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The story behind the creation of the lasergun sound in Star Wars

I was interested to come across your article about the Sound Design of Star Wars in which you  did discuss the work done by my son. I was pleased that it was accurate.

A recent article in Variety magazine had a number of inaccurate statements. For example it said,  he climbed to the top of the Golden Gate Bridge to hit the cables there to record a sound used for the laser guns. This was not true.

Actually, back in the 1970s we were on a family trip to visit his wifes family and were all in some gentle hills in Pennsylvania known as the Pocono Mountains. He was at that time always carrying a Nagra recorder and getting all sorts of sound for his collection.

We climbed to the top of a hill where there was a small radio tower in the hopes that the wind would make some interesting sounds in the tower or the support cables.  I picked up a rock and banged on the cable just for fun and Ben said,  "That sounds like the imaginary laser gun ought to sound!" 

SO he recorded the sounds there and later in California he looked around for other towers and finally found one that he especially liked in the Mohave desert in California. There was a broken brace hanging on the cable that added a special quality to the sound and that was the one he used in combination with some other sounds to create the sound of the laser gun.

Benjamin P. Burtt
Professor of Chemistry Emeritus
Syracuse University

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