I am really at my wits end. It's hard for me to enjoy music knowing that any moment a loud, three note ascending "toy piano" sound will suddenly burst into the center of my cranium without apparent cause or explanation.

I'm listening to music with my AirPods using iTunes on my phone.

This happens roughly once a day, but not at the same time.

I can not report with certainty the position of the sound/silent switch on the side of my phone each time. Today it was set to sound but I think that it is usually silent when I hear this, though I could be mistaken.

Nothing shows up on my phone, or apple watch, or MacBook. I didn't get a text message, I have no apps on my phone other than what came with my SE-2, I don't have open windows in any browser. I don't use notifications (would not know how to if I wanted to). Nothing is finished charging or has a low battery, nothing was added or removed from Bluetooth (that I know of), AirDrop on my laptop is set to be discoverable by contacts only, and the list of contacts on my laptop is empty.

Does the ascending three note "toy piano" sound have a well-defined meaning by default?

If this sound has a name and I knew it, and if it's coming from my phone or watch, I could try to reverse lookup to see if that tone is assigned to something.

  • iOS: i6.4.1
  • macOS: 10.15.7
  • Apple Watch: 8.1

Yes, these are all in need of updates.

  • note: have some patience with me and my challenges, while I'm ok in physics, math, and python, I find the Apple ecosystem incredibly confusing/challenging/frustrating probably due to a substantial dose of Aspergers. The same thing that makes it so easy, convenient and friendly to neurotypical people makes it opaque and baffling to me. If only there were a Python API...
    – uhoh
    Commented Jan 14 at 11:25

1 Answer 1


You mean this - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRZunRKmua4 - That's the default notification sound, used by a multitude of apps. It's actually in D, but goes 1, 5, 8ve. Bear in mind 'not enabling notifications' is really not the same as switching them off. They can be insidious.

There are apps such as Uber or eBay for which you might actually need notifications - but charmingly, they also use that permission to push adverts at you. You will usually only see these on the lock screen or if you swipe down from the top of the screen…

Here's a quick example - one of these was useful, actually an SMS, the other two a complete waste of my time. They all went 'biddl-ing'

enter image description here

You have to go down Notifications prefs & really hone them down one at a time to what you need to be able to nag you & what you don't.

I suppose, either that or switch on DND or a variant when listening.

  • 1
    Thanks for your speedy and empathetic reply! Yes indeed that's the sound. I have perfect pitch on a good day, but caught up in the soundtrack from Oppenheimer one can get a little disoriented. I see what happened now. I have this cryptic, unhelpful blurb that appears so frequently that I just now block it from my mind. AirPods Pro (2nd generation)... (2h ago) The owner of this item can see its location. Tap to open Find My and see available actions. I will try to research that and if I can't figure it out I'll ask a new question. Mystery solved! :-)
    – uhoh
    Commented Jan 14 at 13:15
  • 1
    I guess it's telling me that if I'm not the owner (I am) then someone else can track me, and I should know that. I'll look for an "OK got it" button to push, or some way to say "I'm the owner silly! You were right there with me in the Apple store when they linked these AirPods to you; don't you remember?" (fyi, this notification did cause me to sit up and take notice - though it turns out that the English message is nothing like the one in Chinese)
    – uhoh
    Commented Jan 14 at 13:17

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