In the Press
Phoney art now at your fingertips
The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday, October 1, 2001
Copyright: your number's up
The Age, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday 4 October 2001
Claimed on Telephone Tones
Slashdot Wednesday 3 October 2001
Music and Phones
: All Things Considered for November 2, 2001
Audio Art in the Digital Networks
Southwestgerman Radio SWR2 Audiohyperspace
Sydney Morning Herald, Monday, October 1, 2001
now at your fingertips
By Claire O'Rourke
got your number ... Jon Drummond, left, and Nigel Helyer,
AKA Dr Sonique.
Photo: Simone de Peak
users be warned. Each time you dial a number, you have performed
a musical piece and may have infringed the international copyright
of the composers.
Jon Drummond and "Dr Sonique" have done the unthinkable - rubber
stamped the "melody" of every possible telephone number combination
as their own.
is a playful way of challenging copyright law, which Dr Sonique
- better known as artist Dr Nigel Helyer - says often benefits
the "corporates" before creators of artistic works.
"It is not
so much an attack on copyright, it is the way it is prosecuted
in the public domain," he says.
will be installed in the gateway lounge at the Adelaide Festival
of the Arts in March next year.
in Newcastle at Electrofringe, the new media component of the
This Is Not Art festivals held over the weekend, their
Web site www.magnus-opus.com outlines the project. Sixteen two-note
chords were thrown into an algorithmic generator, which produced
10 billion melodies.
"It is not
without reason, therefore, that we claim to be the world's most
prolific composers," the site proclaims.
it says, some of the melodies - copyrighted in 1974 in London
- correspond to tones used in phones, modems and other Internet
devices. Anyone can plug in their number and see if their melody
is in use.
If so, anyone
who dials it is infringing the artists' copyright. The site provides
application forms for licence agreements which can be filled out.
Helyer says, "turns the power relationship on its head". "It comes
from someone at the bottom of the food chain, speaking from the
point of view of someone at the top."
of the festivals, which end today, at www.thisisnotart.org
Melbourne, Australia, Thursday 4 October 2001
your number's up
Listen up, they've got your number. Australian composers Nigel
Helyer, aka Dr Sonique, and Jon Drummond have copyrighted 100,000,000,000
telephone tone sequences.
You might not know it but every time you dial a number, you
play a short melody.
With the aid of a computer, Helyer and Drummond have notated
the tones of every imaginable phone number combination and,
in turn, claimed the melodies as their own. Next time you make
a phone call, therefore, chances are you'll be in breach of
international copyright law.
If business can claim ownership over the elemental building
blocks of human life, the composers say it's only fitting that
artists lay claim to the "DNA" of business and are paid for
"We're saying to (big business), 'Okay guys, the boot is on
the other foot. If you really believe in copyright, you've got
to pay'," Helyer says.
"I think Mr Howard will be high on the list. Universities. Lots
of corporations. We'll go for it."
The composers say their Magnus-Opus is a playful way of lampooning
copyright laws that protect big business rather than artists.
You can check your home, work, mobile, fax or modem number against
their compositional database by logging on to www.magnus-opus.com.
If your number is matched, the melody will be played, the notes
scored and a direction given to complete the licence agreement
supplied online as soon as possible.
Helyer and Drummond, who've only just launched the website,
say they've had one offer of payment already. "An American guy
tired of direct sales people calling him has told us he'd like
to purchase the copyright for his number so that he can stop
them," Helyer says.
The website explains in greater detail how the composers went
about their creation by throwing 16 tone pairs into an algorithmic
generation to produce countless melodies.
"The whole telecommunications system is entirely musicalised,"
* Magnus-Opuswill be installed at the Adelaide Festival of the
Arts next year.
© Dr.Sonique and Jon Drummond