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  #51  
Old 02-08-2005, 10:19 AM
zut zut is online now
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All right, here's something that might be a precursor to that "Chinese riff": Check out "Chinatown, My Chinatown" from 1910 at Parlor Songs (MIDI version). The opening notes are definitely familiar -- not quite the instantly recognizable series you think of, but pretty close.
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  #52  
Old 02-08-2005, 10:33 AM
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If anyone has a University account with access to the Journal of the American Musicological Society, it would be awfully interesting to discover the contents of "Chinatown, Whose Chinatown? Defining America's Borders with Musical Orientalism" by Charles Hiroshi Garrett (linked page is an abstract; the full pdf is available to subscribers only). From the abstract: "[T]he song exemplifies turn-of-the-century musical orientalism as it was directed toward a local immigrant community. Yet the popular standard continues to resonate today in performance, recordings, film, television, cartoons, advertising, and the latest entertainment products. To account for the song's enduring cultural impact, this essay traces its history across diverse performance contexts over the last century. [my bold]" Tantilizing!
  #53  
Old 02-08-2005, 10:55 AM
squeegee squeegee is offline
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I think zut is definitely on to something. His cite seems to push back the riff to the early 1900's. Cool beans.

On the KFF front: it just popped into my head that Doobie Brothers' China Grove, released in 1973, a year before KFF, references the "chinese music" theme in the guitar progression. Not an exact match, but definitely a reference.
  #54  
Old 02-08-2005, 01:40 PM
blowero blowero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NattoGuy
Either I've misstated my position, or you've misunderstood it.
I believe it's the former. You said exactly this:
Quote:
there will be no instance of the precise tune you're talking about before 1974
What several of us now are telling you is that yes, that precise tune did exist before 1974. Whether you personally have heard other tunes that sound similar, doesn't change that fact.
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I think that, prior to "Kung Fu Fighting" in 1974, the tune in question probably existed. But it probably coexisted with dozens of such variants.
That directly contradicts your earlier post.
Quote:
It's like the people who say they remember seeing the Kennedy assassination on TV when it happened in 1963. They're remembering footage that was in fact released almost a decade later.
I understand what you're saying, but I disagree.
Quote:
It may sound presumptive of me to say that, but you're the one who said unequivocally that there weren't any variants of this fairly generic tune. Doesn't that sound really unlikely after thinking about it again?
That wasn't the meaning I was trying to convey. I was trying to refute your ridiculous assertion that, because you believe you have heard "variations" of the tune at some unspecified time in the past, that you can therefore conclude that it didn't exist in the form that we remember. Having other "oriental tunes" does not mean this one did not exist.
Quote:
Since we all know which tune is in question and it's basically one person's memory against another,
Actually, it's several people against just one, namely you. And even if your memory is somehow superior to ours, and you do legitimately remember "variations" of the tune (which seems reasonable) it still doesn't prove that the one in question didn't exist in its precise form prior to "Kung Foo Fighting".
Quote:
there's no sense in me posting in this one anymore. I just leave you with the fact that if you're to disprove my theory, you'll have to find an instance of the tune before 1974.
This isn't a debate.
  #55  
Old 02-08-2005, 04:11 PM
Sternvogel Sternvogel is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctorduck
Someone on the other thread mentioned Charlie Chan movies. Can anyone confirm hearing this song in that series?
I never saw any of those films, but I do recall (one of many variations of) the sereotypical tune appearing as part of the theme for the cartoon series The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan Check out the cast list on the linked page -- although Charlie is played by Keye Luke (perhaps the only actor of Asian descent to essay the role), daughter Anne Chan is voiced by none other than Jodie Foster!

I recall Jay Leno telling a joke which went something like this:

Quote:
You remember Bonanza? You know what always bugged me about that show? Every time that Chinese cook, Hop Sing, appeared, they'd play that stupid "Dum dum dum dum dum dum DUM dum" music, and then you'd hear the gong. How come when a white guy appears on the screen, the soundtrack doesn't automatically switch to How Much is That Doggie in the Window? or something?
  #56  
Old 02-08-2005, 05:54 PM
HMS Irruncible HMS Irruncible is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blowero
That wasn't the meaning I was trying to convey. I was trying to refute your ridiculous assertion that, because you believe you have heard "variations" of the tune at some unspecified time in the past, that you can therefore conclude that it didn't exist in the form that we remember. Having other "oriental tunes" does not mean this one did not exist.
OK, I'm not saying that it could not possibly have existed. But I'm sure, almost positive, that you won't find a named reference to it, nor a recording of it prior to that point. Before 1974 it was only one of dozens of similarly written Oriental motifs, with nothing to distinguish it from another. Musically speaking this borders on nonexistence. I admit I chose the wrong words but it's only because I thought the meaning was more than evident.

