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January 15th, 2013 | Audio Stuff, EarthBound, Uncommon Knowledge

A reader by the name of Iwant recent e-mailed me about trying to figure out where some of the sound samples used in MOTHER 2/EarthBound are from. Here’s the e-mail, along with the sounds in question for your easy listening:

Hi!

First things first, I really appreciate this site and the work you’ve done on the MOTHER series. If not for your efforts to make this series get the popularity it deserves, I may have never heard about it. And I wouldn’t be writing an article about it either! I’m indeed writing a rather large article covering the whole MOTHER series, which will initially be released in french but will also be featured in a translated version on HardCore Gaming 101 when it’s done.

So, why am I contacting you? Well, you see, I love sample-based music, so my love for MOTHER2’s soundtrack is no surprise. We all know about the creative use the game made of those samples… or do we? By exploring the game sound effects and fiddling with them in audio editing softwares, I’ve come accross a few intriguing occurences. You probably know that already, but what makes samples apparent in sound fonts is the fact they are more than just a stab/shot/keynote long, and that they have a distinct “lo-fi” feeling. And well… there are MORE of these than those we already know about.

I’ve edited them so that they sound more like what they would in their original context. I have no idea where they may come from, though… and that’s why I’m mailing you. Would you be so kind as to make a post on EarthBound central containing said samples, so that everyone can join in the hunt? When it comes to hunting down sample, having more brains is never too much. The involvment of the whole MOTHER fanbase would be of great help! I’ve included two versions of every sample to ease the research. So far, here’s what I think:

– First, the “woa” and “dont’t think” vocal samples from the opening. There’s something strange about their very existence in the first place: While all “voice actors” were credited in the staff roll (OK, Whistle, Belch, Venus, Mu), nothing is said about these two. Furthermore, there seems to be a small background noise on the “don’t think” one.

Woa sample:

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(download)

Woa sample (slowed down):

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(download)

Don’t think sample:

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(download)

Don’t think sample (slowed down):

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(download)

– Continuing with the vocals: The weird “wubble” from the background music of the Dungeon Man’s insides. If you slow it down, you can actually hear it says something. Something along the line of “welcome goldman”. I have no idea in what language this may even be spoken.

Dungeon Man sample:

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(download)

Dungeon Man sample (slowed down):

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(download)

– Going back to the opening: See the “Giyg Strikes Back” screen? Well, it does not only features the guitar riff of Mr. “Seeger” but also a distinctive background sound: When manipulated, it becomes clear it is sampled from a riot or something of the like. I thought it may be from The Beatles’ Revolution 9, but it doesn’t seem so. The people involved sound like they’re chanting a slogan, ‘cuz they all go “waaaaa-wa-wa-wa”.

Riot-sounding sample:

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(download)

Riot-sounding sample (slowed down):

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(download)

– And, at last, Giygas. Everything about him seems sampled. But two samples have attracted my attention: The electric-soundind thing from Giygas’ Intimidation and the aspiration sound from when he disintegrates. The first one is very unnatural when listened to and, when radically slowed down, it actually reveals itself to be a very sped up and high-pitched sampling of something like a submarine soundscape or a music from an old horror flick. The other sample, when sped up, actually sound like a chorus chanting or something of the like; not only that, but you can also hear it’s definetely cut off from something because of a tiny sound at the end of this sample.

Giygas sound:

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(download)

Giygas sound (slowed down):

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(download)

Giygas chorus sound:

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(download)

Giygas chorus sound (slowed down)

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(download)

So, that’s it. I hope this message reaches you, and I hope you will agree to take part in the hunt for these obscure samples’ source!


Now, I’ve already pointed out that the Dungeon Man sample is actually just Itoi randomly humming without realizing he was being recorded (and he didn’t know about it until 10 years later!) and that the Giygas sound was done by randomly taking some sound and then just pressing different keys until it sounded “voice-like”. Both tidbits come from this old MOTHER music discussion from 2003 that I can’t remember if anyone’s translated or not.

