What about sound design?

Hi there. A word to developers. I’m really interested, if there are any sound themes for Haiku? If you have any plans to have them, could you please post a list of sound alerts you’ll need, i would love to contribute some new original sounds. I mean pro quality in the studio.

Hi, I think the developers are only going to have one sound scheme/theme, much like there is only one GUI theme, but I can’t speak for them. You could try http://www.freelists.org/list/haiku-development for a faster reply from the devs, as they are not very active on the forums.

You could try working on the main sound scheme though as it seems it hasn’t been started on.
The buggy(gui-wise) sound preference app already shows some sounds events that are lacking sounds :

Window Restored
Start up
Key down
Key repeat
Key up
Window activated
Window Close
Window minimised
window open
window zoomed
USB device mount
USB device unmount

This is pretty much correct. There will probably only be one sound theme, certainly in the beginning. And the mailing list is definitely the best way to contact we Haiku developers :wink:

I don’t think we need sounds for ALL of those in the beginning. I think a good start up sound, beep and the USB mount/unmount would be a great start. For the start up sound I was thinking something involving Shakuhachi (a Japanese flute) or similar Japanese instruments or sounds would be good. The beep should not be too unpleasant, but at the same time the user should definitely know what it means.

I think creating some sounds for Haiku would be a very nice contribution and would be very much appreciated.

Please use the haiku-development for such as question. :slight_smile:

I think, for the system/warning beep, a short “trill” sound would be appropriate. It’s not unpleasant, but it does get the user’s attention. An example:


I created that sound in just a few seconds in Audacity. If you wish, you can use it in whatever way you care to. I’ve uploaded a .zip file with the original Audacity project file as well as a .wav and .ogg at:


It’s public domain so feel free to use it however you care to.

I don’t understand, shouldn’t we redirect such queries to the general ml instead? (openbeos@freelists.org)
There’s no hard rule, i know, but it seems more logical to me!

Now concerning your question:
AFAIK, noone started to work on the sound theme. I’d say, just start by making a few sounds (3 or 4) and post a link to a zip here or in the ML.
Thanks for the proposition!


This is off-topic. :slight_smile:
I know it’s not possible, because HQ audio can’t be there while booting up… But I recently revisited the TV series Lost and kept thinking, that it would be so cool if the 5 seconds bootup would look and sound like the Lost… “thing” at the beginning. You know, with the Haiku logo flying slowly by you with that quiet eerie sound coming nearer.

Now quickly on-topic. :slight_smile:
One thing I associate with Haiku is slightly electronic “nature”. So, IMO natural sounds like rain, wind, birds&bees with ever so slightly effects/distortions/etc. added would suit perfectly.

I’m sure everyone on and off mailing list will appreciate well done sounds. Just announce your plans there to keep everyone in the loop.

Thanks for taking care of that aspect of the OS, Anar!

Deutsche Haiku News @ http://haiku-gazette.blogspot.com

try this http://ar.share.geocities.com/dr250976/sounds/Rain-wav.tar.gz (its ok)
and this http://utopiavirtual.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_details&gid=4&Itemid=30 (bloody good, tho it is realist , and that maybe wouldn’t go with haiku)

Hey Guys, I am trying my hand at sound design. It’s a lot harder then I thought it would be, but I managed to make a possible start up for Haiku. I have rain in the background, but I used a piccolo instead of a Japanese Flute. You can check it out here:
http://www.unseenirony.com/misc/haikustartup1.mp3. If anyone needs it in another format, let me know.

I would love to hear any criticism you guys might have. It’s a really simple intro, which I think works, but if anyone has any ideas for additions or changes, let me know.


Personally I think it sounds a little bit “sad” you might say… I think it’s a combination of the rain (which is already a gloomy sort of sound), and the slightly somber notes (they don’t sound very upbeat, partially because they’re low, long, and drop in pitch after the first two notes.

Honestly, I’m not sure any background noise is a good idea, especially rain.

Anyhow, maybe not the criticism you were looking for exactly, and it’s all IMHO of course, as I’m certainly no expert on sound :slight_smile:

Okay, I can work with that. Some people in the forum said they wanted it to sound “natural” as in literally nature. I can try to make something a little more up-beat. Possibly move things up an octave and use a lighter rain sound. Do you think it needs any backing instruments?

