First of all, I hope this doesn't appear to look like a shopping list recommendation or anything. I am only asking to see if anyone is familiar with the sound, and whether it meant anything at all.

When I was little, I used to watch Sesame Street a lot. There was one particular episode segment that had a sound that sort of sounded sinister because of the way in which the subharmonics were being generated, so it kind of startled me at first, but my older self is more curious about it now.

So, if the sound were an A440, I'd hear a tone of around D-140. Now add a warbling effect, and a moderate slide in pitch going down a whole step. Here is what it sounds like.

It is approximately around 10 minutes into the video, just after Elmo asks how many elephants sleep in the bed before it breaks. The drawer appears to snore during the inhalation, but I am assuming that since it is an inanimate object, it cannot actually breathe, so I wonder if the sound being made during the exhalation cycle is supposed to represent the actual drawers rattling or something.

Also, another thing to note is that I am completely blind, so I was never able to see any way of knowing whether the sound effects were synchronised to any visual indications that were going on at the same time, so if someone could also clarify what that was, I would greatly appreciate it.

  • 1
    A description of the picture: The drawer is a single drawer unit with long legs, like a bedside table. It is rendered in the style of a child's drawing. We can only see the drawer pushing in and out of the picture from the bottom as though the unit is laying down just out of view. As the steady tone is played, the drawer is pushed outward, bowing out at the front like a balloon. As the warbling noise is played, the drawer front is sucked in and the drawer retreats into the table. When Elmo wakes the unit, it jumps up into view. with its drawer open and spits out a photo of a telephone. Sep 8 at 11:27
  • I can't speak precisely for this instance because I have no idea what the sound designer was thinking. However, the anthropomorphisation of inanimate objects is fairly common in children's media. I would suggest that this is just a softened, non-threatening representation of a snoring sound that has very little to do with the anatomy of the "Drawer" character. Sep 8 at 11:32

You asked "What kind of sound effect was most likely used..."
I'm pretty sure they used a cartoon sound effects set, specifically the beautiful Warner Bros. Sound Effects Library and I'm convinced you'll find it in there in some form. Maybe a couple of octaves higher or something. If not, you still get to hear some wonderful classic sound effects from your younger days! If you do find it, you'll have a basic description of what they used to create the sound. Whether it was a slide whistle or a spinning wheel or whatever.

...I just found one of the snoring effects [play] used in that very episode, which was taken from the aforementioned Warner Bros. Sound Effects Library. So I'm more convinced than ever it's in there.

Interesting examples:
(You can play them using the small media player on their page or use my simplified 'play' link)
String slide 2 [play]
String slide 1 [play]
Squeek spin 4 [play]
Squeek spin group

As for why they used that particular sound, only the person who used it could tell you for sure. But I don't think there's any unique story there. It's likely they just liked the subharmonic drawl of the down-pitched sample and thought it fitted the drawer's comical, exaggerated exhailing.

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