The history of specific sounds in electronic music

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed

As suggested on the other thread, I think it would be cool to have a thread where we delve into the history of specific sounds in electronic/dance music, so here we go!

I'd like to start with a specific "orchestral stab" sound that was very popular in house/Eurodance back in the late 80s and early 90s. You can hear it, for example, on this tune after the main melody has played, starting from 0:48 seconds:

U96 - Das Boot

The earliest instance of this orchestra stab I can think of is on the album version of "Sign O' the Times" by Prince. According to some article I read that tune was done with Fairlight CMI, so is Fairlight the original source of the sound? And who popularized it in dance music? I'm not sure if it was Prince, because you can hear the "stab" only twice on "SOtT", near the end of the album version.

Kinda related is the synth sound heard in the beginning of this tune, a sound which was also very popular in the early 90s:

2 Unlimited

It sound kinda similar to my first example, but it's no the same. Where did this sound come from?

Tuomas, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 13:52 (6 years ago) Permalink

Actually, I seem to recall Art of Noise using similar orchestral stabs than in my first example, which would make sense, since they were one of the first popular acts to use the Fairlight.

Tuomas, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 13:55 (6 years ago) Permalink

Fairlight CMI = orch hitz in '83.

cee-oh-tee-tee, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 14:14 (6 years ago) Permalink

YEs - Owner Of A Lonely Heart from 83 has orchestra hit.

the next grozart, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 14:24 (6 years ago) Permalink

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orchestra_hit

^^^ I thought that the Fairlight's orch hit was an orchestra that was brought in and recorded specially, but it's just a sample from a classical record.

Duran Duran's title song from 'View To A Kill'

Nick Rhodes owned a Fairlight, so presumably this is the actual CMI stab in action at the beginning of the track.

snoball, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 14:35 (6 years ago) Permalink

Intersting thread Tuomas. I can't provide you with any answers for the examples you've given, but there is another sound I've been wondering about.

I would describe it as a kind of rhythmic whooping that was used in a number of 90s rave records.

Best if I just provide a youtube link. It's the sound that comes in at approx 1min48

Digital Orgasm - Moog Eruption

I am using your worlds, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 14:39 (6 years ago) Permalink

there was a bass sound quite popular in early jungle/dnb tracks.
sounds like darth vader farting in a cast iron tub full of jello.
anyone?....

m0stlyClean, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 15:23 (6 years ago) Permalink

This is an early example of what you're talking about (comes in at 1.42).

chap, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 15:26 (6 years ago) Permalink

How about that xylophoney synth sound such as in Show Me Love?

chap, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 15:29 (6 years ago) Permalink

I would describe it as a kind of rhythmic whooping that was used in a number of 90s rave records.

really loved this one. also used on A Homeboy, A Hippie & A Funky Dred's 'Total Confusion' and Lost's 'The Gonzo' (both 1990), later The Prodigy's 'Rhythm Of Life'. thought it might be a straight vocal sample in the Lyn Collins "wau...yeah!" vein tho.

blueski, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 15:30 (6 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, it sounds like a speeded up vocal bit like the one in Lyn Collins' "Think" break, though it seems to have become popular in itself without being attached to specific drum break. I have no idea about the source.

Tuomas, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 15:36 (6 years ago) Permalink

I thought the Darth Vader farting sound in jungle/d'n'b was a continuation of the "Belgian hoover" sound initiated by Joey Beltram's Mentasm and developed further by Belgian hardcore producers.

Tuomas, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 15:42 (6 years ago) Permalink

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoover_sound

Tuomas, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 15:45 (6 years ago) Permalink

Okay, this is a question about a sample rather than a sound, but does anyone know where soundbite of a man saying "Cut the midrange, drop the bass!" originally comes from? It was used a lot in 90's German house and trance.

Tuomas, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 15:53 (6 years ago) Permalink

Presumably by "electronic music" you mean electronic club music, post '87. A lot of this stuff goes way beyond that, of course.

The ORCH1 sample (or one of its soundalikes) was one of the original sample presets in the Fairlight, it's all over '80's music as mentioned above. I think it's from Stavinski's "Firebird". The other Fairlight sample that got a lot of action in the '80's was "ARR1", a kind of breathy, un-natural voice sound that got used shitloads in TV soundtracks. Hans Zimmer was particularly fond of it as I recall. You can listen to it here:

http://www.freesound.org/samplesViewSingle.php?id=35890

I have an E-Mu vintage plus module that has it in, it's a nice sound!

