Are you tired of having the same ring on your phone as everyone else? Would you like a specific riff as a ring tone but can not find it or do not wish to pay high user fees to get it? Well the good news is now you can with the aid of your MIDI instruments.
Custom ring tones have been popular ever since cells phones allowed users to change the ring. A new industry has sprung up to meet the demand for custom ring tones. As part of this industry a new type of MIDI file has been introduced called SP-MIDI.
MIDI began as a way for electronic instruments to interact with each other, and any computer can play MIDI files. Recently a group of interested parties came together, including Beatnik, Nokia and the MIDI Manufacturers Association, to create an adaptation of MIDI to work in handheld devices such as cell phones and PDAs. SP-MIDI provides the flexibility to both the user and the mobile terminal manufacturer to address differing customer needs.
Generally speaking, these new phones come with 8 notes but higher priced models have up to 32 notes. As you would expect with MIDI, the same SP-MIDI file can be played on any phone that supports it regardless of the make or the number of tones available. This is a huge advantage for people who switch phones periodically as now they only have to get their custom tones once. From there they can transfer the files to their new device.
Here are steps in the process of making a MIDI file SP-MIDI compliant.
1. Create the MIDI file.
As I am sure you have surmised, the first step is to either select a MIDI file on your PC or to record a MIDI file on your PC.
There are many software packages available, some for free. Nokia Audio Suite allows you to use MIDI sequencer programs such as Cakewalk to create SP-MIDI files.
Anvil Studio is an excellent choice for general MIDI work if you do not already have software. Anvil Studio offers plug-ins that makes the creation of SP-MIDI files fast and easy.
2. Streamline the file.
Now comes the musical and picky part. After recording a piece or opening a MIDI file you need to ensure that there are no more than 4 voices and limit the sound volume. You will wish to limit the number of voices to 4 as that is the default setting for portable devices and limit the maximum volume of the piece so that it can be played even with a low battery or if there is high processor usage.
Limiting the number of voices means reducing the number of voices present. With pre-made MIDI files this can be a little difficult. Some MIDI files download from the web can contain as many as 23 voices, so it is a matter of deciding what voices are not important to the integrity of the piece. For example you may be able to eliminate the soft flute voice in the background of the piece.
With the MIDI file complete it is time to audition the MIDI file with limited voices. For this Beatnik is an excellent software package that can be tried for 14 days for free.
Nokia licenses beatnik so you will be able to hear the piece exactly as it will sound on your phone. While playing back the piece ensure there aren’t any extra voices, swells in volume and that it sounds good.
3. Convert the file to SP-MIDI
Now things get a little tricky, as we need to generate MIP data to make the MIDI file SP-MIDI compatible. MIP data insures that the device will know which tracks are the most important. According to the Beatnik SP-MIDI Best Practices Guide “Each channel used in a SP-MIDI file requires a MIP value.”
The MIP values, which are entered in hexadecimal and added to the start of the file, can be figured out manually according to the standards, but it is best if your software does this automatically. The process used to determine the values for the MIP table can be found in the links provided below.
Once you or your software package have added the MIP data to the MIDI file all that remains is to convert it to SP-MIDI by saving the file as SMF format 0. Depending upon the software you are using this can be done by selecting ‘save as’ from the file menu or changing the options for format. Exact details can be found in the instructions that came with the software.
4. Upload the file
Now that you have created your custom ring tones it is simply a matter of loading them into your phone. Each phone is a little different so you will have to refer to the manual that came with your phone for exact instructions. With some phones the rings can be loaded directly from your PC into the phone. For other phones you will need to use WAP. With WAP you dial a certain phone number to connect to the service provides or manufacturers network and select the file to load. Often you must pay for this service but there are a number of free options.
With all that work done you now have your own custom ring tones that you can change any time you like. Have a little fun and create your own theme music that changes depending upon your mood if you like. The possibilities are limitless.