Michael Montes on the TEDTalks ringtone

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Michael Montes is the composer who created the TEDTalks opening themes (now available as ringtones). We’re curious about what it’s like to have one’s music being experienced through a phone.

Who or what inspired you in creating the TEDTalks theme?
TED itself inspired me greatly. I tried to put the feelings that I retained from being at the conference into the music, the emotions that surround the idea of grappling with global modernity. This brought me to a compositional place of energy, complexity and anticipation.

Is this the first ringtone you’ve created? How do you feel about it?
I have created others for advertisers. But this is most special to me because it’s for TED, and for the enormous worldwide audience that the TEDTalks have reached.

What makes a great ringtone?
In this case, the music was meant to communicate that something very compelling is coming, and that it’s not about passive viewing, it’s a real call to action. Transfers nicely to an arriving phone call. Also, I hope it will start conversations with bystanders who recognize the theme and with those who don’t.

What ringtones are on your phone?
Standard iPhone. But now I’ve switched!

Do you think this ringtone could be likened to a poem? 
If the poem was being read by someone with a megaphone in front of an excited crowd, then yes.

What’s on your music playlist these days?
Peruvian folk songs, cellist Erik Friedlander, Toru Takemitsu, the soundtrack to the original Planet of the Apes by Jerry Goldsmith, lots more …

What are you reading?
Reading and rereading John Berger’s books. Very inspiring for me. He mixes art with politics. Right up my alley. Hold Everything Dear, Here Is Where We Meet, Pig Earth, Photocopies, etc.