Recreating the THX Deep Note

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Few sounds are as recognizable as the THX Deep Note. [Batuhan] did some research, and set about recreating the sound. The original Deep Note (mp3 link) was created in 1982 by [Dr. James A. Moorer]. [Dr. Moorer] used the Audio Signal Processor (ASP) (AKA SoundDroid) to create the sound. The ASP was a complex machine to program. The Deep Note took about 20,000 lines of C code to program. The C code was compiled to about 250,000 discrete statements to command the ASP.

Only one ASP was ever built, and LucasFilm owned it. Instead of recreating the hardware, [Batuhan] used SuperCollider to recreate the sound. Just like the ASP, SuperCollider is a tool for real-time audio synthesis. The difference is that SuperCollider is open source and runs on modern computers. [Batuhan] used his research and ears to perform an analysis of the Deep Note. He created two re-creations. The first is carefully constructed to replicate the sound. The second is a Twitter worthy 140 character version. Both versions are reasonable facsimiles of the original Deep Note, though they’re not quite perfect to our ears.

[Batuhan] isn’t the only person working on recreations. Deep Note in 1KB of JavaScript can be heard at  http://thx.onekb.net/. We’d love to hear other versions created by Hackaday readers!

[Via Reddit]

Comments

  1. ejonesss says:

    knowing the way copyrights are going today i wouldnt be surprised if a c&d notice comes up somewhere because i am sure that note is copyrighted.

  2. Ben says:

    Didn’t Dr Dre make his own version and still get into hot water?

  3. Irish says:

    I used to have Deep Note as an MP3 file set to be my Windows logon sound.

  4. Figureitout says:

    Damn sound always gives me goosebumps…but I like it :p

  5. Mr. Schurr says:

    My dad had a rackmount Peavey module that would do it but he lost the patch after archiving across a system dump across a midi line. I think he overwrote a floppy that had the patch.

  6. bytehead says:

    And then there is the laserdisc version.

  7. Chris C. says:

    I find it really hard to believe it took 20,000 lines of C code to originally generate this sound. Maybe if you’re including standard C libraries in your line count. Or exaggerating. Or getting paid by the hour by someone with deep pockets.

    • Eli Baum says:

      I thought so, too. But read this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_Note):

      The score consists of a C program of about 20,000 lines of code. The output of this program is not the sound itself, but is the sequence of parameters that drives the oscillators on the Audio Signal Processor (ASP). That 20,000 lines of code produce about 250,000 lines of statements of the form “set frequency of oscillator X to Y Hertz”

      So maybe that makes sense? And maybe (as you implied) they made it longer than necessary; unrolled loops, etc.?

    • Adam Fabio says:

      I’d love to know more about the ASP architecture. I wasn’t able to find much in the way of information on the subject.

  8. HalfNormal says:

    Looking through the Wikipedia info, I was able to find the track “Spaced,” from the 1970 Beaver & Krause album In a Wild Sanctuary as the source for Deep Note. It is on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xKO3KAtDZ0 at about 3:10 into the track. I wonder how Lucusfilms was able to copyright it?

    • Galane says:

      That is exactly Deep Note at the end of that track, 12 years before Lucasfilm did theirs. But who has the money and the lawyers, eh?

      Same kind of deal with Jane Yolen’s “Wizard Hall”, written a decade before J.K. Rowling’s “Philosopher’s Stone”, but who has the big money and the lawyers…

      • Blue Footed Booby says:

        The problem for Yolen was that her book wasn’t the first “boy goes to wizard school” story either. It’s basically a genre at this point.

        • Greenaum says:

          “The Worst Witch” has been running on TV for years before any Harry Potter books came out. It’s the same thing, only with girls at witch school. There’s probably versions older then the Bible. “Young Nebuchadnezzar goes to God school”.

    • ejonesss says:

      here is the http version of that movie

    • Whatnot says:

      It’s a crescendo but the final sound is not the same, so you think you can copyright crescendos? Maybe after TPP… :)

    • Chris C. says:

      There are some differences, but it sure sounds like the Deep Note was inspired by this.

  9. goo says:

    “The Deep Note took about 20,000 lines of C code to program.”

    Someone should have told him about loops. :)

  10. J says:

    I just hate that sound. It is ugly.

  11. ikeman says:

    This is still in a Galaxy far far away. But it is a good approximation.
    http://imgur.com/soQNDPj

  12. echodelta says:

    How Risset tones rising and falling ending on a octave chord get called “deep note” is beyond me. I was expecting the black note, darker than the brown one.
    One could program an analogue synth to make this sequence, easier to do in reverse. Just don’t use 30 VCO’s. I just set my guitar to multi-delay and run it into the DL-4 and use the reverse mode and let a big slide down to the nut.

  13. Steven-X says:

    If you wanted some background on Dr Moorer, here’s his website. I first heard about him when researching R-390 receivers and corresponded with him some.
    http://www.jamminpower.com/jam.html

  14. peterkozmd says:

    Q how is deep note not a rip off of the spaced track? Sounds awfully similiar not to be coincidence. Looks like a potential lawsuit

  15. Piezo says:

    I give it a try : https://soundcloud.com/ma-l-kerbiriou/deep-node-reproduction
    Mostly made in Python/numpy.

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