The Null Device
On the making of ringtones
Some hints for those wishing to compose polyphonic ringtones that work with Nokia phones:
- Get this PDF file; it describes, among other things, which instrument sounds are available and which ones are mapped to other things. So if your harpsichord ends up sounding like a grand piano, you'll know why.
- A General MIDI sound module doesn't sound like a Nokia phone, though it's close enough for testing (especially if you keep in mind what's mapped to what). The godawful Universal Sound Module softsynth that comes with Cubase is useful enough for this task.
- If your tone won't play on your phone, it's probably too large; try cutting it down a bit. I think the limit (for the Nokia 3200, at least) is somewhere betwen 8 and 15K.
- Remember: it's a ringtone. Get rid of any intros, elaborate filigrees and buildups and get to the meat of it. It's probably going to play only for a few seconds (unless you're the kind of wanker who lets their phone ring out so that everybody on the train can hear how k3wl your tone is, of course, in which case you should probably be garrotted).
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