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  #101  
Old 02-10-2005, 06:35 AM
zut zut is offline
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OK, that being said...

I sent the following email to Charles Garrett, the author of "Chinatown, Whose Chinatown? Defining America's Borders with Musical Orientalism":
Quote:
Dr. Garrett,

I'm a member of a general-knowledge Internet message board where we're currently discussing the origin of that stereotypical riff, used in movies and popular songs, that signifies "Asian" -- the one heard in "Turning Japanese" by the Vapors or "Kung Fu Fighting" by Carl Douglas. If you're interested, the discussion is here:
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...6&page=1&pp=50

The problem is, none of us have any background in musical history, or any formal training, so we're pretty much reduced to throwing around anecdotal statements, and, unfortunately, we're not getting very far. However, I *did* find that the opening notes of "Chinatown, My Chinatown" are *similar* to the riff in question, which led me to your paper, "Chinatown, Whose Chinatown? Defining America's Borders with Musical Orientalism." In that paper, you mention the "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" as found in "Chinatown, My Chinatown."

So, by chance, can you shed some light on the origins of this particular riff? *Is* there a particular known origin, or did the riff grow organically from the total body of Orientalist music? Did it grow out of the music found in "Chinatown, My Chinatown"? When did this riff first show up?

Thanks for any information you might have.
Dr. Garrett was kind enough to take my out-of-the-blue question seriously, and his response was:
Quote:
I'm intrigued by your question, but unfortunately I can't provide you a conclusive answer. In part, that is why the sentence you noted in my article does not spell out things further. I can say that the trope became popular over the years, but I am not sure exactly where or when it got started. I do know that that lick, and similar ones, show up in orientalist novelty songs of the 1940s, as well as in film scores and commercials. And I wouldn't be surprised to discover it in much earlier recordings of songs from the 1900s and 1910s and in ethnic songs written for the vaudeville stage. I've never looked, but there are hundreds of examples. It may even go back further than that to orientalist operas and so forth. I haven't looked for that musical passage in Madame Butterfly or The Mikado, but those sorts of works do use similar pentatonic techniques, too.

After receiving your e-mail, I exchanged some e-mail of my own with one of the experts in the field of musical orientalism. His feeling was that this is a very simplistic lick that anyone can play on the black keys of the piano (if one adds the parallel fourths above or below). In other words, it's a very simple, childlike maneuver that instantly can mimic pentatonic (aka "Asian") music. So, it may just have developed that way - as composers looked for the first recognizable and arguably comic way to imitate pentatonicism.

I hope that helps. If you turn up any other theories, I'd be happy to hear about them. Will do the same for you if I come across anything.
The second paragraph seems like a plausible explanation *how* the riff was established, although not exactly *where* or *when*. And, although he doesn't give a specific example of the "orientalist novelty songs of the 1940s," I'm inclined to believe that he'd be a reasonably reliable source for their existance.
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  #102  
Old 02-10-2005, 12:31 PM
blowero blowero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NattoGuy
We are still talking about finding an earlier occurrence of this clip, aren't we?
I went out of my way to say, "apropos of nothing", to make it clear that I was just providing the link for the sake of interest, and not for the purpose of trying to date anything. It was quite obviously a new composition. But you just HAD to get your digs in.

In deference to the moderator, I won't be responding to you anymore. I hope someone comes up with more information, because I still think this is an interesting subject.
  #103  
Old 02-10-2005, 08:10 PM
Crandolph Crandolph is offline
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IIRC, The Move recorded a version of "Chinatown..." in about '70 or '71 for one of their last LPs, and that may have been fairly fresh in the mind of the KFF composer.

I could play you about 20 songs that riff off of this, um... riff out of my 60s rock'n'roll collection. There are a number of these songs (which are considered fairly well racist these days as opposed to simply funny or cute) on the following reprint compilations which were put together in the last decade or so:

Strummin' Mental

In monomaniacal fashion in these compilations (I believe they're up to Volume 3):

Chop Suey Rock

...and in the equal opportunity-offending:

Jungle Exotica series.

There are a bazillion examples out there before KFF, and if you're in the neighborhood you can stop by and I'll play some for ya.

I suspect that the riff was in the popular imagination even before the 1920s for the same logical reason we would suspect people knew it before KFF: it's a musical shorthand which trips associations to the Exotic Orient in the mind. We need to be cued for that sort of thing earlier in life.

I suspect there are examples of racist sheet music with riffs like this going back to about as early as Chinese immigration in the 19th century. The earliest example I could find quickly is the charmingly-titled Chong He Come from Hong Kong from 1919. Unfortunately the musical notation itself isn't available on that page.

