Operating system music: how standard sounds and code are turned into full-fledged compositions

Previously we have already told about music “wired” in different versions of Windows OS: recalled the song CANYON.MID, for which there are a huge number of covers today, and the track Beautiful way, demonstrating the capabilities of the ASF multimedia format.

Today we will continue the topic, but let’s talk about a slightly different side of it – the music that is written by the users themselves. They take standard sounds as samples and even “sound” pieces of executable code using specialized software.

Photo: Ricardo Gomez.  Source: Unsplash.com
Photo: Ricardo Gomez. Source: Unsplash.com

Music alerts

As part of any operating system, there are sounds that notify about any event – an error, device connection or disconnection, low battery level, and so on. Each one is unique, concise and easy to remember, making it an ideal candidate for a sample. Unsurprisingly, this moment is often exploited by enthusiastic composers, and you can find many tracks on the net consisting of OS jingles.

One of them – with Windows sounds – recorded back in 2007 Robbi-985… At one time he did modding Windows XP bootloader and wrote several thematic programs… To work with samples, the author used ModPlug Tracker (now OpenMPT), with the help of which tracker music… It represents a cross between digital and musical notation, and uses pulse code modulation. At some point, the Robbi-985 track became cult and typed over 12.5 million views on YouTube. Some commentators point out that even after fifteen years, they regularly return to auditioning it.

It is impossible not to note one more track… Here, as samples, the author used the sound of a pop-up window with an error from different versions of Windows. Commentators under the video noticed that the composition resembles OST to old video games. Although the track was published in 2008, it continues to gain views to this day.

In general, the range of genres in which similar samples are used is limited exclusively by the imagination of the authors. Some even write ambient compositions. So, if you slow down the Windows 95 boot melody forty times, you can get pretty music

The calm pace and lack of harsh sounds make it ideal for listening in the background while working or seeking concentration for a hobby.

Core assembly music

It is also possible to make the operating system sound with the help of third-party programs – engineer David Paul (Devin Pohl). In the audio editor SoXcapable of converting any textual information into an audio track, he voiced the code executed during the build of the Linux kernel. In 2019, he even released a thematic album Sounds of the Compiling Linux Kernel… There you can find tracks with titles like Building SBCL and Building TensorFlow

At the beginning of this year, the engineer re-recorded and rethought the previously recorded music, and then “flooded” everything to a playlist on a streaming service… He also posted the code of his project on github… It is worth noting that the generated sound sequence can hardly be called musical and in any way pleasing to the ear (this admits and the author) – it resembles the much sharper sound of a dial-up modem. But even such unusual experiments have their own. Here, as always, the rule works: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Or in this case – “in the ears.”

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