Quote:
Actually, it's several people against just one, namely you. And even if your memory is somehow superior to ours, and you do legitimately remember "variations" of the tune (which seems reasonable) it still doesn't prove that the one in question didn't exist in its precise form prior to "Kung Foo Fighting".
.
You're right. It doesn't prove it. It's impossible to prove a negative. The positive is easily proven, all you have to do is produce a recording or score of this precise tune. I'd have accepted a close variation, which Zut may have hit on above, but someone specified that we have to talk about this precise tune, with the precise sequence and rhythm specified. And because of that specification I've latched onto "Kung Fu Fighting." Let's call it "The Ubiqitous Orientalist Motif Featured Prominently In Kung Fu Fighting and Turning Japanese." Or TUOMFPIKFF for something short and easy to remember.

Produce a score or recording of it prior to Kung Fu Fighting, and you get to change the name. Bottom line... that's all that's needed here, unless you want to relent on your stricture that it has to be this precise tune. Under those relaxed guidelines we may be handing the trophy to Zut.
  #57  
Old 02-08-2005, 06:09 PM
Doctorduck Doctorduck is offline
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hmmmmm

hey look, i was able to view this thing that Zut posted, and it does give some hints, but it seems rather inconclusive.


...instead, “Chinatown, My Chinatown” relies on standard musical devices of the era: a short piano introduction and vamp; two verses and a chorus constructed with two- and four-bar phrases; and a syllabic, diatonic melody set to triadic harmonies and following tonal procedures. A significant exception, however, occurs in the song’s opening bars. Schwartz pulls open the curtain on Chinatown with a singsong rhythmic pattern, which also offers pentatonic hints on its way toward a major key. Significantly, Schwartz’s opening phrase resembles an extremely well known trope of musical orientalism—one of the most efficient that the West has developed to signal “Asia”—which employs the same rhythmic pattern, features an inversion of Schwartz’s melodic line (C–A–G–A instead of G–A–C–A), and shares its voicing of parallel fourths (Ex. 3). Such orientalist shorthand remains recognizable to twenty-first-century listeners, since these tropes continue to inhabit today’s popular music. (42) Thus, as clearly as the song’s title captures its subject, the opening moments of “Chinatown, My Chinatown” inform listeners that the song aims to fashion Asian difference.

(42) - For instance, The Vapors opened their pop hit “Turning Japanese” (1980) with an electric version of this riff, and their novelty song continues to mark Asian difference in recent film soundtracks, including Charlie’s Angels (2000) and Not Another Teen Movie (2001).



from:

GARRETT, CHARLES HIROSHI. Journal of the American Musicological Society 2004, vol. 57, no. 1.
  #58  
Old 02-08-2005, 06:27 PM
squeegee squeegee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NattoGuy
OK, I'm not saying that it could not possibly have existed. But I'm sure, almost positive, that you won't find a named reference to it, nor a recording of it prior to that point... The positive is easily proven, all you have to do is produce a recording or score of this precise tune....Produce a score or recording of it prior to Kung Fu Fighting, and you get to change the name.
Um, so would you say that a recording of, say, a Scooby Do cartoon from 1968, would this be sufficient or not? I ask because you seem to be distinquishing between a "recording or score" and everything else. If that's the case, I'd deem it incorrect -- the whole argument is that this riff was an ancient cliche at the time KFF was made, any an instance (or, better, multiple instances) from popular culture would tend to prove this was the case.
  #59  
Old 02-09-2005, 03:31 AM
HMS Irruncible HMS Irruncible is online now
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Originally Posted by squeegee
Um, so would you say that a recording of, say, a Scooby Do cartoon from 1968, would this be sufficient or not? I ask because you seem to be distinquishing between a "recording or score" and everything else.
"Um", yes. Being a recording, a recording of Scooby Doo, it falls under the rubric of recordings. Or, if you prefer, recorded audio, or captured soundwaves. Or a musical score that describes what such waves would sound like. Whatever. I hope I don't have to make an exhaustive list of things that qualify as a cite. The point is that I personally am not going to accept your memory, my memory, or your brother's memory as conclusive. What I'm saying in my rambling way is:

CITE.

Please. What's hard to understand about this?
  #60  
Old 02-09-2005, 03:31 AM
blowero blowero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NattoGuy
OK, I'm not saying that it could not possibly have existed. But I'm sure, almost positive, that you won't find a named reference to it, nor a recording of it prior to that point.
It doesn't have a name, any more than the "nyah...nyah, nyah, nyah...nyah" taunt has a name, or the little pentatonic riff that signals when the Indians are coming in old movies has a name. Next, you'll be telling us that Buddy Rich invented the "Indian riff" when he quoted it in "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy".
Quote:
Before 1974 it was only one of dozens of similarly written Oriental motifs, with nothing to distinguish it from another. Musically speaking this borders on nonexistence.
Nonsense. What, you think it has to be published on sheet music as the "Oriental Riff", available in stores everywhere, or it doesn't EXIST????