I imagine that "Orientalist" collectors, ethnic archives and sheet music collectors could bring this sort of thing back a lot earlier than that, and I suspect you could trace the origins of the tune we know from Scooby Doo or KFF decades before my earliest cite here.
  #104  
Old 02-10-2005, 08:19 PM
Crandolph Crandolph is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zut
And, although he doesn't give a specific example of the "orientalist novelty songs of the 1940s," I'm inclined to believe that he'd be a reasonably reliable source for their existance.
There were dozens (maybe hundreds?) of these, mostly anti-Japanese. "Slap That Jap" and that sort of thing. I think Mel Blanc recorded a couple.

I just thought of two songs that use the variations on the riff in the '50s: "Ling Ting Tong" by Gene Ross and "Rockin' China Doll" by the more familiar Buddy Knox (who you probably know from "Party Doll.")

I'd be very interested in tracing this into the 19th century if anyone has a good archival source.
  #105  
Old 02-11-2005, 09:09 AM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crandolph
IIRC, The Move recorded a version of "Chinatown..." in about '70 or '71 for one of their last LPs, and that may have been fairly fresh in the mind of the KFF composer.
"Chinatown" appeared as track #3 on The Move's 1972 album Split Ends. The more familiar "Do Ya" was track #1.

I've been trying to find a sound sample of "Chinatown" at one of the usual sources (allmusic, cdnow), but so far -- no luck.
  #106  
Old 02-12-2005, 05:10 PM
Crandolph Crandolph is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bordelond
"Chinatown" appeared as track #3 on The Move's 1972 album Split Ends. The more familiar "Do Ya" was track #1.
Aha. There was also an American release of the best of their last two albums combined on one LP which also has the track. That one's a very cheap pressing with inferior sound, but easier to find in my experience in the used bins.
  #107  
Old 02-13-2005, 06:37 PM
HMS Irruncible HMS Irruncible is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crandolph
I could play you about 20 songs that riff off of this, um... riff out of my 60s rock'n'roll collection.
Could you listen to these songs, determine which ones have this specific riff, and upload an audio clip? Failing that, list as much info as possible so we can go find it ourselves? (title, artist, album, year would be great).

Remember, it's been stipulated that we're trying to date the earliest known occurrence of the exact riff used in "Kung Fu Fighting" and "Turning Japanese." Similar isn't good enough, so David Bowie's "China Girl" (for example) would not satisfy the requirement.

A couple of days ago I thought I'd hit gold with Ella Fitzgerald's "Sing Song Swing" from (I think) 1939, but alas, it was only a very close variation. I myself had remembered it incorrectly.
  #108  
Old 02-13-2005, 11:26 PM
Crandolph Crandolph is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NattoGuy
Could you listen to these songs, determine which ones have this specific riff, and upload an audio clip? Failing that, list as much info as possible so we can go find it ourselves? (title, artist, album, year would be great).

Remember, it's been stipulated that we're trying to date the earliest known occurrence of the exact riff used in "Kung Fu Fighting" and "Turning Japanese." Similar isn't good enough, so David Bowie's "China Girl" (for example) would not satisfy the requirement.
That's going to be difficult in the case of those I have on vinyl, as my attempts to digitize my vinyl have resulted in a lot of hiss and very little signal (I may well be posting a Q in GQ on that at some point.) Some songs I already have digitized & I'll give them a listen, determine which ones cut it and post the clips in the next couple of days. I'll stick the URLs here when I do.

Many of the songs I'm aware of were small pressings on small labels and in many cases the compilers of the reprint compilations themselves don't know specific dates, but you can guesstimate pretty well by style and recording quality (the main rash of them seems to have been around '59-'63.)

I should also point out that I don't own any copies of the Chop Suey Rock series, which I should think would be the largest concentrated, er... treasure trove (?) of this material in the world.
  #109  
Old 02-14-2005, 12:09 AM
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As the OP of the thread that came just before this one (that died, alas), I'd like to thank everyone here for exerting so much effort in finding the origin of this riff.
  #110  
Old 02-14-2005, 03:56 AM
nivlac nivlac is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squeegee
OK, here's an instance of the "Chinese Riff" that would predate KFF, if we could track it down:

There's a Warner Brother's Tweetie & Sylvester cartoon that I'm pretty sure contains the melody, and would have been made in the 50's or 60's. I don't recall the plot, but the ending had Sylvester hit by something so large, or falling so far, that he went splat through the planet and ends up in China. You see Sylvester plop out of the earth with the perspective inverted - the sky below. The camera turns over and we see Sylvester gawking at pagodas and other chinese brik-a-brak. Queue "Chinese Riff", exactly the same as KFF, and just as cliched in this instance. A Chinese Tweetie appears, and says in jibberish fake Chinese, with subtitles, "I thought I saw a puddy tat."

