The Rise And Fall Of Polyphonic

For a century –or so – after the discovery of telephone, the ring tone that was associated with it was monophonic. It had the characteristic of being consistent, simple, and boring. With the advent of the digital age that shrunk telephones to fit into our pockets and more young people having the opportunity of owning telephones, it was only a matter of time before change will occur.

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It was not only size of telephones that shrank. The circuits also shrank giving users the ability to redefine their ringtones. In mobile phone technology, a polyphonic is defined as a type of ringtone that is more advance in quality than monophonic. Polyphonic can have more than one musical note at a time unlike the monophonic which restricts one note at a time.

The Origin Of The Modern Ringtone


From a logical point of view, one can conclude that polyphonic ringtone started with the cell phone era. In reality, it dates back to the 1970s following a revolutionary decision by the Federal Communications Commission.

Around the 1980s, a British musician, Thomas, Morgan Robertson (also known as Thomas Dolby – a name he go in the latter part of his career) working on his debut revolutionized the ringtone for mobile phones.

He went on to enter into partnership with Nokia (the details of the contract is still sketchy). He went ahead to create the iconic ‘Nokia tune’ which turned out to be the most listened ringtone in the world.

The Success Of The Polyphonic Ringtone

Subsequently, Dolby moved to Silicon Valley where he set up polyphonic visual synthesizers which allowed computers to play more than one musical note at a time. At that time Nokia and all other competitors used Dolby’s polyphonic ringtone synthesizer.

According to a 2014 press release to announce the arrival of a chart for Billboard’s Hot Ringtones, the polyphonic ringtone market has risen to $300m. A year later, the figure has doubled by a New York Time piece. Many people have been caught in the frenzy of buying polyphonic ringtones. One of these would have been possible if Dolby failed to sell Nokia his polyphonic. The publication of the Billboard’s Hot Ringtones continued until 2014.

The Unexpected Fall Of Polyphonic

With more advances in technology, the falling out of favor of polyphonic among mobile phone users did not come as a surprise. Dolby saw it coming. Speaking with the BBC in 2011 mentioned that he had a mixed feeling about his idea giving way to songs (MP3).

Polyphonic sounds are still default part of many phones but they are nearly never used. A few users thinks both the polyphonic and songs are noise and would prefer to keep their phones on vibration, except for the alarm clock.

The Future Of Polyphonic

Inasmuch as bringing back polyphonic to its glory days may sound like a myth, but we all agree that polyphonic offer a more refined sound that cannot be replicated by their predecessors.


I have always had the passion for swapping a variety of cell phones with the desire to explore various ringtones available in them.This overwhelming quench has led me to discover the tons of ringtones and their relevant areas of use.