Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The N2FNH Sound Effects Library! Part 1: The Commercially Available Sounds!

WHENIWASAKID! From about the age of eight and on through my late teens, my one favorite pre-computer age geek thing to do was record sounds off the television with my trusty reel-to-reel tape machine. And there were several of those, each of which I used and used until they could be used no more. Among the recorders: a Wards Airline three inch reel-to-reel portable with a coily cord microphone, a Mercury five inch portable job, a fifteen pound WebCor seven inch vacuum tube machine, my father's equally tube driven Roberts and another Wards Airline Model Number GEN3659A. This last one I know the model number because I won one of those on eBAY, although at the moment that tape recorder is on display in a bedroom closet. My best guess is that I got the idea of making sound recordings from watching a 1955 episode of The Adventures of Superman. It was the story of "The Talking Clue"!

"Ray Henderson (Richard Shakelton), son of police inspector Bill Henderson (Roberty Shayne), has been using his tape recorder to "collect" weird sounds. Unfortunately, Ray is hoodwinked into selling a tape containing the sound of tumblers on a safe to gangster Muscles McGurk (Billy Nelson). When McGurk uses the recorded information to steal evidence against him in an upcoming investigation, Ray is implicated in the crime--and Henderson may be forced to
arrest his own son. If there was ever a job for Superman (George Reeves), this is it!"
Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Sitting here right next to me stuffed inside the drawers of a heavy 50's vintage office desk constructed of heavy pine are boxes of audio compact discs and rows of SanDisk and Sony digital memory flash cards. Down the hall in a side closet are additional volumes vertically stacked, all housing ten inch reels of magnetic tape. Each archive is host to a mini-library of sound effects which I have amassed for the past thirty years. This is what I may occasionally refer to as my N2FNH Sound Effects Library.

The aggregate inventory consists of recordings compiled from three principal sources:

1) Commercially available sound effects.

2) WAV and MP3 files downloaded from the Internet.

3) Sounds designed and home brewed in house or recorded in the field.

Sound effects published on both audio and data compact discs can be purchased by anyone and there are many purveyors of this product. The two major players are Sound Ideas and The Hollywood Edge. Both companies offer a bewildering array of effects, detailing just about any conceivable category. It should be noted that these libraries tend to be expensive but I have discovered that there is quite an Internet fraternity of sounds effects aficionados and fanboys along with their affiliated forums.

Here is what I bought with a ten second critique for each. From Sound Ideas,

1) The Hanna Barbera Sound FX Library
Five discs of almost all the best animation effects ever. I say "almost" because there were notable absences.

2) The Sound Effects of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends:
To truly appreciate this three disc set, you have to be closely in tune with what you have heard in the Jay Ward classics. Many of these effects were also present in UPA films. Again, some notable MIAs.

3) The Warner Brothers Sound Effects Library:
The big disappointment! Most are Foley sounds! Not on the list: the Road Runner's rocket jet sound and the Tazmanian Devil's wind up.

4) The Universal Pictures Sound Effects Library: A boatload of classic movie western effects. Every pistol, every rifle and every screaming PTWAAANG! you can imagine!
Missing: the original Frankenstein Thunder, in some circles identified as Castle Thunder, although various versions show on both the Hanna Barbera and 20th Century Fox sets.

From the Hollywood Edge,

1) CartoonTrax:
These are mostly unpublicized vintage recordings from Walt Disney Productions. There are quite a few unexpected gems clearly linked to Disney, along with many other unfamiliar sounds.

I have two additional libraries of note.

1) The Hanna-Barbera Library of Sounds:
An out-of-print two compact disc set version of an equally out-of-print eight vinyl disc set offered thirty years ago exclusively to broadcast radio and television stations. Unfortunately, these recordings are low quality, less common and mostly animal noises. With a digital editor though, these can be nicely cleaned. Some of the effects at large from the newer package
appear in this archive.

2) The O'Connor Crazies:
Still available for purchase! A comparatively low quality compact disc of Hanna-Barbera sound effects lifted from the Hanna Barbera Library of Sound and from a much earlier almost impossible to find vinyl offering from the late 1960's: The Hanna Barbera's Drop-Ins. Much cheaper now than when I bought it. Again, some of the sounds not in the inventory of the Sound
Ideas offering can be found on this recording.

So if you're a fanboy and I can only guess that this might be what I am then, like the Pokemon, you gotta catch them all. What follows is a bit of text on commercially available animation music that I lifted from myself from a forum dedicated to film and television animation.
There have been a number of compact discs produced in the last few years which have focused on the music of film and television animation. Here are just a few.

1) Hanna Barbera Classics - Volume 1
Rhino Records
Contains main titles, sub-titles and underscores from many first generation animation efforts such as Ruff and Reddy, Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear,Quick Draw McGraw, Magilla Gorilla and more. Many of the earlier recordings were sourced from the Capital Records Production Music Library. There is even one track which was also used as the underscore for My Three Sons. There was supposed to a volume 2 but I never acquired the disc.

2) The Flintstones - Modern Stone Age Melodies
Rhino Records
Here, all the vocals that were heard though out the lifetime of this program. While the vocals are great to hear, even better are the underscores and music cues that are sandwiched in between those selections. Included in the clear is the classic laughing music cue that was used anytime a big joke needed audio support. All the songs and music beds composed by Hoyt Curtain.

3) The Carl Stalling Project - Music from Warner Brothers Cartoons. 1936-1958
Warner Brothers Records
Carl Stalling was perhaps the best known and most creative music composer and director at Warner Brothers during their Golden Age. A combination of select music cues and full length music and sound effects features makes this disc a must have. There is even a clip of the Yada Yada sound in the clear at the end of one of the tracks - an easy lift to add to your own

4) Carl Stalling - Volume 2. 1939-1957
Warner Brothers Records
More fantastic Carl Stalling Music, again a combination of of individual music cues and full length track minus voices.

