“In this paper, we consider musical cell-phone ringtones as virtual, communicative and cultural performances.”- say the authors of a paper entitled ‘The Musical Madeleine: Communication, Performance, and Identity in Musical Ringtones’ - which is published in the journal Popular Music and Society, Volume 33, Issue 1 February 2010.
Investigators Imar de Vries and Isabella van Elferenat at the Department of New Media&Digital Culture of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, point out that that ringtones are “interpreted by variegated and dynamic audiences” and thus “…they establish stages upon which cultural meanings are portrayed.”
Going further, they argue too that the humble cellphone ringtone can be regarded, in some senses, as having similarities to Marcel Proust's famous 'Madeleine' (Remembrance of Things Past. Volume 1: Swann's Way: Within a Budding Grove.)
“…the musical ringtone functions as a musical madeleine in Marcel Proust’s sense, an involuntary mnemonic trigger of a complex web of individual and collective memories. Having this quality, the ringtone lends itself perfectly to the performative manifestation and display of (sub)cultural identities in the public sphere.”
Note: The researchers' investigations centred around a ringtone based on the track called 'Candy Shop' by gangsta rap artist 50 Cent.