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Mobile Phone Ringtones

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As technology for mobile phones gets better practically by the day, so do the options for customisation. From celebrity voicemail to changing your operator logo (the writing or picture on the display of your mobile) to the hundreds of thousands of ringtones out there for download, the choices are endless. Ringtones are by far the most popular way to customise your phone1; there are various ways of getting that must-have tune, including being able to send ringtones from your own phone to a friend, but the two most popular methods are detailed below.

Downloading a Ringtone

This is the easiest but most expensive method of getting yourself that brand new ringtone everyone's going on about. The most popular method by far is to surf the websites or peruse the newspaper and magazine adverts of various companies such as Your Mobile and Tone DJ, taking note of your chosen song's special code and phoning the order line, which costs an arm and a leg to call - especially if you are calling from your mobile. Once you have ordered your tone by typing in the given code, it is sent to your phone in a matter of minutes.

Ringtone Credits

Another method on offer to mobile users is the option of buying a special card available in most shops. These cards give 'credits' which are normally used for ringtones and picture messages. The more expensive the card, the more you get. These cards normally come with the latest ringtones taken from chart singles, again with a unique code and number to call. These cards normally offer a number of ringtones with a number of logos, but as mentioned before the price of such a card varies with what is on offer with it.

Web-based Accounts

Some websites even offer a web-based account - one example of this is the popular service offered by BoltBlue, BoltBlue Xtra. They offer two ways of buying credits - by paying for a 30-day subscription by credit/debit card through the website or by calling yet another premium rate number. However, the cost of calling the premium rate number is more or less equal to the price of the card transaction. With one purchase you receive the standard two ringtone credits and three logo credits, which you can then use up by browsing through their online catalogue and picking the ones you want. If you don't use up your allowance by the 30-day period, you will lose it. However, if you renew the subscription you keep your allowance, which is then carried over to the new one.

Composing a Ringtone

Most mobile phones now come with a composer facility, where you can program your own ringtones into your phone. Below is a list of how to do this with the two most popular types of phone.

Nokia Composer

On Nokia phones, Composer can be found in the Tones menu.


Pressing keys 1-7 on the keypad will give you notes A to G as follows:

1 = C 2 = D 3 = E 4 = F
5 = G 6 = A 7 = B

To change the duration per second of a note, decrease by pressing 8 and increase by pressing 9. The duration of the note cycles through 1 to 32 (32 being the shortest, 1 the longest).

To change the octave of the note, press *. This then cycles the note through 3 octaves.

To add a pause, press 0. You can increase or decrease the pause using keys 8 and 9.

To convert a note's pitch to a sharp (#) note, press the hash key. A # symbol sits next to the note.

Using the following, you can write a sharp (#) note as a flat (b) note, and vice-versa. This is called the enharmonic system.

Ab = G# Bb = A# Cb = B Db = C# Eb = D# Fb = E Gb = F#

To create a 'dotted note' (a note with one and a half times its value - for example, a half note in this instance would last for 3 beats instead of 2), press and hold the key of the note until a dot appears in the note. For example, the note would look something like this - 4.e1

You can move through the notes by using the cursor keys. To insert a note, simply position the cursor where you want it to go. If you need to clear a note, positioning the cursor to the right of the note and pressing c will delete it. If you want to clear the whole screen and start again, press and hold c.


To change the tempo of the ringtone, whilst still in the Composer screen press Options, Tempo and select the required BPM (beats per minute).

Now, with a tempo of 180, try this tune for size.

  • 4c2 2b1 8a1 8g1
  • 8f1 8e1 4d1 2d1
  • 4c2 2b1 8a1 8g1
  • 1f1 4c2 2b1 8a1
  • 8g1 8f1 8e1 4d1
  • 2d1 4f1 2g1 8f1
  • 8e1 1d1

Ericsson Composer

On most Ericsson phones, Composer is found in the My Melodies menu.

The notes are entered using the numbers 1-9, each number corresponds to a specific note. To make the note longer, hold the key down.

1 = C 2 = D 3 = E 4 = F 5 = G
6 = A 7 = B 8 = High C 9 = High D

To make the note sharp, press the # key once. To make it flat, press # twice. To return the note to normal, press # three times.

To move a note up an octave, press 0. Pressing once will make the note high, shown by adding a + in front of the note. To make the note low again, press the 0 key again.

To add a pause, press *. This will add p in front of the note.

The arrow keys will move the cursor through the notes, and pressing the c will erase the note to the left the cursor. To erase the entire code, press and hold c.

'Ready-made' Ringtones

If the above methods are too expensive or too complicated, why not let someone else do the work for you? Some websites have a good range of ringtones to choose from, and instead of having to sit and figure out how your Nokia/Ericsson composer works, they have figured it out for you - simply click on the required tone and a pop-up box appears with exactly what numbers you need to press. Try it out with the example below:

Tempo = 125 (Note: PH means 'Press and Hold', to achieve the dotted note mentioned above)

7 8 1 * 2
1 # 2 1 #
2 5 PH3 9
2 8 1 7 * * 1 *
7 * * 1 * 7 * * 1 *
4 # PH2 9 1 8
7 * * 6 5
4 # 5 4 #
5 2 * 1 7 * *
1 * 7 * * 6 5
4 # 5 3
4 # 2 9 1 8 *
2 PH7 * * PH1 *
6 9 * * 7 5 9

If you are more interested in the technical side and would like to find out how the technology works, help can be found at Number Systems.

1However, make sure if you ever need to send it back to the manufacturer they don't wipe all your lovely ringtones off the phone!

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