The fact that many of us, simply by looking at the thread title, knew exactly which riff the OP was referring to, distinguishes it. I was humming the tune in my head before I even opened the thread.
Quote:
Produce a score or recording of it prior to Kung Fu Fighting, and you get to change the name. Bottom line... that's all that's needed here, unless you want to relent on your stricture that it has to be this precise tune. Under those relaxed guidelines we may be handing the trophy to Zut.
The piano tune Zut linked to isn't the one we're talking about. It's similar in the sense that it's using the pentatonic scale to evoke an Oriental flavor, but the similarity ends there.
  #61  
Old 02-09-2005, 03:34 AM
blowero blowero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NattoGuy
CITE.

Please. What's hard to understand about this?
Dude - calm down. It's not like there's a "database of every motif you heard in every cartoon and t.v. show when you were growing up". We remember the riff. If you don't tough beans. Let me remind you that:

ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE IS NOT EVIDENCE OF ABSENCE.
  #62  
Old 02-09-2005, 04:27 AM
HMS Irruncible HMS Irruncible is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blowero
Dude - calm down. It's not like there's a "database of every motif you heard in every cartoon and t.v. show when you were growing up". We remember the riff. If you don't tough beans. Let me remind you that:

ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE IS NOT EVIDENCE OF ABSENCE.
Look... I'm trying really hard not to get snarky here. This is GQ right? We're looking for a factual answer to a factual question, right? That's all I'm driving at. I'm not claiming evidence of absence and I wish you wouldn't pretend that I did so. However, I feel entirely comfortable invoking absence of evidence at this point. I think if we got a mod involved, they'd back me up in saying that "some dude's memory" doesn't count as a cite.

And since misunderstanding continues, I never asked for anyone to come up with a score or recording consisting solely of these few bars of music. All I asked was was for someone to turn up a named musical work (named, and therefore dateable) where this riff could be identified by listening or reading music. I cited the earliest one I know of, it's freely available on line, it's undisputably the earliest solid evidence we have. I made a good faith effort to dig up something that would prove me wrong, for heaven's sake. I think I've played a pretty fair game here. I don't understand why people are so resistant to a request for a cite.
  #63  
Old 02-09-2005, 05:08 AM
blowero blowero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NattoGuy
That's all I'm driving at. I'm not claiming evidence of absence and I wish you wouldn't pretend that I did so. However, I feel entirely comfortable invoking absence of evidence at this point.
I don't think you understand what the expression means. Maybe an example will help:

A few years ago, snopes.com ran an article about an alleged incident that happened on the Newlywed Show, where a contestant said the "most unusual place she and her husband ever made love", was "in the ass". Snopes claimed that the incident never happened, reasoning that since they couldn't turn up a tape of it, that it therefore didn't occur. They used the same "false memory" reasoning that you are using, that people only thought they remembered it.

Guess what happened? A tape DID turn up, and Snopes had to retract what they said. That's what we mean by "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Just because they couldn't find the tape didn't mean it never happened.
  #64  
Old 02-09-2005, 05:24 AM
GuanoLad GuanoLad is offline
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I think you'll find this piece of music has origins in vaudeville and pantomime as a generic tune, alongside hundreds of similar generic tunes, that represent cultures or situations. Meaning it's existed for at least 100 years and its origins are now lost in the mists of time.
  #65  
Old 02-09-2005, 06:09 AM
HMS Irruncible HMS Irruncible is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blowero
I don't think you understand what the expression means. Maybe an example will help:

A few years ago, snopes.com ran an article about an alleged incident that happened on the Newlywed Show, where a contestant said the "most unusual place she and her husband ever made love", was "in the ass". Snopes claimed that the incident never happened, reasoning that since they couldn't turn up a tape of it, that it therefore didn't occur. They used the same "false memory" reasoning that you are using, that people only thought they remembered it.

Guess what happened? A tape DID turn up, and Snopes had to retract what they said. That's what we mean by "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Just because they couldn't find the tape didn't mean it never happened.
OK, that's a fantastic example. Pure genius. Let's run with that. Let's look at the corrected Snopes article now and gain both enlightenment and perspective:

Quote:
Is this the "smoking gun" urban legend aficionados have been waiting for? It's hard to say for sure, because some of the key details of this clip don't match the details of the legend. [bolding added]. The overwhelming majority of people who claim they saw this episode air stated that the couple was black, and that the woman's response was "That would be in the butt, Bob" (or some similar dialectal version, such as "That'd be the butt, Bob," "Up da butt, Bob" or "It be the butt, Bob"). Neither Hank nor Olga — nor any of the other couples on the show that day — was black, and Olga's response didn't correspond to either the structure or the phrasing of the legendary answer (i.e., she didn't use the word "butt," end her answer with "Bob," or phrase it as a declarative)...
And the article goes on to say that in addition to misremembering the race of the couple involved, other variations of the story place the occurrence in radio stations in Australia and Chicago as well.

