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Canonical Tones by Nico Muhly

Canonical Tones
A Suite of 12 Ringtones Composed by Nico Muhly
1. Gentle Alarm
2. Severe Alarm
3. Alarm You Will Snooze
4. Stressful Family Call
5. Chill Family Call
6. The Office
7. Booty Call
8. Mystery Caller
9. You've Got Mail
10. Dr Rosenfeld
11. Skim the Stock
12. Status Update



We are surrounded by sound in our daily lives, from the hum of the traffic outside our window when we wake, to the crickets that sing us to sleep. But how do we curate the daily sounds that we control? How can these sounds amplify or glorify our daily rituals, slow us down, and mark the passage of time? Nico Muhly's Canonical Tones explore the textures of our everyday routines, replacing the notion of "canonical hours"—the religious practice of dividing the day into multiple prayer sessions—with his own canonical ringtones. Instead of "Prime" (early morning prayers), we have "Gentle Alarm," and instead of "Vespers" (evening prayers) we have "Booty Call." 

Muhly has conceived twelve different ritualized ringtones, which will be sold to twelve different people. Upon purchase, the buyer will be asked to correspond with Muhly via email, after which he will compose and record the ringtone (between 10 to 30 seconds of music), and send the single copy to the buyer, who will be the sole owner of the piece, while the artist retains the copyright. 

Once all 12 ringtones have been purchased, composed, recorded, and installed—once all twelve ringtones are playing randomly on twelve phones around—the world, like a bell calling us to worship—Canonical Tones will be complete.



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Nico Muhly