All this week: The Tiny Music Makers

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the office and my friend Conor's Mac restarted. When I heard the startup sound, I suddenly wondered who'd recorded it, how they made the sound, and whether they got a royalty cheque every time a Mac crashed*. And what about those other tiny, instantly recognisable sounds, like the Intel chimes, or that cool THX noise? Since then, I've been forced to abandon my usual journalistic technique (type product name into Google, present results as my own), and actually make phone calls, read newspaper archives and… conduct interviews with real people. I hope you enjoy the results.
*Answers: A guy called Jim, on a Korg Wavestation, no.

RE: Microsoft Sound -- "The idea came up at the time when I was completely bereft of ideas. I'd been working on my own music for a while and was quite lost, actually. And I really appreciated someone coming along and saying, 'Here's a specific problem -- solve it.' 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 3¼ seconds long.' I thought this was so funny and an amazing thought to actually try to make a little piece of music. It's like making a tiny little jewel. In fact, I made 84 pieces. I got completely into this world of tiny, tiny little pieces of music. I was so sensitive to microseconds at the end of this that it really broke a logjam in my own work. Then when I'd finished that and I went back to working with pieces that were like three minutes long, it seemed like oceans of time." - Brian Eno

The page actualy contains the asm source code for making the beep yourself. If not you can download all the mac startup (and death) sounds in a handy little app.
The first Power Macs (6100/7100/8100) had a new startup sound performed by jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan.
Just a questionn....Do you like macs????
Does annyone here like macs????
they're good for resting your pc monitor on :)
oh thats wrong....
There was definitely a time (System 7.5 maybe?) when new Mac startup sounds were created by Steve Howe from Yes.

But that's obviously a dark period in the history of Apple computer over which we should draw a veil...
The only sound PC's could make were beeps until the Mac included a sound card with every machine (you didn't have to buy a sound card).

Basically, PC's are always 5 years behind the Mac - the ill-fitting dearth years of the PC nowadays can be traced back to the Mac's lowest ebb point in the 1990's.

And surprise, Vista looks like Mac OSX which will be out EXACTLY 5 years when Vista comes out.
5 years behind? I like how you use the OS as the benchmark for technology. That's brilliant. I work in a lab with both PCs and Macs. I know how to use both. I prefer PCs. I love hearing MAC users come in and ask if a thumb drive will work on a PC, or "how do I use this thing?"

It's those same people that are amazed that there are non iPod mp3 players in the world.

To me it just seems they are choosing ignorance.
I also work with both Mac's and PC's. I am a computer teacher (but I prefer Mac's) and it seems ignorance works both ways. I've heard that same thumb drive question but instead wondering if they worked on Mac's. And also staring at the Mac and asking "How do I use this thing?"
Ignorance? I remember my first day on the job at Microsoft in 96 when I accidently revealed I was a Mac user by saying I wanted to get a second monitor for my computer. Everybody in the room was stunned? "Second monitor? but how?"

Windows 98. Macintosh 88.

I also like the sign I saw there that had an Apple logo on it and:

... in response to filenames longer then 8 characters. What a freaking joke.
I use both a mac mini and Wintel pc for music production/remixing. I have no preference for either.
I have fun equally on both platforms.
As a graphic designer I use Macs for a living, naturally, but I've been using Macs since the 80's. The first PC I actually used was in the mid-90's and instantly noticed the differences. Everything about a PC had to be explained to me at least twice. Now that I'm grown up I know how to use both platforms, although the PC's in my office constantly give me problems and I need some IT expert to come and fix them and explain to me what went wrong. I just don't find the PC useful for anything except browser testing websites that I make.
Hi everyone ! Well, what can I say, I have worked on PC's for years and have earned a good living out of them. Of course I wouldn't have on myself, far too much trouble. One thing I would like to mention :- I have NEVER seen a studio with a PC in it. Everyone in the media ( proffesional that is, ) uses Macs. Is it the fact that they are more reliable, more stable and do not suffer from all the viruses the WinTel owners have to put up with, the reason why ? Ask yourself this :- What is the first thing you see, when you walk in to PC World ? The PC Clinic !!!!! So, is it a case of "Buy a PC, and WHEN ( note - not " if " !! ), when it goes wrong, we can fix it for you. Do you think Mercedes and BMW should try the same approach ? PCs today, are certainly better than they ever were, but they are so vunerable when on the web, I simply could put up with all the rubbish that gets thrown at them. I salute you all :- you are braver than me. Lastly, why has windows coppied so much from the Mac OS? Why have PC case makers tried to copy Apple's designs and why do Dixons sell translucent coloured kettles and irons ??Everything is i-this , i-that, Sony Vaios have an i-Link socket ( fire wire to you & me) What they should say is "i-have no imagination", "i-want to be and ipod, but can't" If you still think Macs are crap, why are they on every film going, why does your PC owe its existance to Apple, who do you think made the web happen for us, the public ?? ( nod to the original Unix boys too,) Remember PC lugables ?? Huge great heavy boxes !! Sorry mate, your laptop is the shape it is because of the Apple 100. I could go on... Last word, Mac OS 10.4 - 64bit. Where is longhorn ???? Intel are so fed up with Microsoft they have done a deal with Apple. Get the hint guys, get with the programme !!!!
Does it really matter which is better? Surely its a preference thing.. I used PCs almost daily for about 5 years, and recently I've been using Macs daily.

I rarely switch my PC on anymore as I just like OS X and Macs. Its not necessarily better, just easier and more fun for me.

Yes there are speed differences, which should be resolved when Macs go Intel, but after using OS X for a while I expect great things from Vista.

To question the above posts - I have seen PC's in studios.. I know graphic designers that prefer PCs... I've seen a Mac's BSOD.. PC designers copy Macs as the Apple Design Team has some fantastic ideas. Imitation is no bad thing.

Use what you like, and stop trying to argue that one is better than the other.. no-one can win that arguement.

Read this for a reasonable comparison
As far as a PC/Mac debate goes, it really comes down to preference. From what I have gathered, there is a distinc personality difference between Mac and PC users. The Mac generally has one way to accomplish ever process, whereas a PC has many. I am not saying that more is better, because all of the different methods for running specific tasks on a PC eats up not only memory, but also leaves considerable room for error. The Mac on the other hand (my iMac is a great example) seems to have only one way to perform each individual task. I don't like being restricted in that way because sometimes the way that the Mac software engineers have decided is the best way is awkward or difficult for me to access. I have never had anyone on a PC tell me, "No, you can't do that, it just can't be done." I have had people tell me, "Yes, you can do that with a Mac, but you have to do it this way."

I have used, built and maintained C's for years (more than I would like to admit), and I have never had a major problem with crashing, because I protect myself.

The main reason for the illusion of security on Macs is because everything is proprietary. Every piece of software and hardware available to Macs has been approved, (Probably by Steve Jobs himself) and is therefore less prone to issues with other programs. Also, due to the price of a Mac, the standard ne'er do well hacker/virus writer does not have the money to own a good enough Mac to suit himself.

I have a full professional studio running on a home made PC with an AMD 64+ Dual Core processor that runs circles around even the fastest Mac I have ever used. 4 gigs of dual channel RAM and 3 74 gig raptors running in RAID_0 makes it a premier system for writing digital audio data directly to a magnetic harddrive. (Much better than cache-ing it and witiing after the stop button is pressed.)

If you want to spend more on a pretty looking computer because it is easy to use and 'safer', then be my guest, but I will always prefer PC to Mac.

"One way" on a Mac? Quite the opposite, pal... and to generalize about people by what platform they use is a major leap in logic there, buddy.

That's great your studio has PCs, woo hoo! AMD Athlon blah blah blah... meanwhile the rest of us Mac users are creating, while you overclock your CPUs to run the latest graphics cards blah blah... sound card drivers... blah blah...

I am currently a strict mac user. I use my mac for everything from graphic design, recording, web design, and my finances. I prefer mac over pc because for one I have much more experience with them, but I also feel like pc's tend to be clunky and buggy machines that do require a large amount of maintenence. However I have done a little bit of work on some rather expensive sonys and dells that i was impressed with. Windows xp seams to be the most stable version yet(although it is still riddled with potential virus problems and subsequently annoying virus software. Usually everything on my mac just works. And if it doesn't Its rather easy to fix. Since the introduction of unix things have been just fabulous. If anyone out there is thinking of buying a machine, but has a bad taste left from previous macs, please give a good hard look at osx. but I think all that is off the subject? I really like what Mr. Eno had to say about making tiny songs. I find that when I am in the studio its easy to wander off into a 20 minute drift, or spend 15 hours fine tuning a 2.5 minute track, but I never thought of tiny 2-4 second pieces as a musical approach, let a lone a marketable concept.

check out this beastie boys remix I made with garage band for instance. it took about 20 minutes to make and it was rather fun and easy and the software came with my powerbook. (you can find the mix at, you need flash 8 and you have to scroll over the center of the atom.)

it was a real pleasure to work with the beasties(ha ha ha) actually I got the accapella from their website and you can too! check out google beastie boys and find there site. you may need qtime pro.
OS matters, really? all anyone has to do to turn any useful comment session into mush is start it up...

hmm... I usually consult the comments for "All this week: The Tiny Music Makers" before I make an 'intelligent' OS purchase!

ever heard of convergence? (see 'Evolutionary Biology') or how about projection? (see 'Psychology')
Congress should make a forum just for people to argue back and forth about PCs or Macs, and then make it a capital offense to do it anywhere else.
How in the whole world did this short article about "Tiny Music" so directly become a platform flame war? Com'on people. Don't you have anything to do? You seem use your computer to have something argue about. How about using it for work and play instead? Be happy you bought a computer with an OS you like / are acoustemed to / does what you want/need. And enjoy that others have done the same, whatever computer or OS that may be.
Get a grip, people! Reality check!
OS's don't matter... neither does platform. I just use whatever I need to do what I want to do. And I always boycott StarForce (cue DRM argument an d RIAA bashing)
I met the guy who invented the ASDA jingle, he IS a millionare because of it, and yes he does get royalties everytime that bit of music is played in he advert. bastard
Actually the Mac sounds for 7.5 were done by Trevor Rabin, not Steve Howe but close.
Let's forget all the hate, now that Macs can run Windows :).

Arguments aside, I think it's a great thing for everyone who has to deal with both platforms. As scary as a Mac can appear with the Windows XP boot logo on it, it sure is good that you don't have to pay for two computers now. I, for one, couldn't be happier.

Format an external drive as FAT32, and you can boot into either OS, and access all your audio data from any environment, being able to both read and write. That's something Apple has done right, I think.

Makes you wonder how Windows has transformed from a standalone OS to a complimentary overnight :).
Hi threre! Actually does it matter which is better? I use both a mac mini and Wintel pc. I have no preference for either to.
I've used both PCs and Macs. Using PCs for years it took me a little getting used to the Mac. One thing I will say, is that people who have problems with their PC and have to get an "expert" to come round and fix it are the people who don't know much about the PC.

for the passed 10 years I've never had a problem I couldn't fix, and so far with Vista, I've never had 1 problem at all.

Windows 2000 in my opinion is probably the most stable version, and i've used every version of Windows since Windows 1.1, including ME and Windows Mobile.

Windows runs as good as you know it, if you don't know it well enough, you're bound to have problems. But you could say that about anything. If you don't know how to ride a bicycle, you're going to fall off.
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