In other words... the tape proved that they misremembered it. Now, are you still 100% sure that you couldn't possibly have misremembered it? I'm not saying you did, but I'm saying it's possible and that a cite would clear this up. Just as it did in the example that you fortuitously provided.

I have no idea why we're still arguing about this. Cites are supposed to be the community gold standard around here.
  #66  
Old 02-09-2005, 07:33 AM
ratatoskK ratatoskK is offline
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re: the Natto debate: I was born in 1955, and I well remember that tune in all kinds of contexts, mostly cartoons, when I was young. So it certainly predated 1974!!!
  #67  
Old 02-09-2005, 07:40 AM
ratatoskK ratatoskK is offline
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p.s. -- the opening bars of the song identified by zut do sound very much like the tune we're all talking about. Good find, zut!!!
  #68  
Old 02-09-2005, 08:02 AM
ratatoskK ratatoskK is offline
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p.p.s. -- When I was learning to play piano, I'm pretty sure one of the songs was that Chinese song, and that it was from a collection of easy pieces by Peter Foy. Here are some of his music collections . When I get home I'll look and see if I still have the book (but I probably don't).
  #69  
Old 02-09-2005, 08:05 AM
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All right, I sent out an email to Charles Garrett about this thread. (Imagine my surprise to find that his office is located about a mile from mine. Small world!) Hopefully, this might pique his interest enough to shed some light on the subject.
  #70  
Old 02-09-2005, 08:05 AM
ratatoskK ratatoskK is offline
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p.p.p.s. -- Foy's Foibles has a song Serenade to a Japanese Teabag. That must be the song I'm thinking of. I'll try to find the music for it so I can determine whether it's the song we're all talking about.

Songs in Foy's Foibles
  #71  
Old 02-09-2005, 10:47 AM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ratatoskK
p.s. -- the opening bars of the song identified by zut do sound very much like the tune we're all talking about. Good find, zut!!!
Am I crazy, or isn't "Chinatown, My Chinatown" (1920) almost certainly the answer to the OP. The riff is in that tune -- it's on a piano, so it sounds different, but it's in there.
  #72  
Old 02-09-2005, 11:20 AM
zut zut is online now
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Well, it could be the answer. I think it's clearly related, and related very closely. But is "Chinatown, My Chinatown" the direct ancestor of the "Kung Fu Fighting" riff, or are they both borrowing from something else entirely? And even if it is the direct ancestor, is "Chinatown, My Chinatown" the original place where the riff is used, or is the origin further back yet? And, in the other direction: exactly when and where did the "Chinatown, My Chinatown" riff morph into the "Kung Fu Fighting" riff?

Unfortunately, I suspect that this might be someone's as-yet-unwritten doctoral dissertation.
  #73  
Old 02-09-2005, 01:06 PM
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Carl Stalling, who wrote much of the music for the Warner Bros. cartoons starting in the 40's, actually wrote a short piece called 'Variation on Chinatown My Chinatown'. The whole piece is only 9 seconds long, just long enough to serve as incidental music for 'getting hit on the head' or 'being knocked all the way to China". Unfortunately, it does not contain the KFF/TJ riff; indeed, it sounds less like this riff than the original Chinatown My Chinatown. You can listen to the entire piece at Amazon.com under The Carl Stalling Project Vol 2:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...39960?v=glance

I have to side with NattoGuy on this. While this piece does not prove that Looney Tunes cartoons did NOT use the KFF/TJ riff, it is suggestive that a childhood memory of an 'oriental' riff in a cartoon is not enough to demonstrate the use of the specific KFF/TJ riff before 1974.
  #74  
Old 02-09-2005, 01:25 PM
blowero blowero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NattoGuy
OK, that's a fantastic example. Pure genius. Let's run with that. Let's look at the corrected Snopes article now and gain both enlightenment and perspective:

And the article goes on to say that in addition to misremembering the race of the couple involved, other variations of the story place the occurrence in radio stations in Australia and Chicago as well.

In other words... the tape proved that they misremembered it. Now, are you still 100% sure that you couldn't possibly have misremembered it? I'm not saying you did, but I'm saying it's possible and that a cite would clear this up. Just as it did in the example that you fortuitously provided.