But I’m still just as curious as Iwant about where a lot of these samples might’ve come from or what they’re saying in some of them, if anything. If anyone has any ideas, feel free to share them in the comments!

 

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33 Comments to EarthBound Sound Sample Hunt


HpBoost said on Jan. 15, 2013

Looking forward to checking these out when I get home.

Saggy said on Jan. 15, 2013

I’d like to contact Iwant, I think there’s more samples I know about but am unable to actually extract. I don’t really have the technology to do what he’s doing.

Iwant said on Jan. 15, 2013

No problem! My mail adress is iwanttobelievexfiles[at]hotmail.com (yeah I know, very 90’s-sounding), I’d be really interested in what you’ve found on your side.

It doesn’t require much technology, by the way. There is an applet called SNESOR (which I believe is available through Zophar’s Domain) that does exactly that: Extract the sound font from a SNES ROM. You basically end up with a large ammount of WAV files that contains the instruments used by the soundtrack. Note that the samples are stored at unusual speeds; for some reason, the famous Sgt Pepper sample is stored in a very slooow version, even though it’s never sampled that way ingame.

Just a thing I’d like to mention though: The article has two “versions” for each sample, which is how it should be, but the second one isn’t necessarily “slowed down” ; it’s just a different-sounding edit to ease the hunt.

Vince said on Jan. 15, 2013

I have the EarthBound Soundfont, and several of the sound effects are “instruments” on it. The Don’t think sound is actually somebody (I think the “I miss you” guy) saying “infinity,” but the sound compression makes the f’s and t’s sound like sh’s and kh’s. The soundfont sounds a lot much cleaner than these sound files here…I wonder why?

H.S said on Jan. 15, 2013

Like Vince, I also think that sample is someone saying “infinity”. You can use the EarthBound music editor to listen to the instruments at various pitches, as they would sound in-game. That might be helpful with identifying some of the samples.

BlueStone said on Jan. 15, 2013

The first “Giygas sound” listed sounds a lot like something ran through an image synth. I didn’t realize which electric sound it was until I played it back at a higher pitch. I threw it in a program that could analyze the image if it indeed did come from an image, and when played back at the higher pitch, it kind of looks like a face, but I don’t have a very good program to analyze it with. Maybe someone with FL studio can give us a better image of it?

Saggy said on Jan. 15, 2013

@BlueStone

I have FL studio. If you can send me the files you have so far, I might be able to figure it out with the help of my friend who knows almost everything about FL.

My email is bluespagett@hotmail.com

BlueStone said on Jan. 15, 2013

Saggy, just download the wav file (http://earthboundcentral.com/misc/samplehunt/giygaswtf.wav), put it in a sampler track, and look at the spectrograph of it when you play it back at a higher pitch. My spectrograph has very low resolution and scale, so I’m still skeptical of it actually being a face. Also, I don’t know if digital photography was that accessible back in 1994/1995.

Saggy said on Jan. 15, 2013

@BlueStone I’m not too familiar with FL studio so I’m not exactly sure how to play it back at a higher pitch. I’ll figure it out though. So far I haven’t seen anything too strange with the file.

Saggy said on Jan. 15, 2013

http://puu.sh/1Oelt

what I’ve got so far without any pitch modulation.

jinxkatty7 said on Jan. 15, 2013

Yikes. I didn’t even know these were vocal samples except for the “don’t think” that I remember clearly from the naming part. I really need to play Earthbound again. This is really interesting… And some of those creeped me out. πŸ™

asdf said on Jan. 15, 2013

The “Don’t Think” clip almost sounds like it’s being spoken by the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.

BlueStone said on Jan. 15, 2013

@Saggy It’s not nearly as bright in my spectrogram, and the resolution is 128×100, so it’s probably just an illusion, but rotating it clockwise 90ΒΊ made it look sort of like a face half in shadow. Since it’s not detailed at all, I’m going to assume it’s just coincidence that it looks that way and is really something else.