There was also a pan-flute sound in the Fairlight, that AoN used a bit. Maybe it was someone blowing over the top of a bottle, I forget.

The other Sample sound that got a lot of use was an Akai one, the Shakuhachi. A breathy pan-flute sound with a striking pitch swoop in it, people really caned this one in the mid-eighties, it was EVERYWHERE, and it got old really quickly.

Another preset sound that gor way overused was a preset on the Roland D50 synthesizer called "digital native dance", I'll see if I can find a soundfile of it....eh, nothing, it was a bog standard synth pad sound with this looped rhythm wave following it, tiddly-tinky-tinky-plonk, tiddly-tinky-tinky-plonk, tiddly-tinky-tinky-plonk etc, you were sick of it after hearing it twice, but EVERYBODY stuck it one one of their rekkids, Michael Jackson, Dave Lee Roth, actually, here we go:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQ2kTBWkP3Q

"digital native dance" is at 1.44, though the guy doesn't really hold it long enough to hear the loop properly. The first sound in the demo, "soundtrack" got caned to death as well.

I guess what I see, pre and post '87 is people buying the latest hardware synth, and immediately using the most striking presets to death, it's kind of funny the way dance music got promoted as being some kind of rebirth of creative synth use, when it was just the same as before - spot the preset, like the Korg M1 piano that had a whole subgenre to itself ot the Korg M1 organ sound that you still hear from time to time, one of Kylie's big hits used it really prominently. I guess you don't get it so much now, people use softsynths and there's so many of them that you don't hear the signature preset sound thing so clearly.

Pashmina, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 16:07 (6 years ago) Permalink

"Hoover" being another "spot the preset" example! There was a time when you could pick Roland Alpha junos up for fifty quid and sell them on for 150-200 to DJs.

Pashmina, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 16:09 (6 years ago) Permalink

Did the little 'laugh' sampled at the beginning of Yaz' 'Situation' appear first in that song or is it originally from somewhere else? I hear it all over the place in house music.

sous les paves, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 16:12 (6 years ago) Permalink

Another one is the "supersaw" which was a new feature on the Roland JP-8000, an early analog modelling synth. If you selected it as an oscillator waveform, it made the sound of I think either seven or nine detuned oscillators all at once, and there were a couple of sliders you could manipulate to alter the detune depth and, er, something else. If you had a real stomping/driving trance beat going, playing the lead on supersaw would really push the track over the top if you manipulated it right. That one goit used to death as well, though TBH I never got sick of hearing it.

Pashmina, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 16:15 (6 years ago) Permalink

Supersaw in its natural habitat, euro cheese-trance w/fem vox:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8o2Z11eDAj4

Pashmina, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 16:17 (6 years ago) Permalink

Another preset sound that gor way overused was a preset on the Roland D50 synthesizer called "digital native dance",

The D50 is all over Jean Michel Jarre's "Revolutions" album, and that tinky-tinky rhythm - it's called "Clockwork" or something like that - is the first part of the opening track.

snoball, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 16:19 (6 years ago) Permalink

I couldn't stand the bloody thing at the time, everyone I knew who bought one produced shitty music until they got rid of it. It was the mush-machine, a terrible thing.

Pashmina, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 16:20 (6 years ago) Permalink

How about the metallic "bee yowngg, bee yownggg" in "AC/DC (Gangbanger Mix)" by Xpress 2? I'd never heard it before this track came out but it's hard to believe it was the first one to use it. Can hear it here:

http://www.trackitdown.net/genre/electro/track/635319.html

Tracer Hand, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 16:31 (6 years ago) Permalink

It's not very different from this, is it? Basically a synthesized version of the Jew's harp.

Tuomas, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 16:44 (6 years ago) Permalink

Only in the X-press 2 tune it's slowed down considerably.

Tuomas, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 16:45 (6 years ago) Permalink

Ha yeah, I guess so!

Tracer Hand, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 16:56 (6 years ago) Permalink

I can't come up with an example, but I'm pretty sure it's been used before that X-Press 2 track. Basically it's just putting your voice through a "metallic" filter(s), though I guess that particular track uses it more as an effect than as a voice.