I have no idea why we're still arguing about this. Cites are supposed to be the community gold standard around here.
You missed the point. Had you read the original Snopes article, before the tape turned up, there would have been a strong implication that the event never happened. Not just that the details were changed, but that it NEVER HAPPENED. I only used that to demonstrate the GENERAL PRINCIPLE that, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Way to take it out of context, though.
  #75  
Old 02-09-2005, 01:42 PM
blowero blowero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bordelond
Am I crazy, or isn't "Chinatown, My Chinatown" (1920) almost certainly the answer to the OP. The riff is in that tune -- it's on a piano, so it sounds different, but it's in there.
Really? I don't hear it. It starts with what is close to an inversion of the tune, but it's definitely not the tune. Are you saying it's somewhere in the middle of the song?

The riff that many of us remember is NOT the one at the beginning of Chinatown, My Chinatown, nor is it the one in Kung Fu Fighting. The one we're talking about is at a slower tempo than Kung Fu Fighting, and it generally ends with a gong sound. Kung Fu Fighting is quoting that riff, in the same way that The Jetsons theme song quotes "Chopsticks". With all due respect to those advancing the theory, I really don't think this is a collective manufactured memory.

Let me ask you this: Did the tune "Chopsticks" originate in The Jetsons theme song? I think most of us would say no, and it wouldn't be necessary to prove it, because people who were alive before The Jetsons premiered remember playing Chopsticks on the piano.

And NattoGuy, you're confusing this with Great Debates. That's where you do the whole demand for cites and all that garbage. We're not having a formal debate here - we're just trying to answer a question.
  #76  
Old 02-09-2005, 02:53 PM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ratatoskK
p.s. -- the opening bars of the song identified by zut do sound very much like the tune we're all talking about. Good find, zut!!!
Good find, but no cigar. It's not that close: The "Chinatown" song has a riff identical to my written music fragment in rhythm, harmony (pentatonic scale, using 4ths) but not melody. The Parlor Songs tune goes UP after the first 4 repeated notes, my sample goes DOWN.

And to nitpick, the harmony on the "Chinatown" midi file uses 3 tones in parallel motion; each represents a complete triad chord. This is a little different from how I usually hear it, as two tones parallel fourths apart, which is an interval, not a chord.

I emailed both proprietors of the Parlor Songs site asking the OP. I'll let you know if they reply.
  #77  
Old 02-09-2005, 03:07 PM
squeegee squeegee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blowero
The riff that many of us remember is NOT the one at the beginning of Chinatown, My Chinatown, nor is it the one in Kung Fu Fighting. The one we're talking about is at a slower tempo than Kung Fu Fighting, and it generally ends with a gong sound. Kung Fu Fighting is quoting that riff, in the same way that The Jetsons theme song quotes "Chopsticks".
The tune I recall started with the KFF riff, then continued for a few more notes. The KFF riff quotes first half of the melody.

G G G G F F D D F <--- kff
G G G F F G F D D

I actually found a Scooby Doo episode (my son loved Scooby Doo last year, we have stacks of tapes) that references the second half of that melody. The episode is "Mystery Mask Mixup". The melody is quoted about 1/3 of the way through the episode: Fred tells the Gang that they have to check out some scary Chinese-looking castle, Scooby and Shaggy go "gulp!", and we fade to black with the second-half of the "chinese theme" playing. The episode was from 1970.

If I had infinite time, I bet I could find an instance in a Warner Brothers or, more likely, Tex Avery short from the 50's.
  #78  
Old 02-09-2005, 03:25 PM
blowero blowero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squeegee
The tune I recall started with the KFF riff, then continued for a few more notes. The KFF riff quotes first half of the melody.
Guess I wasn't clear. KFF is the same melody, I just don't think it originated there. The "real" one ends with a gong sound.
Quote:
If I had infinite time, I bet I could find an instance in a Warner Brothers or, more likely, Tex Avery short from the 50's.
I'm also thinking cheesy war movies from the 50s. I recall that tune being pretty ubiquitous whenever an Asian person showed up in a movie. Problem is, it's going to be exceedingly difficult to find an example on the web. It's not like there's a plethora of web sites sporting sound-file downloads of the audio to an entire feature-length film. Even assuming any of us has the infinite patience to download something like that and wade through the entire thing. Incidental music for movies and t.v. shows doesn't generally get published. It's not like you can go to the music store and buy, "That music they play when Bugs Bunny kisses Elmer Fudd on the lips", or whatever.
  #79  
Old 02-09-2005, 03:34 PM
squeegee squeegee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blowero
Guess I wasn't clear. KFF is the same melody, I just don't think it originated there. The "real" one ends with a gong sound.
I knew what you meant. I was just trying to clarify "the riff that many of us remember".