Ring a bell, anyone?
That was the ending in the Warner Bros cartoon "Tweety and the Beanstalk", made in 1957. Yeah, some oriental-sounding music is played when Sylvester comes crashing into China (after being landed on by the Giant), but it's not quite the Chinese riff that's being discussed here, but it's close. BTW, this cartoon may not get a lot of air time due to the PC police, a la Speedy Gonzales.
  #111  
Old 02-14-2005, 07:16 AM
HMS Irruncible HMS Irruncible is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe K
As the OP of the thread that came just before this one (that died, alas), I'd like to thank everyone here for exerting so much effort in finding the origin of this riff.
Well, it just drives me nuts that nobody including me can put hands on it or answer the question. You'd think it would be a no-brainer to find this one since it's so widespread. Or at least that's what I thought. But then when I go back to recordings where I thought it existed, it turns out my memory has played tricks on me and it's off by a few notes.

At this point I don't care so much about finding the precise origin as finding a copy, any copy, older than 1974 (thus proving that we haven't all gone senile yet). I'm officially out of ideas, so I hope Crandolph can turn up something.
  #112  
Old 02-14-2005, 02:30 PM
Crandolph Crandolph is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NattoGuy
At this point I don't care so much about finding the precise origin as finding a copy, any copy, older than 1974 (thus proving that we haven't all gone senile yet). I'm officially out of ideas, so I hope Crandolph can turn up something.
OK, many hours later on a slow Monday, having listened to far more wanna-sound-Chinese trashy rock'n'roll than can possibly be healthy, I come to a surprising conclusion...

"KFF" may be the origin of that exact riff. I've listened to about 10 songs I thought might be the riff, but thus far all of them have been playing little pentatonic scale games around the "KFF" riff without hitting it exactly.

I've also discovered that the Gene Ross white late 50s rocker version of "Ling Ting Tong" is actually a cover of the same song by The Five Keys, a black doo-wop group from earlier in the decade.

The closest I've heard thus far are a few surf-type instrumentals which I probably can't didgitize samples of anytime soon. But those are close-no-cigar. I have to say I'm beginning to believe that "KFF" may have been the first song with that exact riff. I say "may" because of the absence-of-evidence issue. I have about 10 more songs in my stacks of vinyl to check, but if I spend much more of Valentine's Day doing this I'm likely in trouble ... I'll likely post a vinyl update tomorrow. Also really regretting not buying copies of Chop Suey Rock when I've seen them; this is our best bet.

Here is a sample of the type of thing I've been referring to (and this one isn't all that close), "Chinese Junk" by Prentice Moreland on the Del-Fi label from 1960. One song that many of you could possibly have at home that comes somewhat close is The Hollies' "Oriental Sadness" from their 1966 album Would You Believe?.
  #113  
Old 02-16-2005, 05:06 PM
Crandolph Crandolph is offline
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Chinese stereotype riff needle in haystack search update

Hello again -

I'm down to about 5 songs I have to track down in my largish music collection, and thus far no exact KFF/Vapors riff.

Thus far the closest I've come is the guitar solo on "Rockin' China Doll" by Buddy Knox (who seems to have been a fan of the exotic girl sub-genre and also recorded a hula girl track along the same lines), which was recorded c. '58. Again, though, close but not "it."

If someone would just break down and buy the Chop Suey Rock comps online (I also recall seeing them in the Amoeba Music stores in the Bay Area) this would be the most fertile hunting ground. Some poor twisted soul has already compiled the "me Chinese. me lock'n'loll" tracks for us, and I imagine is living out the rest of his days weaving baskets as a ward of the state.

Another area to look might be the cartoon or radio sound effects CDs and LPs. I don't have may of these, but I suspect that the riff may have been used as incidental music if not as the meatus of a whole commercially-released song. Anyone have some of that material?
  #114  
Old 02-17-2005, 10:43 AM
Crandolph Crandolph is offline
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Update - we have a winnner!

Not the original song necessarily, but the same riff as KFF, a pre-'74 one at that.

The first Jungle Exotica CD has a track by The Gaylords called "Ah So!" in which a piano is rocked Jerry Lee Lewis style using "the" riff. As if that isn't enough, the lead singer mimics tonal Chinese the whole way through. You can pretty well picture him pulling back the corners of his eyes and wearing joke shop buck teeth while this was recorded.

