View Full Version : strange recorded sounds in music

General Joy
01-23-2007, 10:36 PM
I'm looking for examples of songs that sample really unusual sounds... preferably rock music from the 60s-70s, but I'll gladly hear any ideas. The sounds shouldn't just be an odd musical instrument, but rather something normally non-musical. So far, I've thought of the clocks in "Time," the cash register in "Money" (both by Pink Floyd), and the bull mooing in the background of Tori Amos' "Professional Widow." Can anyone name some more? The sound doesn't have to be the main focus of the song--it can be something really subtle. Thanks!

01-23-2007, 11:10 PM
I heard a Bob Dylan album once, and my friends were trying to convince me that the horrible noise I was hearing was actually a human voice!

01-23-2007, 11:12 PM
Sorry....seriously, check out the Beatles' later works....Sergeant Pepper, White Album, and the like.

01-23-2007, 11:21 PM
Rush's "Countdown" included audio from the launch of the space shuttle.

Also Pink Floyd's "The Wall" had helicoptors, didn't it?

01-23-2007, 11:59 PM
Jingle Bells sung by barking dogs?

01-24-2007, 12:57 AM
Tires screeching and glass breaking at the start of "You may be right" by Billy Joel. (though that was 1980, so might be one year too late)

more recently:

The sound of Daleks in "Doctorin the Tardis" by the Time Lords?

There are a bunch of sound clips from old movies in the album "Astro Creep 2000" by White Zombie

01-24-2007, 01:01 AM
Electric Light Orchestra had a song called "Here is the News" which had sound clips of news programs in it.

01-24-2007, 01:06 AM
are there sound effects in Kung Fu Fighting by Carl Douglas?

01-24-2007, 01:36 AM
There's a subset of non-musical sounds in musical recordings: backwards voices. There's an ELO song that has this (I forget which), and there's also a backward voice during the organ solo of "Gotta Find A Way" from Bloodrock's first album. I recall that these voices say similar things (they're both self-referential), though the Bloodrock one is more amusing. I can't think of any more examples, though I know there are more.

Someone mentioned Sgt. Pepper's. The song "Good Morning, Good Morning" has several farm animal sounds at the end: rooster crowing, cow mooing,...

Yet another non-musical sound, many rock songs feature cowbell.:D

Silver King
01-24-2007, 02:56 AM
Summer in the City by The Lovin' Spoonful has the sound of busy street life and cars honking.

The Doors tune Riders on the Storm starts with rain and thunder.

One of Santana's best yet largely overlooked releases is Caravanserai, which features the sound of crickets during the opening song.

There must be countless more examples, but I can only think of these three.

01-24-2007, 02:58 AM
Mi and Lau sometimes use weird things in their music.


Tish Davidson
01-24-2007, 03:22 AM
Amadou and Miriam's Dimanche a Bamako (Sunday in Bamako) has all sorts of traffic and festival sounds in it - trucks, kids calling in the background, sirens.

01-24-2007, 03:57 AM
Electric Light Orchestra and backwards voices - is the song "Fire on High"?

01-24-2007, 12:39 PM
"Momento Mori" - one of the proposed catwoman songs from the aborted "Batman: The Musical" used clips of angry cats screeching in it.

Meat Loaf's version of "It's All Coming Back To Me Now" has this horrid effect that's called a 'marion raven' in it.

Doesn't Enigma use a lot of effects that aren't exactly 'musical' for their work? I can't think of anything right off hand but their music is full of stuff like that - as is Frank Peterson's other works - such as the Sarah Brightman albums.

"If It Ain't Broke, Break It" also has a sound effect of breaking glass in it.

I've heard people play saws. Jug bands - kitchen sink bands.

In your time frame though, Cher's "Half-Breed" once had a crackling fire sound effect.

01-24-2007, 02:24 PM
Jefferson Starship's Blows Against the Empire (their first album as Jefferson Starship) is a concept album. One of the songs has a neat sound effect of a spaceship starting up and lifting off.


General Joy
01-24-2007, 10:59 PM
All really good answers. Thanks!

Silver King
01-25-2007, 02:24 AM
Underthecity reminded me of a couple more songs with spaceship sound effects:

Pink Floyd's Welcome to the Machine and David Bowie's Major Tom.

