KDEvibes: sounds and jingles for KDE

Frans Englich frans.englich at telia.com
Wed Mar 3 19:26:30 GMT 2004

On Tuesday 02 March 2004 07:55, Artemio wrote:

This sounds of course ridiculus but I actually tried keeping the text small..

> Hello dear K developers!
> My name is Artemio. I'm a sound designer and music composer since 1994. And
> yes I'm a Linux user and hopeless KDE lover :-)


> I have just started a project that aims at creating brand new jingles and
> event effects for KDE. It is located at http://kdevibes.artemio.net/. I'm
> planning creating several 'sound themes' for KDE and I'm really up for it,
> you know what I mean.

Enthusiastic, compentent people like you, is exactly what KDE needs.

> Please don't judge all material too cruel. The work is always in progress
> and I will often come up with new and different stuff.
> Any non-bashing feedback would be appreciated. :-)

I have actually plans myself to go into the studio and make a sound theme("It 
is on my TODO").

I think it is very easy to forget the purpose of system notifications and 
doing an (excessive) over-design, afterall, it is very fun to do this kind of 
The purpose of system notifications is to be yet another communication 
"channel" to the user - when something happens a signal reaches the user, in 
the form of a sound. This sounds simple(ka dum bing), but is easily forgotten 
- the communication must be successful. Any communication overhead should be 
avoided - we want the user to think about the actual content of the KWord 
Document or whatever, not the sounds, the user just wants the work done(which 
can be applied in a lot of other cases in KDE...).

System notifications (for Desktop Environments) are tricky to do because the 
premises are not fun:

Problem: Usually they will be played on crappy and cheap built in speakers(as 
opposed to those fancy monitors/headphones)
Solution: Avoid much energy in the low frequencies(makes them burr/vibrate). 
Avoid transient sounds(not reproduced properly).

* Problem: The sounds must work in an office landscape and similar situations
Solution: The sounds must be discrete since other people will have it in their 

* They can't be (too) time/fashion bound. KDE's sound themes will stay for a 
long time. As a side note, if a sound is "characteristic" or has a certain 
fashion that could mean it is over elaborated - people's ears will get tired 
of it.
Solution: Simply avoid excessive effects/filters. Reverb, and other 
effects(for example, the typical Olsen Brothers/Daft Punk lead voice).

* Problem: They must communicate properly.
Solution: If a sound is too short people wont be able to identify it(so one 
can't say "small/simple" is the best). Similarly, if the sound contains too 
many quick tones that also makes it harder to identify(and people will have 
to think more).

* Problem: It should be possible to hear them -->many<-- times per day without 
finding them distracting, annoying or getting tired.
Solution: Though. The more complex(the longer, more instruments, faster 
melodies, effects) a sound is the more attention we must pay(we can't 
choose). Avoid transients. Much energy in low frequencies is often tiresome. 
Sounds which are too focus stealing also doesn't hold in the long run(for 
example, a quick sweep of high frequent tones). Another method is to create a 
consistency( a theme in all its aspects) so the sounds sound somewhat 
similar/have the same style, then people doesn't need to think so much.

As a sound engineer(and as tester) it is easily to focus too much on the 
sound(yes :) - something might sound very nice but users really don't care - 
they would get annoyed if an orchestra played for a minute every time one 
clicked the mouse(to get the point through). In other words, when that uber 
cool sound is created question:
* Will I bear to here that played XXXXX times ever day?
* Will it make the baby cry? :)
* Are the dog going to attack the computer?
* Will those hopeless speakers on the laptop handle it?
* Will my grand father/mother accept the sounds or reject them as too "moern"? 
(you get the point)

Further, one should keep in mind that 10/20% of adults(don't got the number at 
hand) have hearing problems - that simply must be taken into account. 
Fortunately, this is rather easily solved by aiming at a range of 
2000-3000Hz(tones in that range are usually rather painful but it should go 
in that direction) and avoiding keeping important/communicative parts in the 
low frequencies. Further, one should extra keep in mind to make the sounds 
easy to identify(above).
Perhaps one should not think "composing" but rather "usability engineering".

Food for thought :)

(FYI, new sound themes will very likely not be accepted before KDE4, the 
change is too big usability wise.)

> P.S. I'm not subscribed to the mailing lists I've sent this message to.
> Please mail me to artemio at artemio.net or tell me how to subscribe. Thanks!

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