Final Thoughts.

We made it to the end of the project, and ended up with not one, but two versions of Pachelbel’s Canon.  You can listen to them below.  The reason for two I will also explain below, but it does involve the three distinct areas I wanted to explore in this project. Those were: ‘Originality’, as what part of this project could be considered original. ‘Ownership’, as in who owns any of the various parts of what I created and how much. Finally, ‘Moral Right’, which deals with the intention of the work.

Final Audio

This version is using my recreation using the original Mac Start Up Chime voicing.

This version is using my recreation using the corrected Mac Start Up Chime voicing.


I think an important aspect of originality that is often overlooked in regards to this project is how originality is viewed. In general, society tends to view originality in terms of wholeness. Rarely does society regard incremental originality with the same vigor. So even thought this piece as a whole may lack complete originality, can parts of it be considered original? If so, how does one quantify that incremental originality? This is compounded by the fact that many tend to associate new and original with better even though that is not necessarily a true statement. For example, remember Coca-Cola’s attempt to introduce ‘New Coke’ in 1985. Despite the newness, the majority did not receive the product as better than the original. Compare this to the incremental improvement of the Aunt Jemima icon in 1989. Although the pancake mix products remained the same, the public embraced the new look of their icon as original and better, because it attempted to break racial stereotypes.

Obviously the music itself is not original, but are the sounds I used original? For the Intel Bong, although the sound existed unto itself, it did not exist as a sample instrument that I needed for the Melody tracks. I don’t know if anyone else has thought of turning the Intel Bong into a sample instrument, but if no one has, then by definition would not that act be original? So if that act is original, how derivative is it from the original tone? As I noted when I was making the sample bank, most people I tested by playing them the sound did not identify the bong sound until I played it in conjunction with the Intel jingle melody.

In regards to the Mac Start Up Chime, I did attempt to recreate the sound from the ground up. However, I was intending to create something that was identical to the original. So even though my process of creating the sound was unique, the resulting sound was not. In the eyes of the law, sound-a-likes have existed in a strange middle ground with regards to copyright. For a significant amount of time, sound-a-like productions were considered derivative but still original productions. However, this significantly changed with the Midler v. Ford Motor Co. The case Bette Midler brought against the Ford Motor Company examined the question of whether a distinguished feature can be protected as intellectual property. The case itself involved a series of commercials that Ford produced in which the background music featured a female singer imitating Ms. Midler’s sound and style. Eventually, the case fell in Ms. Midler’s favor; that distinguishing features are protected. So then, if I did not create a new sound, what are the defining features of the Mac Start Up Chime?


If something is going to be defined as original, then it needs to be quantified in some form to declare ownership. As I discovered, the Apple’s Trademark for Mac Start Up Chime is incorrect. I cannot say if this error would be great enough to invalidate the trademark should it be pressed in court [although my friend Chadd pointed out that if one had enough time, money, and was bored enough they could probably have a fun time with that]. However, even if it was enough to cause a loss of Trademark ownership for Apple, Apple still would not lose Ownership of the Chime itself. My guess is that the Chime as an audio production [similar to audio found on a record or compact disc] and covered by the copyrights and EULA’s intrinsic to using the OS X operating system, and there is extensive documentation of the use of the Chime in the marketplace. As for the Intel Bong, it is probably clear that is the Intel sound. Still, for the Alto line, in which I use the vocoder with the Intel Bong, one has to ask if they still retain those distinctive features of that sound even though I am applying them onto another sound. Would a Bette Midler case for ownership apply in this case?

Of course, ownership in the above cases applies to the outcome of previous endeavors. In regards to this project, as the creative entity, I did do the work to piece everything together, and I own the raw project files needed to create everything. However, would Intel’s or Apple’s ownership of the assets I used in the project entitle them to claim ownership over the larger work? This is a question that is often at the core of many copyright disputes. An infamous case of something like this happening is the story of The Verve’s song “Bittersweet Symphony”. Although Bittersweet Symphony is considered an original work by most of the public, it ended up being attributed to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards because of a audio sample used in the song from a derivative piece of work.