Tuomas, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 17:06 (6 years ago) Permalink

Curious about "Cut The Midrange, Drop The Bass". I think the House Crew use is the first one and everything piggybacks on that, but what (if anything) it was from originally I have no idea.

Alex in SF, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 17:06 (6 years ago) Permalink

yeah the House Crew 'Message' acapella i'd be shocked if was the original source

blueski, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 18:57 (6 years ago) Permalink

yeah the House Crew 'Message' acapella is so cliche-ridden i'd be shocked if was the original source

blueski, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 18:57 (6 years ago) Permalink

where does the bouncy elastic bassline in Fingers 'Can U Feel It', 'Washing Machine' etc. come from? just an SH-101 tone or similar? such a great sound

blueski, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 19:00 (6 years ago) Permalink

Does Heard discuss that in Ocean of Sound? Can't remember if that goes into the specifics or not.

Alex in SF, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 19:02 (6 years ago) Permalink

I was thinking about this recently about with a lot of dub techno, take groove la chord for instance. exactly what are those chord stabs, exactly?

mehlt, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 19:44 (6 years ago) Permalink

How about the birdie from Pacific State (and many others)?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUhyFfuHGUg

bidfurd, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 20:07 (6 years ago) Permalink

What about the origin of the minimalist "clicks and whirrs" sound exemplified by Pole and other artists on his ~scape label? This tune from 1996 is the earliest example of this sound that I know of:

Nonplace Urban Field - Whimp

Can we credit Burnt Friedman for this sound? Or are there earlier examples of it?

Tuomas, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 20:08 (6 years ago) Permalink

According to Pole's Wikipedia page he came upon his signature sound in 1996, even though his first release is from 1998. So maybe he and Friedman already knew each other back then and mutually influenced each other? "Wimp" is certainly quite different than anything on the previous NUF album, released only a year before.

Tuomas, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 20:13 (6 years ago) Permalink

I was thinking about this recently about with a lot of dub techno, take groove la chord for instance. exactly what are those chord stabs, exactly?

In my own (amateurish) productions, I always do it by sampling a chord stab from a reggae/dub song (which is usually a guitar being strummed) and putting it through layers of fx. Piano chords work too. I have been listening to an old Johnny Osbourne album a lot lately and I recognize samples from it from a bunch of old Cari Lekenbusch tracks that have the dubby feel.

sous les paves, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 20:21 (6 years ago) Permalink

How about the birdie from Pacific State (and many others)?

sampled off 'E2-E4'? or from the same source as that i figured

blueski, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 20:39 (6 years ago) Permalink

http://www.synthmania.com/Famous%20Sounds.htm

naus, Thursday, 24 July 2008 01:58 (6 years ago) Permalink

Oh, and I remember once reading that the orch. hit on "Planet Rock" was from the Fairlight, but played across eight octaves or something…

naus, Thursday, 24 July 2008 02:17 (6 years ago) Permalink

KORG M1 Lore!!!!!!!11111ZZZZZZZZ///

cee-oh-tee-tee, Thursday, 24 July 2008 02:35 (6 years ago) Permalink

2 months pass...

that sound at the beginning of "beat it" is still pretty untouchable

has it ever been used anywhere else?

Tracer Hand, Friday, 10 October 2008 17:09 (6 years ago) Permalink

Don't have headphones to check, and I can't believe I can't remember this outright: you're talking about that giant Tubular Bell of Doom sound, right?

nabisco, Friday, 10 October 2008 17:32 (6 years ago) Permalink

most of the sounds in "Beat It" are untouchable on a purely textural basis

original dixieland jaas band (Curt1s Stephens), Friday, 10 October 2008 17:35 (6 years ago) Permalink

You mean the sound from 0:23 to 0:33 here?

snoball, Friday, 10 October 2008 17:40 (6 years ago) Permalink

Wikipedia says the gong sound in the beginning of "Beat It" was made with Synclavier. I can't recall any other examples of that particular sound, but since Synclavier was so popular back then it seems likely someone else has used the same sound.

Tuomas, Friday, 10 October 2008 17:41 (6 years ago) Permalink

http://ned.synthesizers.fr/audio.php

You can hear the gong sound played on Synclavier on this page, it's "extract 7".

Tuomas, Friday, 10 October 2008 17:43 (6 years ago) Permalink

7 months pass...

Is the high-pitched synth sound in Peter Gabriel's "San Jacinto" a preset sound in some synthesizer? I'm pretty sure I've heard it in some other tunes too.