Quote:
Problem is, it's going to be exceedingly difficult to find an example on the web.
Yep. We need Google for music. Moogle!
  #80  
Old 02-09-2005, 04:00 PM
zut zut is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat
Good find, but no cigar. It's not that close: The "Chinatown" song has a riff identical to my written music fragment in rhythm, harmony (pentatonic scale, using 4ths) but not melody.
Well, disagree a bit. Granted, it's certainly not identical, but in the grand scheme of musical things, it seems very close, to me. I guess it depends on how you interpret the OP's question. He asked where that riff "comes from." Does that mean a) where was that exact riff first used, or b) how was that riff developed over time? Clearly, if you're answering (a), then "Chinatown" isn't very useful; but, if you're answering (b), then I'd think that it's very relevant. (Of course, the two questions might have the same answer, although I'd guess that they don't.)
  #81  
Old 02-09-2005, 04:57 PM
ratatoskK ratatoskK is offline
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If anyone has the patience to listen to these, here are some actual Chinese, Korean and Thai songs (midi) -- just in case the theme we're looking for is an authentic song.
Chinese midi music
  #82  
Old 02-09-2005, 05:21 PM
squeegee squeegee is offline
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Here's a sound file that someone is vending that sounds very close to the theme I think everyone is thinking of. It's not the exactly same and is shorter than what Bolero and I are thinking of as the "Cliche" version of the theme.
  #83  
Old 02-09-2005, 05:29 PM
blowero blowero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squeegee
Here's a sound file that someone is vending that sounds very close to the theme I think everyone is thinking of. It's not the exactly same and is shorter than what Bolero and I are thinking of as the "Cliche" version of the theme.
That's almost exactly it, except the third pitch goes up instead of down. The way Musicat wrote it out is exactly the way I've always remembered it.
  #84  
Old 02-09-2005, 05:31 PM
ratatoskK ratatoskK is offline
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[hijack] I just found the greatest collection of Looney Tunes music and sounds effects here . In the righthand vertical pane, scroll down to the botton and choose Music or Sound Effects. [/hijack] Sorry, I won't hijack again, but I couldn't resist.
  #85  
Old 02-09-2005, 05:48 PM
squeegee squeegee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blowero
That's almost exactly it, except the third pitch goes up instead of down. The way Musicat wrote it out is exactly the way I've always remembered it.
Yep, me too, but with the addition of the notes I wrote in my post earlier post. I just thought the xylophone and gong were dead on.
  #86  
Old 02-09-2005, 07:24 PM
HMS Irruncible HMS Irruncible is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blowero
You missed the point. Had you read the original Snopes article, before the tape turned up, there would have been a strong implication that the event never happened. Not just that the details were changed, but that it NEVER HAPPENED. I only used that to demonstrate the GENERAL PRINCIPLE that, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Way to take it out of context, though.
Look, you're flogging a red herring here. I understand "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Isn't that the logic behind the statement "it is impossible to prove a negative," which I admitted in this thread long before before you chose to start harping on this piece of philosphical sophistry?

Now here's something else I'll concede (again). In this thread I haven't been pushing just one theory of what happened here. I've been exploring several. I didn't distinguish or defend any of them very well because I didn't expect such a strident reaction to them. So I'll try to wrap up the 3 possible outcomes that I've been considering:

1) This precise tune appeared as a motif in a named musical work fairly early in the 20th century. A link to an audio file or audio score would conclusively demonstrate this. So far, we haven't arrived at this. We've arrived at some very, very close tunes, but someone specified that it has to be this specific one. Therefore, no luck so far.

2) This precise tune first appeared as incidental music in popular culture sometime in the 20th century. For what it's worth, I think I remember it existing before "Kung Fu Fighting," but I also remember other tunes, so I don't trust my memories. If this is the case, there's a strong chance we won't be able to identify an "origin" because "there is no database of Scooby Doo cartoon incidental music." That, and the fact that there are so many similar tunes. That doesn't mean the tune never existed, it just means nobody will be able to prove that it did. So far, this is resoundingly true, if we agree that memories are faulty and can't be considered "proof."

3) This precise tune never existed before popularized in "Kung Fu Fighting", and those who claim it does are in fact only remembering one of the many, many almost identical Orientalist melodies in use for 70 years prior to then. Yes, it's radical and contrarian and possibly incorrect. Because it's a negative assertion, it can't be proven (absence of evidence != evidence of absence. ad nauseaum). And it can be easily be disproven by surfacing of proof. However, due to problems mentioned in #2 above, disproving this is also not likely.

See? We're not in total disagreement. You'd fall under the rubric of #2 above, which you're fiercely advocating. On the other hand, you seem pledged to fight #3 to the death. That's well and good, but if you disprove #3, you still haven't proven #2.

I think they're all equally possible. I wish #1 would pan out because I prefer questions to have answers. That's why I keep trying to say... until we get a cite, we're just batting around childhood memories. Evidence would tie this up neatly. Without it, all outcomes are equally possible.