The Amazon page I link to has this being a release on the Crypt '60s rerelease label, but my copy came out on the similar Strip label out of Germany (these being the same people who put out the Las Vegas Grind instrumentals series.)

All of the songs in the series cam out c. 1959-1965, and the band was likely American. The only internet reference I can find is this radio playlist from a 60s-oriented show; this person's copy of JE is also on Strip. This would be a very rare track which didn't chart, there are no liner notes on the CD & therefore I can't tell you what exact year this came out.

Bands like The Gaylords (if in fact they were a real band and not a studio group) were a dime a dozen at the time, and I imagine they were copying the riff from incidental music to try and string together a novelty hit. But at least you have a pre-'74 incidence.
  #115  
Old 02-17-2005, 12:36 PM
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Ha! Interesting. Thanks for doing all that work. I tend to think (and this is probably what you're implying) that the real origins of this riff are probably pretty obscure.
  #116  
Old 02-17-2005, 12:42 PM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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Crandolph -- A+ on the research! Dedication in spades.
  #117  
Old 02-17-2005, 12:54 PM
Crandolph Crandolph is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bordelond
Crandolph -- A+ on the research! Dedication in spades.
Not a problem, I enjoyed it. Which is the part that makes one a geek I suppose, the enjoyment.

If I ever get a copy of Chop Suey Rock and encounter the riff again with more info, I'll post it to Cafe Society. Incidentally there is a "Chop Suey Rock"-titled song I've encountered in this mess as well, but it wasn't what we were looking for.

As far as the OP is concerned: I'm guessing somewhere out there is an incidental music library or sheet music collection with some answers. It may also be that someone at some point copyrighted the song (if only we knew a title!) and there's a legal approach to answering the OP as well.
  #118  
Old 02-17-2005, 01:41 PM
blowero blowero is offline
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Awesome! Good work, Crandolph. I don't suppose there's any way you could sample it for us in a sound file, is there? I'd love to hear that.
  #119  
Old 02-17-2005, 01:54 PM
blowero blowero is offline
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I don't know if you guys came across this article yet, but it has several clips from movies that feature Asian stereotypes. It's possible that the riff occurs as incidental music in some of these old films. If anyone has broadband and feels like watching them, here's the site:

http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/Amydoc.html

I already watched the Breakfast at Tiffany's clip, which didn't have background music in the scene at all. It took me several hours to download it, though. The files are just too large for my dialup connection.
  #120  
Old 02-17-2005, 03:29 PM
zut zut is offline
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I just downloaded the other three clips, and weren't nothing there in the way of KFF riffs. Good idea, though.
  #121  
Old 02-17-2005, 10:18 PM
Crandolph Crandolph is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blowero
Awesome! Good work, Crandolph. I don't suppose there's any way you could sample it for us in a sound file, is there? I'd love to hear that.
What I have is the entire song as one file. What I don't have right now is an mp3 editor (at the moment I only have software that allows me to copy & burn entire files), which would allow me to chop out a representative portion & post it somewhere like YouSendIt. I know that posting whole songs is kinda frowned upon around here...

If someone knows of a shareware or freeware or even fairly cheap downloadable sound editor to recommend to me, do so & I'll be happy to oblige. Given my hobby I should've had this software some time ago anyway.

BTW, speaking of copyright violations, pretty much everything on the Strip label and dozens of reissue labels like it depend on everyone involved in the small-time labels and bands who produced the music they reprint from 40-50 or so years ago being long dead, oblivious, senile, embarrassed by youthful indiscretion or otherwise unable to seek royalties. Many of the labels of this sort ask you to write them if you were in the band to get some cash, because the original label itself is decades-gone. They run on the assumption that it's "easier to ask forgiveness than permission."
  #122  
Old 02-17-2005, 10:26 PM
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Woo! Wonderful research!

Here's the audio editor I use: Audacity. Wonderful program.

Thanks a million!
  #123  
Old 02-17-2005, 11:26 PM
Crandolph Crandolph is offline
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Thanks, Joe K, that does seem like a cool program!

Ah So! - The Gaylords (edit)

Keep in mind that this is on a piano, not a... recorder? Flute? Whatever the KFF uses... and not electric guitar like The Vapors.

