By Joe Sugarman

Is there anything more annoying than a bad ringtone?

The members of Chicago’s Spektral Quartet think so. That’s why the group has developed what they call Mobile Miniatures, a selection of more than 40 downloadable, original classical music compositions for your phone.
The tones range in length from a second to almost half a minute and are intended to alert users of incoming calls and texts. Several of the “thematically building compositions” are perfect tones to use as an alarm clock.

The quartet, artists in residence at the University of Chicago, raised money on Kickstarter to cover recording expenses as well as a modest commission for composers. (Definitely watch the group’s hilarious promotional video.) Contributors range from Nico Muhly (his Two Boys made a splash at New York’s Metropolitan Opera last fall) to Pulitzer Prize-winning Shulamit Ran, a faculty member at the University of Chicago.

“Our group has always been interested in publishing composers’ new works and we are also interested in presenting quartet music in ways that people can find entry,” says Spektral cellist Russell Rolen, who studied at the Peabody Conservatory. “We wanted to give people a way to hear this music outside of the concert hall.”

Of course, there’s an added bonus: If your phone were to ring during the middle of a concert, it wouldn’t be quite so bad, right?

To hear and download samples, visit the
Mobile Miniatures site.