Saggy said on Jan. 15, 2013

@BlueStone
puu.sh/1Ohen
I changed the visuals a little bit, changed it to 32-bit and 44100 sampling. I don’t think there’s anything really.

Opinionated Vector Chimera said on Jan. 15, 2013

I haven’t seen the “face” yet, but I think your assumption of coincidence is correct: http://earthboundcentral.com/2010/01/clearing-up-some-myths/

BlueStone said on Jan. 15, 2013

It’s still really long, or rather the playback is too slow. If you play it faster it’ll be more square-like and might look more like what mine shows. I’ll email you mine for reference.

Chimera, I’m not sure why you linked that article, but I wasn’t implying that the “face” had anything to do with Itoi (unless it as a picture of Itoi, as it seems to be a gag of the musicians to secretly include him into music).

Iwant said on Jan. 16, 2013

Some news!

I’ve received a mail from Saggy that somehow made me look closer to a sample used for “Giygas is fatally wounded” (“for” and not “in” since it’s entirely made of this sample)… and I noticed there were clear “skips” in its audio spectrum, like someone had messed with the machine that produced the sound. I’ve edited the sample to remove these skips and now I’ve got a way more regular and continuous sample that may be easier to use as a basis for searching its source material… I guess. I still have no idea what said source material could possibly be.

Anyway: The sample as stored in game, the sample as heard in the track, a “skipless” version of the sample and said skipless version sped up. Here you go.

http://www.mediafire.com/?6i7ybegay7mavs1

Note: As not to confuse you, this sampe is none of the two others that were posted in the initial article, it’s another one. And there’s YET another one left which is used in the intro just before the battle, but it just sounds like a lofi synth.

EBfan said on Jan. 16, 2013

Is it possible to track down the individuals who mixed the sounds? I recall during the “how it is made” in many movies those sound mixers always do really crazy things to get the sounds they want. We will hear something that sounds like a cat meowing and discover that the sound people actually dropped a piano onto a tic tac instead.

I guess what I’m wondering is how can these sounds be analyzed at face value? Is it that simple?

EnnuiKing said on Jan. 16, 2013

Oh man, I was just recently thinking about what some of the game’s sounds sound like at their default pitches and where they came from! Going to have to remember this thread for when I have a Soundfont-compliant computer.

The Giygas’s Intimidation sound reminds me of the “mysterious sounds” I’ve seen before on Wikipedia, like Bloop: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloop

Iwant said on Jan. 16, 2013

Well, it’s pretty hard to “guess” what a sound could be indeed, for the very reason you mention: Everything sounds like… everything else, really. Even making out what is said on vocal samples is often confusing, just like that “don’t think” / “infinity” thing. So, our best bet is hoping we come across some guy who recognizes something he has already listened to in one of these samples… I guess.

Regarding the “individuals who mixed the sounds”, I’m pretty sure Hip Tanaka handled the whole thing, and it doesn’t seem like it’s all right for him to openly talk about it because of the legal stuff we all know about. Maybe I should try to mail him, we’ve got nothing to loose from this after all.

Iwant said on Jan. 16, 2013

Ah, I hadn’t seen your post, EnnuiKing. And you’re definetely right, the Bloop is actually one of the first things that came to my mind when I hear the slowed down Giygas sample, which is also why I compared it to a “submarine soundscape”. Maybe we should check similar “unexplained” sounds, some of these were made public by scientific agencies before 1994.

EnnuiKing said on Jan. 16, 2013

I should’ve looked at the dates of those “unexplained sounds” before I posted one- most of them were discovered after the release of MOTHER 2. Whoops!

I do have another explanation for the particular sound, though – it was probably just something they cooked up with a synthesizer. Somebody mentioned an “image synth”, but things don’t necessarily need to be that complicated to generate a sound like that; just get a classic synthesizer with sine wave generation capabilities in the main oscillator and sample and hold capabilities in the LFO and mess around with that specific combination. Any program like Reason or FL Studios should have a basic synth capable of doing this, or you could even probably find a free analog synth VST and a one-VST host like Savihost and have virtually the same setup.

