2. About Mobile Sinfonia

A new composition by Jem Finer

The Mobile Sinfonia is an indeterminate musical composition scored for ring tones and an open, dedicated orchestra of mobile phone users. The project takes advantage of the ubiquity of these devices, which has already created a potential community of everyday performers and listeners.

The work is propagated through the distribution of free ringtones, each of which becomes a ‘voice’ in the composition. This effectively turns handsets into instruments in a global orchestra.

These ringtones are chosen by participants from an expanding set of found and performed sounds – e.g. birdsong, the human voice, musical instruments – which has been collected, composed and considered with an ear toward the accidental assonance of the whole. The piece emerges through the occurrences and coincidental interactions of these sounds – wherever and whenever those may be.

These ringtones are made available through this website and its corresponding mobile phone apps. The more people join the Mobile Sinfonia, the richer and more wide-spread the composition becomes, and the more it expands into an existing, largely uncoordinated public sonic space, otherwise known as the ringtone-o-sphere.

The idea for this project grew out of a talk given by Jem Finer in 2007 on the unconsidered effects of ringtones on the urban soundscape, and the possibility of channeling their potential toward a musical composition. The talk was given as part of Marcia Farquhar’s The Open University, a program of lectures held in a specially-converted skip in Archway, London.



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