The only counter to the above point is the fact I specifically choose a song that is in the public domain to present the juxtaposition. How could one exert possession over something that belongs to the public? The problem still remains that one needs a quantifiable way to measure the amount of possession of ownership. But is there even a legitimate way to do that?

Take the recent copyright case between Robin Thicke/Pharrell Williams and the estate of Marvin Gaye. Joe Bennett examines extensively and quantifiably how ‘Blurred Lines’ and ‘Got To Give It Up’ are not the same song. Yet, even despite quantifiable reasoning, the verdict still went for the Gaye Estate. This would indicate that the human measures of ownership are more subjective when it comes to audio intellectual property. So even though I claim and agree that parts of this project definitely belong to other parties, is it possible to declare that as a whole, the project belongs to no one? Also who would administrate that which belongs to no one?


It is obvious that questioning ownership brings up a lot of questions, but a third area I encountered is that of moral rights of the piece of music. Typically, one would think that ‘moral rights’ would refer to the appropriateness of creating a work of art or not. However, in the art world ‘moral rights’ refer to the use and presentation of a work of art in terms of an artist intent. In the case of the project, it was a personal dilemma involving the integrity of the final product. An example is that an artist can create a work for hire; therefore ownership would ultimately belong to the hiring entity. However, if the hiring entity chooses to use the work in a venue or presentation that the artist found objectionable to the artist, can they still exert say in how the work is presented? For example, imagine if an artist is hired to paint a large mural. It would be a work for hire. However, if the artist learned the mural was to be hung in an execution chamber, the artist could wield moral rights if the artist held the belief that the death penalty is wrong.

Now, the moral dilemma I encountered in this project was not nearly as controversial. The dilemma I had concerns itself with why there are two final version of the song. If you listen to the first recording, one will notice that the music becomes quite dissonant at times; the second one not so much. The reason the first is dissonant sounding has to do with the Mac Start Up Chime. If you remember from the previous post, the Start Up Chime is not a single note but a Major Chord. Unfortunately, as the chord is transposed during the song, this major chord clashes with the chord progression of Pachelbel’s Canon, which contains two minor chords; the iii and the vi. So when the song is supposed to be in a minor chord, this first transposed version of the bass line actually plays a major chord, and thus is out of tune with whatever is playing within the melody lines. Fortunately, because I chose to recreate the Mac Start Up Chime from the ground up I did have the ability to correct what the computer was playing at those moments. This was actually a simple fix, resulting in the second recording.

The problem arises from my intention with the project. In my head, I wanted to use the Mac and Intel sound in as natural form as I could. However, in programming the music to play a minor chord for the Mac Start Up Chime at times, I effectively change the sound. Yes, the change is minor (no pun intended), but there is a part of me that considers the change enough that it is no longer truly the Mac Start Up Chime. This is because I have made the sound malleable, and the iconic sound is not malleable by virtue of being iconic. So the resulting music is better sonically, but I personally feel like I lost some of what I considered original about the project in the first place. Although, it is true that many would argue counter to that point that by correcting the dissonance, I created something more original; the intention of the project is now subjective. It is not exactly within the realm of what I consider the original idea but derivative. So I am left wondering if I even want to claim any ownership or originality since both end products are not what I envisioned.

After reflection on what was covered in class and this project, I was left with the question of which ethical theory best applies itself to digital audio. In regard to the issues I have wrestled with in this project, I think deontological ethics probably offers the best solution in dealing with intellectual property. The reasoning is that with deontological ethics, all actions must be judged on the intention of the act. To quote Ecclesiastes 1:9:

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

All acts of creativity can be traced to at least having an inspiration in something that has come before. The real question in examining originality and ownership is how does one quantify and measure that? As one can see with this project, although there are strong indicators, there does not seem to be a clear definition. Yet, somehow I think an artist intentions could definitively be seen as a guiding force in measuring.



The Mystery of the Mac Start Up Chime.

I first that to say this has been the most interesting part of this project.

My initial thoughts and inspiration for this project was to use the OS X Start Up Chime as a sampled instrument for the bass line. This idea came from an old article Tim Whitwell posted on his informative, no longer updated blog Music Thing. The article mentions a few tidbits on the iconic sound [which I will cover more below]. However, it was the article mentioning the Berlin music group Tranformer di Roboter’s cover of Michael Jackson’s “Stranger in Moscow” which was the inspiration to use the Start Up Chime as a bass line.