Lastly, I don't think application of logic is solely Great Debates territory. This is only a "Great Debate" if we're arguing the merits of a non-factual question and thus trying to decide whose logic is better. Logic acts to narrow down facts, and we're trying to find a fact here. Aren't we?
  #87  
Old 02-09-2005, 07:54 PM
ratatoskK ratatoskK is offline
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So much for the spirit of inquiry. Someone has decided that we will never find the answer and should stop trying. Furthermore, he has decided that anyone who remembers anything from before he was born has a faulty memory.
  #88  
Old 02-09-2005, 08:05 PM
squeegee squeegee is offline
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Nattoguy -

I don't think anybody -- least of all me -- is advocating that Scooby-Doo (or Tom and Jerry or whatever) is the origin of this melody. I think the point of view that I and I'd guess blowero is pushing is something in-between your #2 and #3 choices -- that the stereotypical "chinese music" did indeed originate in popular culture sometime in the last 60 years or so, as a distillation of asian-sounding riffs, but that KFF is not that source.

If we find an earlier instance than KFF, then I agree: we've disproven #3, but not proven the "real" origin of the material. What we have done is, by progressively finding earlier and earlier instances, moved closer to that origin. At some point, you find the earliest instance that's findable. I sincerely doubt that KFF is that instance.

I recall that in one column, Cecil blessed be his name dismissed someone's question about who invented a common object with the pronouncement, "You may as well ask who invented the hat", meaning that some things are so basic they seemingly invent themselves. So it may be with this melody.

However, the melody seems both a) pervasive as an "oriental" thematic, and b) venerable, meaning some of us old enough to remember watching lots of already-old material remember the melody occurring, and it was seemingly hackneyed even then. This would lead me to believe that that great hacknifier, maker of stereotypes, is responsible: television. Either a distillation of old movies & comedies played from the Jackie Gleason era onwards, plus cartoons repeated for 40 years, put this tune in everyone's mind

Lastly, I'd argue that the melody's inclusion in KFF, a novelty song reportedly written & recorded in a few hours (I had a cite for this, but Google is failing me; I can dig if you like) makes it, to my mind, more likely that KFF is not the origin. Opening a novelty song with an utterly-hackneyed, every's-heard-it "chinese theme" would be exactly what the writer would want: a song from a cartoon! What could be more perfect for a the opening to a pop-novelty song?
  #89  
Old 02-09-2005, 08:37 PM
HMS Irruncible HMS Irruncible is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squeegee
Lastly, I'd argue that the melody's inclusion in KFF, a novelty song reportedly written & recorded in a few hours (I had a cite for this, but Google is failing me; I can dig if you like) makes it, to my mind, more likely that KFF is not the origin. Opening a novelty song with an utterly-hackneyed, every's-heard-it "chinese theme" would be exactly what the writer would want: a song from a cartoon! What could be more perfect for a the opening to a pop-novelty song?
First, let me express my appreciation for your continuing engagement of this discussion in a civil tone, and for being able to read my bad writing.

Second... let me paint this scenario on KFF, and see if I can change your mind.
A few disco/funk musicians are sitting in a motel room after weeks on the road, in a haze of marijuana smoke. After hours of watching kung fu reruns and cartoons, they think "Hey, we should write a song about kung fu. We'll use that little kung fu ditty that everybody uses... how did it go again? da da da da dum dum... no, that's not exactly it... da dum da da um... no, da da dum da da dum... dang, can't remember it. Let's just use "da da da da dum dum da dum dum dum." That's close enough, who's gonna care anyway...

Thus, a new iteration emerges. We can't exactly credit Douglas for "inventing" the tune as it is derivative of 3 generations of derivatives. But since we are talking about "this exact precise tune", perhaps it actually did come into being at this point.

And yes, this is getting absurd, but in my opinion it's only because someone insisted that the OP's question could only be satisfied by this precise rhythm and sequence of notes. Given the amount of samizdat tunes performing in an identical capacity in TV, music, and movies, I think that is a ludicrous stricture to place on this topic. That's what leads to ludicrous conclusions like my idea that Carl Douglas invented it; I wouldn't have begun to suggest something like that unless someone had made such a specification.
  #90  
Old 02-09-2005, 09:18 PM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is offline
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This won't answer the question, but I'll just post an earlier thread, which includes a link to an even earlier thread on the subject.
  #91  
Old 02-09-2005, 09:19 PM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is offline
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As soon as I remember to paste the link:
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=141472
  #92  
Old 02-09-2005, 09:30 PM
squeegee squeegee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NattoGuy
First, let me express my appreciation for your continuing engagement of this discussion in a civil tone, and for being able to read my bad writing.
Thanks

Quote:
Second... let me paint this scenario on KFF, and see if I can change your mind.
A few disco/funk musicians are sitting in a motel room after weeks on the road, in a haze of marijuana smoke. After hours of watching kung fu reruns and cartoons, they think "Hey, we should write a song about kung fu. We'll use that little kung fu ditty that everybody uses... how did it go again? da da da da dum dum... no, that's not exactly it... da dum da da um... no, da da dum da da dum... dang, can't remember it. Let's just use "da da da da dum dum da dum dum dum." That's close enough, who's gonna care anyway...
According to sources, the song was written and recorded in ten minutes. Which may or may not support your theory. However, Carl was working with 'legendary' producer Biddu, a big definer of the Disco sound, and Gerry Shury, who arranged KFF, and was also a big talent at the time. They may have been stoned, for all I know, but they weren't amatuers. Biddu and Shury would certainly have been aware (along with Carl) of pop-culture themes and of this "oriental" melody. It's possible your scenario works, but I'm not ready to buy it.

