Are mobile phones ruining “Für Elise”?

There’s a really fun post at Monty Ashley’s blog — arguing that mobile-phone ring-tones are wreaking havoc with classical music. Check it out:

A traditional cell-phone ring is Beethoven’s “Für Elise”, because it’s a simple tune and only needs one note at a time. But now there are extremely fancy phones with the potential for extremely complicated rings. Some phones have rings that sound just like old rotary phones, which I find funny.

But some people now associate “Für Elise” with cell-phones. So there are fancy phones that still have that as the ring tone. But because it’s important to use every ounce of potential, it’s not just a simple tune any more. They’ve added harmonic chords and all sort of things that make it sound, well, bigger. And that bugs me, because if you hear “Für Elise” played by an actual pianist, it won’t be nearly as complex as the version on the phones. Weird.

It’s a neat argument. There’s a MIDI version of Fur Elise here — does anyone have any links to any mobile-phone versions of it, to compare?

(Thanks to Bret and Hot Sandwich for pointing this one out!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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