Creative works



I have vivid memories of my landline telephone in the home I grew up in. It was an old-style shiny black rotary dial phone, with its own table, accompanied with directory and phone book, all situated in the entrance hallway. As I grew up, the home telephone changed size and shape, the rotary dial disappeared and replaced with touch-tone buttons, and then eventually it became cordless liberating the speaker from its fixed location. I realised recently that I had not used my current landline telephone in a long time. It had fallen behind some furniture and become caked in dust. When I came to use it, it felt strange and the sounds it made me curious about this somewhat endangered household object. I became fascinated with the dial tone sound and later discovered that landline dial tone sounds are not the same in every country. For some of my non-British friends and family dial tone pitches appeared to be a type of cultural sound emblem reminding them of home. The UK’s dial tone is a combination of sine waves mixed from 350Hz and 450Hz, while the North American is a combination of 350Hz and 440Hz. In this piece I have explored my landline telephone in all its glory and have tried to recreate and reimagine the sounds of that first home telephone I remember from when I was younger. Many thanks go to Conserve the Sound online museum ( for granting permissions to me to borrow one of their archived dial telephone sounds (name: Fernsprechtischapparat, Manufacturer: Deutsche Bundespost) and giving me insight into the world of disappearing sounds.