication, and a video call via Google Chat to connect with people farther away. Is Google Chat with Video like the automobile?! To a certain extent… Facebook and Twitter certainly reinforce local experiences.

5. Quoting Claude again, “…both the telephone and automobile before WWII were, in their domestic use, “technologies of sociability” (and thus perhaps especially “feminine”). “The net result of their use was to expand the volume of social activity and, in that way, add to the pace of social life” (p. 254). Will scholars continue to think of technologies of sociability as “feminine” now that so many males heartily participate in online localized media and participatory social cultures (texting, MMS-ing, emailing, vide0-chatting, and through online participatory cultures)? Does an attempt to involve the community in the creation of original ringtones and ringtone sharing have a chance to become another social activity as part of telephony?

6. As another friend and project advisor, Hyla Willis pointed out, a phone’s ring is an alert signal. From America Calling, (p. 244), “The telephone, some observers assert, sped up the pace of life, forced people to be alert, and thus created a lasting feeling of tension.  …In his 1976 history of AT&T, John Brooks claimed that the early telephone ‘was creating and expecting immediate results, whether in business, love or other forms of social intercourse.'” When I was growing up, telephones had one ring that sounded the same. I remember when some of my friends got Snoopy (or other character phones) and the alert signals were different. Do people feel less interrupted or disturbed now that voicemail is standard and that “rings” can be selected and programmed by individuals? Will we just feel more empowered to let unidentified calls go into voicemail, and more readily availble to be connected to those we want or need to hear from because we can identify their calls with the sweetest, most personal, audio forms of notificaiton?

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PRESS RELEASE: Artist Invites Pittsburghers to Make and Share Their Own Ringtones as Part of Innovative Art and Technology Project

April 23, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:    Teresa Foley
tfoley@deeplocal.com

Pittsburgh, PA – What are the sweetest sounds to Pittsburghers, and what sounds should be turned into ringtones and made available to the public free of charge? How about a cat’s meow as the ringtone for when the veterinarian or pet-sitter calls? Someone playing scales on a saxophone for the music teacher’s call? The whistle of a steel mill, or the clang and clatter of the incline as it travels up Mount Washington? An Islamic call to prayer, or the sound of a chef chopping vegetables?
Local artist T. Foley seeks to involve individuals and groups as collaborators in designing ringtones for a public art project in Pittsburgh entitled Locally Toned, a not-for-profit venture that will provide free ringtones to the community via the project website and MMS (multimedia messaging service) distribution. Would-be participants only need ideas—the artist will provide the technical know-how and equipment. During a time of economic crisis, when ringtones range in cost from .99 to $3.00 each, Locally Toned invites Pittsburghers to create and share ringtones outside the marketplace—to identify distinct sounds for new tones beautiful to them yet usable by others. In the months of May and June, approximately 50 participants will be selected by Foley to collaborate on an original 30-second ringtone based on their submitted idea. Tones may be humorous, serious, ironic, musical, machine-based, or come from nature. Selected applicants will accompany the artist on locale to conduct field recordings that will be turned into a cell phone ringtones. Participants will be photographed for possible inclusion in project  exhibitions and archives. Tones will be made available to the public by the end of July. Foley’s work is supported within the structure of a new corporate residency program with deeplocal (a Pittsburgh-based mobile software design, development, and strategy studio) and the arts/bookmaking collective Encyclopedia Destructica. This innovative public art project “performs itself” within the airspace (which is public property for sonic transmissions), when its participants receive cellular phone calls. The application criteria and instructions follow.

Apply to Make Your Own Ringtone with Artist T. Foley

Audio content must be copyright free (i.e., original compositions or audio which exists in the natural world), and tone duration will be 30 seconds or less. Potential audio sources must have a high likelihood for being successfully and safely recorded by the artist. Tones are to be shared with others, so content should not be too personal. For example, a recording of someone’s mother on an answering machine saying, “Pick up the phone, Fred, I know you’re home!” won’t work.  But, “Pick up the phone, I know you’re home!” could work as a ringtone that many Pittsburghers might wish to own.

Selected participants will be notified by the artist by email or phone before June 15, 2009. To apply, email tfoley@deeplocal.com with the following information:

NAME:

ADDRESS:

PHONE CONTACT:

EMAIL:

PROPOSED TONE IDEA:

LOCATION WHERE THE AUDIO IS TO BE RECORDED:

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Great Idea from Erica (Giving Your Ringtone to Somebody Else)

Heart Diagram

Was out to dinner with my friend Erica the other night and since I recently made her some ringtones (Heart & Soul Solo and Heart and Soul Duet), she said the gift got her thinking about how people could use them. Her basic idea was that it be lovely if she could easily give the ringtones to people she knew as audio identifiers for her.

I loved the idea–then ringtones are like electronic calling cards of sorts! Why not? What if people were more engaged in making and sharing original ringtones and they would be easily sharable when you give out your phone number. A ringtone could be an individual’s audio “signature” of sorts. They already are, but we generally pick or program many of them for others. Erica’s idea is interesting because it asserts an individual’s personal flair/agency rather than representing somebody else’s identification for another.

Project Challenges: Distribution
How could the tones be efficiently/easily embedded somewhere for people to share and use? Could Skype have them? Could Facebook or MySpace accomodate them? Would people use flash drives to quickly put them on phones? Some people, when they put me into their phone contacts, they just call me up right away, to store my number and then they type in my name/deets. Moving a ringtone over to someone during that sort of momentary exchange could be key.

I will have to ask the gentlemen at deeplocal about this one. People who contribute thier ideas to the project (especially ringtone idea submissions) will need easy ways to get them on their phones and to other people. Streamlining distribution for different phones, service providers, etc. will be a big and interesting challenge.

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