01-25-2007, 04:59 AM
I know this isn't 70's, but Beck has a lot of this-Game Bot and other bizarre sounds. Ministry used a lot of strange sound effects back in the 90's including movie samples, electric printers ("Theives"), and many other machine sounds. I actually do this quite a bit if that counts for anything. For some reason the motorcycle sounds in "Leader of the Pack" keep coming to mind. Another one, like "Riders on the Storm" with rain sounds was that old one, don't know the title:
Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain, telling me just what a fool I've been...
If anyone knows the title or artist, I'm drawing a blank.
Back in the 80's Foetus (J.G. Thirlwell) pioneered this sort of technique as a whole art form with songs like "Sickman" and many others which contain marching footsteps and breathing among other things.
Nine inch nails is probably the best recent example. He's used erasers "eraser", animal noises "ruiner", the sound of a subway train "suck", and many, many others that I'm forgetting. Speaking of trains, Life, Sex and Death used a train (in the song train).
They might be Giants spelled things in morse code in "pencil rain"...
I'll stop there, but there's more.

01-27-2007, 01:26 AM
Check out Fantomas and Mr. Bungle. A bit more metal than what you're looking for but still. Mike Patton constantly interchanges his music with seemingly random sounds. (cartoon voices, children laughing, anything you can think of)

Heck, they are random.

a tree of night
01-28-2007, 03:16 AM
Black Sabbath's War Pigs features air raid sirens. I know there are other songs, but nothing is coming to mind right now.

Would you count cowbells? There are dozens of songs with cowbells, if not more.

How about traditional instruments used in weird ways? e.g. Hendrix's panoply of feedback and other effects.

Cat Scratch
02-02-2007, 06:13 AM
An interesting story about a sound effect from The Beatles' Revolver: they wanted the sound of a gunshot in one of their songs (which one, I can't remember, sorry) and so they fired a real gun in a sound studio, but it sounded nothing like a gun as most people would perceive the sound. So instead one of the Beatles (again, I can't remember which one--I'm a sensational storyteller, no?) went to the microphone and made a "psssswwww!" sound that they used as the gunshot.

02-02-2007, 06:48 PM
Lindsey Buckingham uses a lot of non-musical sounds in his solo work so you could ive him a try…

02-02-2007, 06:59 PM
A few suggestions:

Brian Eno/David Byrne: My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
- Songs written to back excerpts from other recordings: an exorcism, a politician answering an irate caller on a radio talkshow, a revival preacher, that sort of thing. It's an amazing album; one of David Byrne's best, I think.

Scott Johnson: John Somebody
- Every song is based on repeated snippets of ordinary speech, with some musical backing. Not really everyday listening, but quite listenable, and very, very clever.

P.D.Q. Bach: all
- Peter Schickele made a career out of irreverent, hilarious parodies on classical music. He invented lots of goofy instruments like the tromboon, and made sounds out of things like bicycles and kids' toys. All in the context of "classical" music.

General Joy
02-06-2007, 10:46 PM
jbal, I like the "pencil rain" info..thanks!

poetinahat, can you elaborate any on the David Byrne album? Do you mean he sampled those sounds in his music (the sound of an exorcism, etc.)?

tree, I probably wouldn't count cowbells, but the Black Sabbath tidbit is a good one... :)

Sandi LeFaucheur
02-06-2007, 11:06 PM
was that old one, don't know the title:
Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain, telling me just what a fool I've been...
If anyone knows the title or artist, I'm drawing a blank.

"Rhythm of the Rain" by The Cascades

Sandi LeFaucheur
02-07-2007, 02:52 PM
Indiana Wants Me by R Dean Taylor. At the end, it has sirens, gun shots, and policemen saying "you are surrounded, give yourself up". And there's another one..Expressway to your love, or something, with suitable traffic sounds. Has anyone mentioned Summer in the City?

02-07-2007, 03:10 PM
jbal, I like the "pencil rain" info..thanks!

poetinahat, can you elaborate any on the David Byrne album? Do you mean he sampled those sounds in his music (the sound of an exorcism, etc.)?

tree, I probably wouldn't count cowbells, but the Black Sabbath tidbit is a good one... :)
Mostly, the sounds aren't sampled; they're edited or excerpted, making song-length versions of the scenes. The exorcism and the revival sermon are done that way. Others -- the radio call-in show, for example -- repeat various bits to give an impression of the scene. Still others are more ambient.

But this album isn't so much about sampling as it is about animating various scenes with music. More like, say, a series of four-minute soundtracks.

I really like this album; Byrne and Eno are a fantastic combination. Experimental, yet accessible.