For the past two months, New York City-based composer/songwriter David Nyman has been turning back the clock and making MIDI versions of popular and current indie-rock and hip-hop jams.
One of his most recent opuses is a MIDI version of Chamillionaire's "Ridin' Dirty", which reminded me of what it felt and sounded like to have one of those great, indestructible Nokia phones. Remember the snake game??
"I actually record them from scratch. I just pick the worst MIDI instruments, so it emulates the ringtone aesthetic," Nyman says. "I just listen to the song and figure out how to play it,"
His take on Arcade Fire's "Wake Up" sounds like something from David Bowie's Berlin period. As far as "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)" by the Talking Heads goes, I didn't realize it was MIDI.
"In The Aeroplane Over the Sea" from Neutral Milk Hotel is a stunning ringtone. I could see all the editors at Pitchfork downloading it.
There's a tons of radio hits and pop-rap to be heard too, from Nicki Minaj, Flo Rida, and a throwback from Destiny's Child.
"I have a very minimal recording set up in my apartment with a decently-sized collection of instruments, both real and software based," says Nyman, who also writes music for commercials, and promotional videos, including some work for a recent Chase Bank small-business ad. Eventually he hopes to score films.
You can also request songs for Nyman to make into ringtones for you, if he can swing them, of course. Has there even been a song that Nyman just couldn't bring himself to do?
"I tried to do one for Mumford and Sons, but it just didn't work," he says. "Usually the most popular artists are pretty ripe for ringtones, but not Mumford and Sons. Rap songs can be difficult if they don't have a melody for the chorus," he says.
Why were the Mumfords so hard to do? The banjos?
"I just don't like them at all," says Nyman. "There are so many other bands who can rock the banjo much harder and much better."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
I want to hear this every time I wake up in the morning. The power, the inspiration...