Jim Reekes created the iconic Start Up Chime. Jim was the developer who was a driving force behind a lot of the early Apple Sound Manager systems. One More Thing has a great interview with him. In doing research, you can find that Jim created the sound on a Korg Wavestation and [according to Wikipedia], the sound Jim used was a slightly modified version of the preset ‘Sandman’ patch.

At first I did want to do the exact same thing that Transformer di Roboter did. Grab sample of the Start Up Chime, map it to a sample instrument and call it a day. However, since the origins of that sound are actually quite well documented I thought I could do one better. From what I knew and learned about the making the Mac Start Up Chime I wondered if I could make a sound-a-like of the sound instead of using a straight sample. So I got to thinking. Since I personally own a Wavestation [the software version] that seemed feasible. This itself, leads to an interesting question involving sound-alikes. Yet, in trying to make the sound-a-like is where I think I made the most interesting discoveries regarding this project.

Before I go on, I need to direct your attention to a couple links. First, there is this YouTube video that has all the Apple Start Up Chimes from inception until 2012. Second, 99% Invisible recently did a great episode on sound trademarks, where they talk about the Start Up Chime. The biggest take away from the 99% Invisible episode is that sound trademarks are very hard to get.

Now, if you listened to the YouTube video from above of all the Mac Start Up Chime you will notice the tuning has dropped over the years. Jim Reekes, in the interviews states the original was a two handed C-chord [with a third on the top]. According to the Apple Start Up Chime Tradmark, the current chord is a G-Flat with Concert A tuned to 432.4.

So my initial plan was to:

Load up my Wavestation software synthesized

Tune the synth’s master tuning to 432.4

Input the correct MIDI notes for the G-Flat chord on a track

Hit Play

I would then have my own non-sampled sound-alike of the Start Up Chime.

However, the reality is much more complicated.

The first thing I encountered was when I played my WaveStation version of the patch is the current start up Chime is missing the distinctive ‘chiff’ attack of the Sandman Patch. If you watch the history of the start up Chime video above, you will notice the ‘chiff’ is present in the Quadra era, but disappears afterward. My guess is that Apple decided to remove the first half-second of the sound to save space in the boot memory. That solved one mystery. However, even though the texture was closer, it still seemed very thin and more importantly it was very out of tune with the information I had and pitch of the chord.

The voicing I played for the chord from the trademark never seemed to match the current Start Up Chime sound. After getting frustrated I decided to load the sound into Sonic Visualizer and see if there was something in the chord I was not hearing. The answer, yes there is something missing, or at least in the wrong order.

The picture above is melodic spectrogram of the Mac Start Up Chime. In layman’s terms, colored lines correspond to the strongest frequencies being sounded in a sound. In this case, they correspond to the sound being played. If you look at the voicing of just the first 4 notes [starting bottom-up], the most prominent notes are the root, a octave above the root, then then a fifth, then another forth or fifth [1, 8, 13, 17/18]. Strangely, it does not match the chord voicing listed on the Apple Trademark of the Start Up Chime. The trademark lists the chord as the root, a fifth above, a forth [giving the first octave above the root], and then the third [1, 5, 8, 11]. In fact in the spectrogram, it shows a clear absence of any note a fifth above the root [keys 68].

So at this point, I was a bit frustrated and baffled. After getting dinner with a friend, he suggested maybe I could write Jim Reekes and see if I could get any insight. I thought this was a goofy idea at first, but when I discovered he had a website, I decided to try anyway. To my pleasant surprise he responded a couple days later and verified pretty much everything I had come to suspect about the sound.

Probably, one of the most important pieces is that the Wavestation was only a part of the Start Up Chime. He mentioned it was actually a stack of several synths and patches. Although he did not remember the exact details, along with the Wavestation he remembered using an Oberhiem Matrix 6 analog brass patch to get a lot of the fatness in the sound. He also used various stereo effects, such as panning and phasing effects, as well as selecting notes and tuning the filters to enhance the sound along the overtone series, with the third at the top of the chord he played. So now had a better idea about the correct voicing of the chord.

He also stated the reason why the current chord is pitched lower then the original C-chord sound, is actually due to a bug by the engineers. Digital audio is supposed to be played back at a sample rate of 44,100 kHz. However, for various reasons the actually playback of the current tone is 44000 kHz, thus dropping the base pitch about a tri-tone to the current G-Flat.

Armed with all that knowledge I had enough information to generate a pretty fair sound-a-like. I ended up with was the following:

[OK, On second thought, that graphic is not nearly as impressive as I thought when I took the screen shot.]

The sound-a-like patch is composed of a Wavestation playing a modified Sandman patch that removes the initial ‘chiff’ element. A layer of Logic’s ES2 – playing a slightly modified Brass path, then two instances of Logic’s Retro Synth playing a modified version of the ‘Cheerful Melody’ path, and ‘Slow Swell Brass’. I then added an assortment of delays, other effects, and a Chord Trigger so that every time a note played, the correct voicing would play back.

In the end, I think I got something that is functionally pretty close to the original synth tone. I am sure if I have more time, I could get the tuning dead on, but with finals fast approaching one can only do so much.


Big Thanks to Jim Reekes for helping out too.


Edit:  I have added a couple of snippets.  One using the original Mac Chime sound…

and one using my recreation…


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.


Thoughts on Pachabel’s Canon

Thoughts on I-V-iv-V

One reason I wanted to use Pachelbel’s Canon, is because it has a very well known chord progression. The chord progression for Pachelbel’s Canon is I-V-vi-iii-IV-I-IV-V. As noted by comedian Rob Paravonian, it could be considered the first pop song.

There is some truth to that, because a shortening Pachelbel’s Canon chord progression one can easily derive the [in]famous I-V-vi-IV chord progression, which has been used in a lot of songs. Most famously parodied by Axis of Awesome in their song “Four Chords”.

However, one needs to know, that copying a chord progression does not mean a song has been copied. Music, like many arts forms, contains make aspects to define a work of art. In analyzing a typical piece of music one has to consider melody, harmony [which includes the chord progression], and rhythm.

I think a better question to ask is what is about the I-V-vi-IV progression that causes it to reappear in so many pieces of music. I think the chord progression encapsulates a journey, musically. I also think one of its strength lies in the fact that the first chord is the tonic, which works by giving the progression a center. In other words it is sort of the short musical version of the Monomyth.

The MIDI File

So the first thing I needed to do for this project was to get the music for Pachelbel’s Canon. Now, the initial thought was I could get a copy of the sheet music and enter the music myself. However, in the modern age we have the great invention of MIDI so I wondered if there was a MIDI file available. After doing a web search I discovered a few websites with MIDI files. Unfortunately, the first site [] did not have any MIDI files that matched the original arrangement. I did get lucky with the second site [] which did have a couple versions in the proper arrangement. In order to compare, I found a version of the sheet music here.

Now for sanity’s sake, I cut the Gigue section at the end of the piece. Mainly, because most of the time the audience never hears that part of the piece, and when people do they are confused by it. So what I am going to use is basically the generic 4-part arrangement that we as an audience hear at every wedding. The major difference is we won’t be hearing it 5 times, while we wait for the bride to arrive.

Introduction to CS-585 Final Project.

CS-585 Final Running Blog

This is just to introduce, to anyone interested, this is a reflection blog I will be keeping in part of the requirements for my CS 585 final project. The formal title for the class is “Science Fiction and Computer Ethics”. The class covers a variety of computer ethics issue using science fiction as a context for analysis.

For my final project, I pitched 3 ideas and Dr. Goldsmith decided that the third one was the most interesting. The pitch was to create a composition of appropriated samples, but instead of creating an original piece of music, to produce a piece from the public domain. The juxtaposition is, for the last 30 some years there has been continual controversy in modern music concerning ownership when modern artist sample other music. Do any of those issues continue to matter if you produce a piece of music from the public domain?

I will expand on the choice of music and samples in future posts, but for the meantime everything in the project should fall under ‘Fair Use’ particularly since it is for education use as part of a graduate level class project.

Feel free to leave comments, but I am not much of comment reader so don’t take it personally if I do not respond.

I am planning on publishing updates on my UKY Google+ and Tumblr [ @StaqueUKY ].