Quote:
And yes, this is getting absurd, but in my opinion it's only because someone insisted that the OP's question could only be satisfied by this precise rhythm and sequence of notes.
Well, maybe you misunderstand me: I'm one of those people. I really do very clearly recall encountering this specific melody in material that was current prior to 1974. I'd bet I could Tivo up a few hours of The Tex Avery Show, Tom and Jerry, etc, and find several instances of that specific melody, and hopefully identify the years of the occurance. If I find some time, I may actually do this, since my curiousity is high, but it may have to wait until the weekend after this one when I have some time.
  #93  
Old 02-09-2005, 09:49 PM
HMS Irruncible HMS Irruncible is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squeegee
According to sources, the song was written and recorded in ten minutes. Which may or may not support your theory. However, Carl was working with 'legendary' producer Biddu, a big definer of the Disco sound, and Gerry Shury, who arranged KFF, and was also a big talent at the time. They may have been stoned, for all I know, but they weren't amatuers.
Here's a cite that says Douglas had brought the KFF lyrics to the studio, having written them previously. It then suggests that Biddu wrote the melody in the studio, and the actual recording took place in the 10 minutes remaining after the melody was written.

I'm not really implying that they were amateurs. I'm just suggesting the possibility that while trying to remember a suitable Oriental-sounding tune that fit what they were trying to do, in the heat of the moment they might have inadvertently created a new one. It could have been by misremembering or by forcing the riff to fit the meter.
  #94  
Old 02-10-2005, 02:29 AM
blowero blowero is offline
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Apropos of nothing, here's another example, (although this one is missing the parallel 4ths):

http://www.wickedwavs.com/?page=search

Search for "oriental", then listen to Paul Sumpter's "Music Theme - Oriental". The tune appears in the middle of the clip.
  #95  
Old 02-10-2005, 03:06 AM
HMS Irruncible HMS Irruncible is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blowero
Search for "oriental", then listen to Paul Sumpter's "Music Theme - Oriental". The tune appears in the middle of the clip.
It certainly does. By way of dating the piece, the blurb says:

Quote:
Paul Sumpter has been composing for over eight years encompassing everything from jazz to electronica, film music to dance music, rock to baroque.
So that could be from as early as 1997 if we're to assume the article is current.
  #96  
Old 02-10-2005, 03:39 AM
blowero blowero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NattoGuy
It certainly does. By way of dating the piece, the blurb says:



So that could be from as early as 1997 if we're to assume the article is current.
Why do you insist on being a prick?
  #97  
Old 02-10-2005, 04:45 AM
HMS Irruncible HMS Irruncible is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blowero
Why do you insist on being a prick?
Listen blowero, you're the one who has been making with the truckloads of rolleyes smileys, condescending philosophical sophistry, and general snarkishness. Not I. Now you're adding vulgar name-calling, and for what reason? Because I added dating information to your clip, in language so neutral and non-confrontational as to be bland? We are still talking about finding an earlier occurrence of this clip, aren't we?

I swear I'm not trying to take a wrecking ball to your childhood memories and I'm sorry if it looks that way to you. I don't understand the hostility, why can't you relax?
  #98  
Old 02-10-2005, 05:46 AM
GuanoLad GuanoLad is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squeegee
I'd bet I could Tivo up a few hours of The Tex Avery Show, Tom and Jerry, etc, and find several instances of that specific melody, and hopefully identify the years of the occurance.
You should look up Bob Clampett too - Beany and Cecil was filled to overflowing with cliches like this.
  #99  
Old 02-10-2005, 06:50 AM
samclem samclem is online now
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[Moderator mode]

Everyone chill here. Especially you, blowero. You don't call names in GQ.

Since there is still info being provided from more than a few people, I'll let this one stay open for now. But not if it turns further into a debate.

[/Moderator]
  #100  
Old 02-10-2005, 07:16 AM
zut zut is online now
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Yeah; I second sam. I find this topic to be really intriguing, and I'd be pissed if it got closed because it wandered into non-GQ territory. I'm reasonably sure that everyone agrees that there are multiple possible origins and explanations, and we don't have enough evidence to say one or the other is positively correct. Or not.
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