5) That's All Folks! Cartoon Songs from Merrie Melodies & Looney Tunes.
Rhino/Warner Brothers Records
This is a two disc set including full length features such as What's Opera Doc? and Three Little Bops and a massive 100 page booklet detailing behind the scenes activities at Warner Brothers way back when.

6) Warner Brothers Presents Bugs Bunny on Broadway
Warner Brothers Records
This album features newly recorded renditions of classic cartoon music by the Warner Brothers Symphony Orchestra but there are also some original audio segments on the disc as well.

7) The Best of WB Sound FX - CRASH! BANG! BOOM!
Kid Rhino/Warner Brothers Records
Some music, a lot of sounds from the commercial Warner Brothers Sound Effects Library for use at parties, on videos, computers and answering machines.

8) Toon Tunes
Kid Rhino
A compilation of television animation themes including the best Scholastic Rock song - Conjunction Junction

9) Music for TV Dinners - the 1950's
Scamp Records.
It is here on this disc where you will find a number of recordings directly associated with Ren and Stimpy, including Happy Go Lively - Laurie Johnson, Workaday World - Jack Beaver, Holiday Playtime - King Palmer and Stop Gap -Wilfred Burns (I believe this last one was used for a number of years on Bob Barker's Truth or Consequences). Many of these selections were sourced from KPM and Associated Production Music. Actually, when you think about it, it's amazing just how much old sound escaped the studio vaults and landed in our own record collections!


VonCheech said...

Great Post !

I would have never heard of The O'Connor Crazies if not for your write up.

I would love to get The Hanna-Barbera Library of Sounds and The Hanna Barbera's Drop-Ins... !

Thank you again !

Bill said...

Thanks for the kind words!
I have not seen The Hanna Barbera Library of Sounds - either the vinyl edition nor the two cd set.
Most likely they would appear on EBAY. The Drop-Ins...I did see a copy for sale doing a recent Google Search but it disappeared fast! The audio quality was not good but get a copy of the Oconnor Crazies...FX from both packs show!

WileE2005 said...

I have both the Hanna-Barbera Sound FX Library and the Warner Bros. Sound FX Library. I really love to use both of them in my productions (usually amateur videos I shoot with my camcorder or test animations), though I often find myself using the H-B sound FX more than the WB library (I do wish they included the spinning Taz sound! But one of the Road Runner jet sounds IS on that library, actually!) And I'd love to get the Bullwinkle sound FX library too (not only did Jay Ward and UPA use them, but DePatie-Freleng and Total TV/Leonardo Productions (the creators of "Underdog") and the Peanuts TV specials used 'em too!).

A note on the Castle Thunder sound effects: it's also available on the Network Sound Effects Library, also from Sound Ideas (on CD 85, to be precise). It has a good variety of variations, but the quality on this and the 20th Century Fox sound FX libraries is nowhere as good as the versions on the H-B sound FX library.

And I'd also love to find the Hanna-Barbera Library of Sounds. If I'm not mistaken, the LP set had eight discs. I think the CD set might've actually had four. But they're impossible to find, and I'd like to use them and try my hand at restoring them to excellent quality.

Thanks for making this post!

BILL N2FNH said...

Two company names come to mind! First, Producers Sound Service which used to be on Sunset Blvd in LA, not all that far from Jay Ward. I think they're out of business now. I once dropped by in the very late 70's and they had all these famous sounds on 35mm magnetic film. Everything was asembled on those old Moviolas! I know PPS did post work for DePatie-Freleng and the Peanuts Specials and they had many elements from HB, WB and Bullwinkle.

Also, there was a company called General Music. Another apparently defunct music and sound effects outfit. I believe many of the Bullwinkle and UPA effects *may* have come from this source, but then again, according to the commentary that came with the HB SFX Library, sound editors are like gypsies and move from studio to studio. They bring sounds with them...and maybe some sounds leave with them as well.

I'd like to see someone unearth the effects used by Paramount in all their 40's vintage Popeye and Caspar cartoons. There were some really distinctive sounds in that library too.

I do have the CD version of the Hanna Barbera Library of Sound but these CDs, along with the vinyl versions and the Drop-Ins...
Well, they're out there. Somewhere!

WileE2005 said...

Ah yes. Producer's Sound Service. That must explain why the Peanuts specials/movies and the DePatie-Freleng cartoons' sound effects libraries were virtually identical! They used quite a bit of classic WB sound effects, with various H-B and Jay Ward sound FX thrown into the mix as well (it might make sense with the WB sounds, since Friz Freleng and Bill Melendez both used to work for Warner Bros. Animation!) Nowadays whenever I watch "Bon Voyage Charlie Brown," I can't help but think of DePatie-Freleng whenever I hear the sound effects in that film.

Aside from the Jay Ward sounds, UPA also made heavy use of the classic Disney sound effects. Some of those UPA sounds that came from Disney can be found on the Hollywood Edge Cartoon Trax set as well.

If you ever get the chance, you should check out the PC adventure game "The Neverhood." There are clips of it on YouTube. That game was full of classic WB and H-B sound effects, all of which were directly taken from the Sound Ideas CD sets! The PlayStation sequel "Skullmonkeys" also used many of the old H-B and WB sound FX too. Combine those classic 'toon sound effects with Terry S. Taylor's haunting scores for the games and you have one unforgettable PC game soundtrack!

And if someone was able to offer the Hanna-Barbera Library of Sounds in MP3 format as a WinRAR or ZIP archive then I could get my restoration software out and restore practically the whole library to sound nice and clean!