Iwant said on Jan. 16, 2013

Yeah, the possibility that they made these “samples” themselves is still very likely. That’s the kind of thing we’ll never really know for sure, I guess.

Opinionated Vector Chimera said on Jan. 16, 2013

Also,

“The other sample, when sped up, actually sound like a chorus chanting or something of the like”

It does sound like chanting. In the original game, before Giygas disintegrates (after praying 9 times), I can hear some chanting. *To me*, it goes like, “eeeeeeeh” and then a few beats, before looping, while a rather eerie noise plays in the background. I honestly can not think of an idea what the sample could be, but it does sound like the “chorus” was sung by women. …I’m just overanalyzing.

Also, the normal (not slowed down) Dungeon Man sample does sound like “welcome goldman”.

EnnuiKing said on Jan. 16, 2013

The other sample to me sounds like there’s a saxophone and a drumbeat going on the background in an 50s-60s R&B style. What sounds like chanting could potentially be a sustained note on a couple of brass instruments at once, but it also sounds pretty alien compared to what else is in the sample, so I’m guessing they mixed a couple of different samples into one for that one. Still, searching for 60s R&B music (or really any other kind of music that would use that instrumental arrangement from that era, like early funk/soul) could be prudent to find the underlying source of that sound.

The game’s musicians really took advantage of what the SPC chip had to offer. Most people just took whatever pre-arranged sounds they had from popular keyboards at the time to make SNES music, but Suzuki, Tanaka, and company really went out of their way to both make new sounds for the game and artfully arrange samples in a way akin to hip-hop music.

BlueStone said on Jan. 16, 2013

@Opinionated Tomato says at the end of the article that the “welcome goldman” was just Itoi randomly humming and didn’t know he was being recorded.

wiblish said on Jan. 16, 2013

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANkTtk0Kj7o
Video I made about Cave of the Past. I’m pretty sure the melody sampled ‘Glass Onion’ by The Beatles. Am I the only one who hears it?

Goldcheese said on Jan. 17, 2013

You should have a share option like YouTube has for your articles. Your page always has amazing information about a game we are STILL learning new things about. Awesome game.

BusterTheFox said on Jan. 17, 2013

I’m getting a lot of “File not found” messages on the sounds clips… I’ll try reloading the page, but is anyone else experiencing this? I can’t listen to most of them…

BusterTheFox said on Jan. 17, 2013

Okay, it was just me. ;-; But yeah, these samples are seriously… weird. It makes me wanna play through the Giygas battle again and really listen to the sounds and noises in the background. Maybe I’ll gain a new perspective on just how creepy it is. I wasn’t particularly fond of EarthBound until I came up against Giygas, honestly. It’s the final battle that really made the game for me.

Anyway, I have no clue what any of these samples are from. Although hearing the Dungeon Man sample knowing that it’s Itoi humming is really fun. I also find the chorus sample to be rather interesting. And also extremely creepy considering it’s played during the Giygas battle.

Starmyster04 said on Jan. 17, 2013

none of them actually sound slower to me. they just sound higher pitched. thats still neat tho

Iwant said on Jan. 17, 2013

Yeah, you’re right, it’s a little mistake in the article: They aren’t necessarily “slowed down”, just edited in some way.

SabithaSuki said on Jan. 19, 2013

To my ears, and with some prior knoldge, all spoken phrases are from Itoi Himself. The translations of the engrish is mostly correct. The one that is not here is the ” okay-desku” Witch is a bit more well known. Woah is self explanitory, and “dont think” may perhaps be “come think”, as its played in the naming portion of the game. As for the dungeon mans ” welcome gold man” I belive he is saying ” Welcome, go in” As this may have been inteded to be 2 files based on the tone of voice within the clip. Perhaps they were intended to be played at diffrent times but was scraped and dissorted into the wubble we know and love. Just a thought, I hope this helps clean things up πŸ˜€


 

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