Tuomas, Wednesday, 20 May 2009 13:11 (5 years ago) Permalink

Unless I'm hallucinating, I seem to remember seeing or reading some Gabriel interview where he talked about drumming on glass bottles and playing it on the Fairlight. I'd assume that any weird sound on that album is some Fairlight folderol.

Hideous Lump, Thursday, 21 May 2009 04:24 (5 years ago) Permalink

that preset sound, and it's accompanying sequence, is called "STEVE REICH IN THE 70s"

dan selzer, Thursday, 21 May 2009 04:29 (5 years ago) Permalink

One sound i like to know the origin of is this

The FM rhodes + <insert> pad sound heard in mid-to-late 80's to mid-90's R&B ballads

Example

Sherrick-Just Call
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3xfzp_sherrick-just-call_music

The Startrekman, Thursday, 21 May 2009 06:27 (5 years ago) Permalink

this thread rules, please keep it alive. (not like i know enough about old tech tech to contribute much. trevor horn to thread? max loderbauer to thread!)

pshrbrn, Thursday, 21 May 2009 07:52 (5 years ago) Permalink

this may be an obvious one, but can anyone tell me what synth mad mike used for his trademark string sound? like the one in "amazon"

a somnambulist in an ambulance (r1o natsume), Saturday, 23 May 2009 18:35 (5 years ago) Permalink

1 month passes...

Did the little 'laugh' sampled at the beginning of Yaz' 'Situation' appear first in that song or is it originally from somewhere else? I hear it all over the place in house music.

Okay, this is now driving me crazy! I'm almost certain that the laugh comes from some earlier tune, and that I've heard this tune, but I can't figure out what it is. Maybe some of you might know the answer, you can hear the laugh at 0:21 in the video:

Tuomas, Sunday, 12 July 2009 11:49 (5 years ago) Permalink

One sound i like to know the origin of is this

The FM rhodes + <insert> pad sound heard in mid-to-late 80's to mid-90's R&B ballads

Example

Sherrick-Just Call
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3xfzp_sherrick-just-call_music

Very difficult, partly because of the quality of the clip. As you say, it sounds like a DX 'Rhodes' mixed with a synth string/pad. With the introduction of MIDI it became routine to mix sounds together (both being triggered off the same sequencer track), so the pad component of this could be off another DX (or from another part on the multitimbral TX816), OR from another MIDI-enabled synth of the period.

dubmill, Sunday, 12 July 2009 14:40 (5 years ago) Permalink

1 year passes...

Did DJ Muggs of Cypress Hill bite his trademark squeal from this Divine Styler tune? And where did DS sample it from?

Tuomas, Friday, 6 August 2010 00:19 (4 years ago) Permalink

http://www.whosampled.com/sample/view/38924/Divine%20Styler-Ain't%20Sayin'%20Nothin'_Jr.%20Walker%20%26%20the%20All%20Stars-Shoot%20Your%20Shot/

Jr. Walker & the All Stars -

Shoot Your Shot (1965) was sampled in
Ain't Sayin' Nothin' by Divine Styler (1989)
Jump Around by House of Pain (1992)
Gimme a Break by Resin Dogs (2000)

Milton Parker, Friday, 6 August 2010 00:24 (4 years ago) Permalink

Thanks! It's such a recognizable sound it made think Muggs got the idea to use it for that House of Pain tune from the Divine Styler song. But apparently the similar squeal in "Insane in the Brain" is not the same sample...? (I remember reading somewhere that the squeal in "Insane in the Brain" is a backward sample of a bagpipe, but that sounds like a rap urban legend.)

Tuomas, Friday, 6 August 2010 00:30 (4 years ago) Permalink

I hate to question the veracity of Milton Parker and "whosampled.com" and "my ears" but "Jump Around" squeal is Prince, dudes

http://s0.ilike.com/play#Prince:Gett+Off:13720:s1423231.10273324.4077037.0.2.34%2Cstd_5ca3551422bc44fc95ec7866f16706c4

torch song trill o.g. (Whiney G. Weingarten), Friday, 6 August 2010 00:49 (4 years ago) Permalink

I can't believe this mp3 even exists

http://www.divshare.com/download/launch/10517798-075

Milton Parker, Friday, 6 August 2010 01:03 (4 years ago) Permalink

(hats off MeMyself&I)

the prince sample is at the same pitch, but if you knock down the jr. walker clip a half step it's definitely a more precise match

Milton Parker, Friday, 6 August 2010 01:11 (4 years ago) Permalink

But apparently the similar squeal in "Insane in the Brain" is not the same sample...?

