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Once cell phones began to move beyond merely being able to place calls and became able to store more and more data, we began to see the rise of ringtones. Beyond the novelty ringers, now everyone could have a ringtone for different callers.
My first phone allowed custom rings, but you had to program in each note. This was difficult for someone who is close to tone-deaf. I eventually got a better flip phone that had a decent system for downloading low-quality ringtones, but the selection was very limited. Once I got my first smartphone (a Palm Pre +) I could really innovate. All of my most common callers would get their own ringtone. It took some work because, by default, my phone was unable to play them at sufficient volume. I had to boost the volume with audio editing software, which hurt the dynamic range and sound quality, but they were loud enough to get my attention. Some uploading later, I had an ample array of ringtones.
Dad got a song from Christian Rock band the 77s:
Mom got the William Tell Overture (she was often telling me to hurry up)
One of my roommates (we’ll call him Silence) got what I consider to be the perfect theme for him “A Fistful of Nickels”- a spaghetti western style remix of a theme from the video game Final Fantasy VI.
Another roommate (call him RWS), the IT guru and wacky economist, got a section of the excellent Techno/Trance track “Keep it in the Family” by Hybrid. This is notable as one of the few themes that I listen to enough on its own that I don’t immediately go for the phone when I hear it.
A former roommate, a big James Bond fan, got Exercise at Gibraltar from the Living Daylights, which was one of his favorite Bond movie soundtracks. This is the very beginning, with the gunbarrel and such.
My good friend and somewhat adopted little sister, who is still a tomboy at heart got a plucky and optimistic theme.
My old high school friend, a lover of classic fantasy turned biologist, turned ordained minister, turned safety professional got a classic theme from a game we played in high school.
There were others I considered, but it was not worth the drama of my old boss finding out that I was using the Imperial March as his ringtone was not worth the amusement. Now, my father rapidly got in on this ringtone game, since his music library is gargantuan. Everybody got their own theme. So when I call my dad, he hears this on his cell phone: