The Intel Bong

The Intel Bong.

Sorry about the delay, end of the semester and projects are adding up.

Ok originally, I wanted to write about the Mac Start Up sound first, but that has turned into an interesting journey unto itself. So I am going to hold off telling about that and start with the Intel Bong sound. I decided for the melody the Intel Bong sound would be a good fit. First, I needed to acquire a good copy. Strangely, despite poking a friend that works at Intel, I could not get a raw sample of the sound. So I ended up ripping the audio from a YouTube video. I even found a little history on the noise here.

What I found interesting about the sound and building a Sample Instrument is that the sound has been roughly the same for the past twenty years. The sound has the initial bong that is an Octave Chord and made up of sounds which are various tuned percussions. The sound then plays a rest of the short melody on a Xylophone or similar instrument with heavy reverb. Over the year some synth textures have been added to the background but it has roughly seemed to stay the same.

The largest problem with building the sample instrument was there were just too many synth textures going on to create a good loop. However, since I decided to use this for the melodic line this was not a problem. Because the melodies typical classical counterpoint, there were usually continuously busy not to need sustained notes.

In the end there was really nothing special about creating this Sample Instrument. This is most typical of what the inventors of sampling synthesis envisioned. You take a recording of a sound, and then map it to a key range and play your new sound. Unlike the use of Sample in terms of looping that arose with Hip-Hop.

In producing the melody line, I did a very informal survey just to see if anyone recognized the sound. What I found interesting, is even if people thought the sound might have seemed familiar, most people did not recognize the sound until I played the short Intel Jingle associated with the Intel Bong.

AS for the Alto and the Tenor lines, I settled on using the Vocoder version of the Intel Bong for the Alto, and a separate audio sample I found of a choir singing the bong for the Tenor.   I find the Alto the more interesting, because although I am not using the sound directly, I am using characteristics of the sound to modulate a vocoder’s synth.  So as this point, how would one claim that it is still the Intel Bong sound?  For the non-musically inclined, a vocoder is the stencil version of a sound.   In other words, it was like I made a stencil of the Mono Lisa, and then usedthat stencil and spray painted through it.


Edit:  To demonstrate that Intel does think there is importance in having a piece of signature audio, this is a short video I recorded of unboxing an Intel NUC computer, at the lab where I work.


Here is what I found interesting.  Intel build into the packaging of the NUC and optical sensor that triggers a sound chip.  Every time you open the box, you hear the famous Intel Jingle.  At best when a person unboxes a new NUC, they might hear it once or twice.  Intel still thought this most is significant enough to add the jingle to make it memorable.


About ForeverTangent
Currently a Masters of Computer Science Student at the University of Kentucky. Previous Masters of Entertainment Technology from Carnegie Mellon. Before that Graduated from Berklee College of Music. I have worked for Public Radio and the Video Games industry. Most of my interests now are UI and Accessibility Issues for Technology.

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