I thought Muggs was just surgically raiding second-long peaks from old R&B horn squeals but apparently "Insane in the Brain" is a horse!

url=http://www.whosampled.com/sample/view/854/Cypress%20Hill-Insane%20in%20the%20Brain_Mel%20%26%20Tim-Good%20Guys%20Only%20Win%20in%20the%20Movies/

I want to believe! I fully trust everyone at WSW & wikipedia are dutifully inverting phase and summing to mono to check for cancellation every time they upload a discovery

Milton Parker, Friday, 6 August 2010 01:28 (4 years ago) Permalink

maybe this would be a good thread for me to ask: anyone know the source of this fingersnap?

&

one time gaffled 'em up (one time), Friday, 6 August 2010 03:31 (4 years ago) Permalink

maybe this would be a good thread for me to ask: anyone know the source of this fingersnap?

I think that may be a gated Linn-9000 sidestick. I remember reading that Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis came up with that sound on the Linn-9000 for Janet Jackson's "Funny how time flies". It sounds like it's gated through some kind of reverb with a long decay.

The Startrekman, Sunday, 8 August 2010 06:30 (4 years ago) Permalink

One sound i like to know the origin of is this

The FM rhodes + <insert> pad sound heard in mid-to-late 80's to mid-90's R&B ballads

Example

Sherrick-Just Call
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3xfzp_sherrick-just-call_music

Very difficult, partly because of the quality of the clip. As you say, it sounds like a DX 'Rhodes' mixed with a synth string/pad. With the introduction of MIDI it became routine to mix sounds together (both being triggered off the same sequencer track), so the pad component of this could be off another DX (or from another part on the multitimbral TX816), OR from another MIDI-enabled synth of the period.

Someone has answered my thread from months ago...

by the time the DX7II came out, the DX-7 Rhodes +<Insert Pad> sound was standard presets on it. After 1986-87, you were hearing that combo on more songs which was at the same time the DX7II came out. Other digital synths did this as well.

The Startrekman, Sunday, 8 August 2010 06:32 (4 years ago) Permalink

6 months pass...

Did the little 'laugh' sampled at the beginning of Yaz' 'Situation' appear first in that song or is it originally from somewhere else? I hear it all over the place in house music.

Okay, this is now driving me crazy! I'm almost certain that the laugh comes from some earlier tune, and that I've heard this tune, but I can't figure out what it is. Maybe some of you might know the answer, you can hear the laugh at 0:21 in the video:

http://www.youtube.com/v/wPiMbg4yVWk&fs=1&hl=en

― Tuomas, 12. heinäkuuta 2009 14:49 Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

Turns out the laughter indeed originated from the Yazoo song, the reason why I thought it sounded so familiar is because it's been sampled in so many tunes (including "Macarena").

Tuomas, Monday, 21 February 2011 13:31 (3 years ago) Permalink

Anyway, this question has been bugging me ever since it was posted in another thread:

Okay, theres this one sample of a crowd I can't quite describe, but it's pretty lo-fi, and is just kind of chattering and laughing. It's featured prominently in "Merrily We Roll Along" by Datach'i, and somewhere in "Maple Leafs" by Jens Lekman (I think it's that track), on the very end of "Return of The Gangster" by Outkast, and other places (I think I heard Belle and Sebastian used it too, but don't know).

Either way, what the hell is this sample that has been used so prominently, especially for something that's a just a field recording.

― mehlt, 23. marraskuuta 2007 5:05 Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

I listened to the Datach'i song, and I couldn't hear it there, maybe it was the wrong song? But you can definitely hear the same bit of crowd chatter on the Jens Lekman and Outkast tunes Mehlt mentions, and I think they both must sample some relatively well known record, otherwise it would be pretty odd for such an insignificant sample to appear in two very different songs. But I haven't figured out what the sample source is.

Tuomas, Monday, 21 February 2011 13:39 (3 years ago) Permalink

good idea for thread

fuck you jan stepek you kurwa (nakhchivan), Monday, 21 February 2011 13:44 (3 years ago) Permalink


You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.