Genesis of some famous sounds

Excellent posts in the Music Thing Blog about the way some of the famous sounds of everyday life were created:

Mac Startup Sound: Jim Reekes (1991)

“The startup sound was done in my home studio on a Korg Wavestation. It’s a C Major chord, played with both hands stretched out as wide as possible (with 3rd at the top, if I recall). This just sounded right to me. I wanted something really fat, heavy bass, high notes, and a sharp attack. The chiffy sound was from pan pipes and something like a stick hit (I’m testing my memory here). I wanted lots of evolving timbres, stereo phasing, and reverb for further richness.”

THX Sound: James ‘Andy’ Moorer (1982)

“There are various theories on the web about how the THX sound was created – some people say it was a Yamaha CS-80, others that it was a Synclavier. I emailed Andy Moorer to ask how it was really made. The short answer was ‘On a big-ass mainframe computer at LucasFilm’.”

Windows Startup Sound: Brian Eno (1995)


The thing from the agency said, ‘We want a piece of music that is inspiring, universal, blah-blah, da-da-da, optimistic, futuristic, sentimental, emotional,’ this whole list of adjectives, and then at the bottom it said ‘and it must be 3 1/4 seconds long’.

Intel Inside Sound: Walter Werzowa (1994)


The breakthrough came when he stared at the words ‘Intel Inside’ and started to sing them. He used 4ths and 5ths, because they’re the most common intervals worldwide. It took ten days to record. Walter is a big synth collector (he says he hasn’t got ‘all of them’). For the Intel sound he used 40+ layers, including a DX7, Oberheim OBX, Prophet VS, Emulator IIIx, Roland S760 and his beloved Jupiter 8, which was the first synth he ever bought. He used lots of marimba and xylophone sounds because they ‘sound corporate’.

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