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Re: Fripp provides 4 seconds for MS

Wow, it's the new Robert Fripp album! It's 4 seconds long, costs $99.00
and comes with an operating system.

> Nov 10, 3:12 PM EST
> Long Process Leads to Short Vista Sound
> AP Business Writer
> SEATTLE (AP) -- Some musicians spend 18 months working on a whole album.
> At
> Microsoft Corp., that's how long it took to perfect just four seconds of
> sound.
> Of course, this isn't just any four-second clip. It's the sound - a soft
> da-dum, da-dumm, with a lush fade-out - that millions of computer users
> will
> hear every day, and perhaps thousands of times in total, when they turn 
> computers running Microsoft's forthcoming Windows Vista operating system.
> To set the right tone - clean, simple, but with "some long-term legs,"
> according to Microsoft's Steve Ball - the software maker recruited
> musician
> Robert Fripp.
> Fripp, best known for his work with the '70s rock band King Crimson,
> recorded hours of his signature layered, guitar-driven sound for the
> project, under the close direction of Ball and others at Microsoft. Then,
> it
> was Ball's job to sort through those hours of live recordings to suss out
> just the right few seconds.Fripp's involvement is not surprising. His
> occasional collaborator, Brian Eno, recorded sounds for Windows 95. Also,
> Ball, the Microsoft group program manager for WAVE - Windows Audio Visual
> Excellence - has in the past been Fripp's student and business partner.
> Ball, a self-proclaimed renaissance man who is both an engineer and a
> musician, considered the work of about 10 musicians for the project. Some
> of
> those people were influential in the final four seconds as well.
> Redmond-based Microsoft seriously debated several other sounds before
> settling on the final startup sound about three weeks ago. The rejects
> included a longer, lusher clip and a quick, techno-sounding piece. While
> many people liked an upbeat ditty with a clapping rhythm, it was
> eventually
> nixed for sounding too much like a commercial. Ball said the 
> also seemed like too "human" a sound when paired with the new graphic for
> Vista.
> "There's nothing that's especially human about our new Windows 
> he said.
> The short startup clip that was eventually chosen is meant to evoke the
> rhythm of the words "Win-dows Vis-ta!" and Ball hopes the sound will 
> as a calling card for the operating system. It also consists of four
> chords
> - one for every color in the new Windows graphic that appears as the 
> plays. It's no coincidence that it's also four seconds long.
> There are a total of 45 Vista sounds that Microsoft has spent the last
> year
> and a half perfecting, including the dings you hear when you get a new
> e-mail, receive an error message, or log off your computer. Generally,
> these
> are more muted, less jarring variations of the prompts familiar to 
> XP users.
> If it seems like overkill to go to all that trouble for a few seconds of
> sound, consider this: Microsoft estimates that the clips such as the
> e-mail
> alert will be played trillions of times in years to come. That's a lot of
> opportunity to annoy, offend - or, if the job is done right - please or
> appease computer users the world over.
> One major concern was that the startup sound not grow grating after a
> time.
> "You want a sound that people will love the first time they hear it, but
> it's a paradox to also say, 'Oh and by the way, we need people to love it
> the tenth, or the hundredth, or the thousandth time they hear it,'" Ball
> said.
> That's one reason he was glad to have 18 months to choose the clips.
> "We had time to live with the music," Ball said.
> Still, for all the time Ball has spent on the sounds, he says one measure
> of
> success would be if people noticed them very little, if at all.
> Ball is the first to admit that the percussive beeps in past Windows
> versions could be jarring enough to bother nearby workers or interrupt
> others in a meeting. With the number of intrusive sounds from cell 
> handheld devices and other gadgets only increasing, that's something Ball
> and his colleagues were keen to avoid with Vista.
> "We want you to know they're there, and you would miss them if they were
> gone, but we would like them to be just barely noticeable, almost like
> they
> are part of the environment or part of your wallpaper," he said. "We want
> them in the background, rather than the foreground."
>  2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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