The story behind the Nokia ringtone that everyone knows
More than just a ringtone
The evolution of ringtones is one filled with many auditory icons. Whether you know the history or not, certain jingles just stick in your memory.
Nokia was the original cellphone brand and had a small, pre-recorded selection of ringtones. The default tone was a brief cut of Francisco Tárrega's 1902 guitar solo, 'Gran Vals,' that was turned electronic.
According to Quartzy, this passage was heard in pockets and purses an average of 1.8 billion times a day.
So why out of all the tunes in the world was Tárrega's chosen? Well, the best selling point was that it was old. Nokia needed to select a ringtone free of expensive copyright claims, and European law states that music is released to public domain 70 years after the composer dies. Tárrega, who had passed away 84 years earlier, was just the man they needed.
The Nokia ringtone went on to be one of the most distinctive auditory icons of the technology revolution, making Tárrega one of the most famous posthumous artists.