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There are few sounds in the world that can calm me down as instantly as that of a freshly booted-up PlayStation. Any time I hear weird, ethereal jangling noise, it echoes right through to my soul and transports me back to the living room where I grew up. In an instant, I'm a little kid again playing Spider-Man at 6am on Saturday morning before my parents wake up and catch me. It was always more than a startup sound, really - it was a gateway to whole new worlds.
I can't imagine I'm the only person in the world who feels that way. The original PlayStation had a formative effect on so many of us, and hearing the crystal-esque chimes of the console starting up will undoubtedly have a zen, transformative effect on many. Have a listen to it in the video below. You know you want to.
That's the good stuff, am I right? But how exactly did Sony settle on this sound, in particular, as the noise that would greet players who loaded up the original PlayStation?
As you may or may not know, the iconic sound was designed by Sony's Takafumi Fujisawa, who also played a major role in the creation of the sound design for the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3. In a fascinating post on the PlayStation Blog from Game Informer's Jeff Cork, Fujisawa spoke a little about the inspiration behind the sound and how the final version came to pass.
After working on a number of demos, including one which actually included somebody whispering the word "PlayStation", Fujisawa decided on the classic version we know and love today.
"I started off with an orchestra like sound and added an ethnic style tone as the sound progresses," he explained. " I structured the sound so that the listener starts off stable and then feels a little bit off, so that the sound will create a strong impression by starting with an equal temperament and taking it to an original, pure intonation harmony."
He added that the sound needed to convey the sense of excitement that came with booting up the console, but also serve as a functional way of telling players that the console was booting up properly and was working as intended.
"My aim is to lead the sense of security when the console is turned on to the excitement after with the C major dominant motion showing the intention for continuing to be on the mainstream, the rich strings kick in and the last part features twinkling tones and setting the perfect 4th chords," he said.
"The function of this sound is to tell the user that the hardware is running like it is supposed to, and that the disc has successfully been read. To add, the swooshing reverse sound is designed so that it can go into loop if the disc couldn't be read, and we can understand if something went wrong."
Fujisawa said that he came up with the structure, selected the tones, and gathered the instruments in two weeks. Recording and mixing was done in "essentially two days".
"I kept thinking from the start that I wanted the sound image to be something exciting, like that feeling when you walk into a cinema," he finished. "I really wanted to communicate and reinforce that something fun is going to happen."
Mission accomplished, I'd say.
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