There are many sounds from the real world that sound beautiful…but often associate too strongly when used in a working environment.
The risk is that you’d have something that doesn’t blend in enough with the rest of the OS. You’d have the user’s mind go from “hey, an error showed up” to “hey, a waterfall tells me an error showed up”, at a moment when the mindset of the user might not be open to soothing sounds, or in general to sounds that “focus out”…
In other words, it’d become (literally) disturbingly anecdotal.
Also, I think that while Haiku is in itself a Japanese word, one should stay clear from the use of sounds like water droplets, woodblocks, gongs, etc. which would soon turn the OS into an oriental cliché.
Of course you might still start from these kind of sounds when abstracting/distorting them electronically, or as an inspiration before taking place behind your -PC or musical- keyboard.

[quote=Meanwhile]There are many sounds from the real world that sound beautiful…but often associate too strongly when used in a working environment.
The risk is that you’d have something that doesn’t blend in enough with the rest of the OS. You’d have the user’s mind go from “hey, an error showed up” to “hey, a waterfall tells me an error showed up”, at a moment when the mindset of the user might not be open to soothing sounds, or in general to sounds that “focus out”…
In other words, it’d become (literally) disturbingly anecdotal.[/quote]

I definitely see your point and agree, but I seriously doubt anyone would use a waterfall sound or anything particularly soothing as an error message. But that doesn’t mean the OS beep needs to be jarring or irritating either. It just needs to get the user’s attention and let them know something isn’t right (usually something in their own actions.)

While there is a danger of becoming an oriental cliché, I don’t know if it is all that bad having Haiku inspired by that theme in various ways. After all, a lot of the ideas and themes from Eastern philosophy describe what Haiku is about: simple, clean, uncomplicated, zen.

Well that is probably more of what I mean anyhow. I wouldn’t necessarily want the Haiku start up sound to be a recorded shakuhachi and gongs, but having those sounds from a synth with a little extra flavor wouldn’t be so bad.

I just think that if there is not some sort of direction the Haiku sound design could turn into a big bike shed situation. Supposedly Microsoft had a team working for 18 months and involving famous musicians to come up with the Vista sounds. The start-up sound was particularly tricky and they ended up having some kind of committee vote to pick the final sound from a selection of 20. I just think at the moment we don’t need that kind of thing slowing down Haiku…

I listened to what you guys had to say and I made this new start up:

I made the rain lighter and had it fade for longer. I also changed the instruments, had the last note hold for twice as long and moved the entire thing up an octave. I think it sounds a lot better and I think it is a lot less “gloomy” but that’s up to you to decide.

Thanks for the feedback,

Hi, I would suggest to listen to this flash movie intro for inspiration http://www.ninjai.com/chapters/chapter01/ there are a lot of flute sounds. I think singing bird or rocky river would sound more happy than a rain IMO :slight_smile: Thanks for your efforts!

I think that having a river in the background would be a good idea. I don’t know where I could get that sound effect, but I’m sure I’ll think of something. What does everyone think of the notes? Is there anything people like about the start up, or should I come at this from a different direction?


IMHO the fact that you have to fade in & fade out ‘continuous’ sounds like those of rain, river, waterfall etc. makes them less suitable.
Because of their unclear beginnings and endings they sound too much ‘at random’ -even when used as a background sound.
Staying in the ‘aqua department’, for example the sound of a bucket of water emptied on a tiled floor or of a swimmer diving into a pool might be more suitable to work from.

A few of the extra system sounds on linux get their sounds from http://www.freesound.org/.

On a side note why do all the linux extra system sounds, sound like cheesy soap operas’ intro music bar “Borealis” ?

TBH, I’ve never been a fan of event sounds in the first place.

I’ll admit that a sound whenever an error dialog shows up is somewhat useful, and perhaps if we had a login prompt a sound played for that would be useful (sort of a “hey, i’m ready for your input before i can continue” indicator).

But startup and shutdown sounds just annoy the crap out of me personally anyway. They don’t add to the usefulness of the OS at all IMO, and often times play at inappropriate times (like during a company meeting when someone starts up their laptop, etc.)

So, while I know that some people love it when their OS “talks” to them audibly, I’d vote for a good short and simple alert sound first before any other sounds are designed.


You’ve got a point there, concerning startup sounds at company meetings…(how about inside libraries ;-)).
Perhaps a very short beep that can’t be mistaken for a system-beep is enough; one has to know if the speakers are working (Duracell did a good job with their three tone chime, BTW).
Shutdown sounds seem to carry even less functionality, I think.
And after all silence is very Zen…