Would you believe there's another track called "Ah So!" on the same CD?! This one by another household name, everyone's favorite band, The Highlights. Not the same song at all though.
  #124  
Old 02-18-2005, 03:44 AM
blowero blowero is offline
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Very cool! That's the closest yet, but it's still not the exact one. I still think there's one out there to be found that was used somewhere as incidental music in movies or cartoons. Several of us remember it the same way, with a gong sound. It is disturbing that nobody can remember exactly where, but I'm still convinced it exists. I've heard it on the Howard Stern show; they sampled it somewhere and play it occasionally as a joke. But of course that doesn't help figure out the origin at all.
  #125  
Old 02-18-2005, 03:46 AM
blowero blowero is offline
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Oh, and thanks so much for posting the sound file and for all your effort in tracking that down.
  #126  
Old 02-18-2005, 05:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crandolph
When I access that link, then click on the download, I immediately get a page that says, "you have clicked on an invalid or stale link." Does this site expire uploads in less than 6 hours?

If that site isn't practical, and you can't put it on a web page, you can email me any file < 5MB and I will volunteer to post it on a temporary web page if you wish.
  #127  
Old 02-18-2005, 09:50 AM
Crandolph Crandolph is offline
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Musicat: I believe the YouSendIt links are good for a week, and that there may be some bandwith limitation on them... not 100% sure. I'll email you the file...
  #128  
Old 02-18-2005, 07:01 PM
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Crandolph's Gaylords.mp3 file is posted on a web page for downloading.

Sorry I took so long. I was away at an all-day conference, and I don't have a hip-pocket PC with a wireless connection. Maybe next year.

That's an interesting clip. Makes me want to hear the whole album.

As far as the yousendit site, it might be bandwidth. After I was unable to download your file, I could download a link that was posted earlier in this thread, so it isn't an expire date.
  #129  
Old 02-18-2005, 07:24 PM
HMS Irruncible HMS Irruncible is offline
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Ah, so close.... and yet so far.
  #130  
Old 03-02-2005, 02:41 PM
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so is this where the story ends? darn, i was hoping for some closure here. but great work so far, guys!
  #131  
Old 06-12-2006, 02:49 PM
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Some new findings

I got fascinated with this question, and for the past month I've done some research, mostly utilising various online archives of old sheet music and recordings whose copyright claims have expired.

My findings soon became far to voluminous to fit in a single post, so I created a website dedicated to the "Asian riff": chinoiserie.atspace.com

My results so far still leave in the open whether the "exact Kung Fu Fighting riff" had any dominant position before its appearance in Carl Douglas' chart hit of 1974: there is just one single earlier find (from 1935) of that exact figure, with no obvious connection to the Kung Fu Fighting instance.

But what I show very clearly is that there existed far earlier a distinct pattern, which I define on the page and which I name "The Far East Proto-Cliché." It basically includes all melodical snips that have the same rhythm as the "modern KFF variant," and where the four first fast notes are of identical repeated height. Plus a requirement that at least a few of several other typical contextual elements should be present: i.e. certain typical ways of instumenting and harmonizing this pattern. And of course it should appear in a context where it's supposed to signify the Orient.

So it's still a very specific clichéd figure: My definition does not include random examples that simply make use of some of the many other existing stereotypical ways of depicting the Far East in music (pentatonicism, parallel fourths, etc.)

I reference 70 or more instances of this proto-cliché, most from before 1930.

The earliest usages that I've found where the Far East Proto-Cliché is used in exactly the "right" contextual way are from the year 1900 and on, occurring in some dozen of Tin Pan Alley-style songs.

But there exist interesting forerunners in the later part of the 19th century, which I also reference on the page. And if you are willing to be somewhat benevolent when judging the evidence then there are some peculiar occurrences going back as far as 1847.

I give a notated music example for each instance of the riff. And thanks to the expiration of copyright for the earlier examples I have been able to link directly to both sheet music and mp3 or real audio digitalizations of old phonograph records. Needless to say this makes the site a lot more interesting. I've also prepared some simple midi files for some of the examples. I'm particularly proud of the chapter about the period between 1915 and 1929.

So feel free to have a look if you always have had a secret dream about exploring the forgotten world of Asian-bashing songs from the 1910's and 20's.
  #132  
Old 06-12-2006, 08:11 PM
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Nice work, ligeti--this particular thread is one of my favorite threads on the Dope, and it's nice to see someone follow through with some additional research.
  #133  
Old 06-12-2006, 08:27 PM
samclem samclem is online now
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ligeti. When your guest membership runs out, I'll pay for your membership. Just email me a day or so ahead.

I'll also put in a word for you with Dex about writing a report on some subject of your choosing.

Incredible job. Doper of the month(at least) award from me.
  #134  
Old 06-12-2006, 08:32 PM
Antonius Block Antonius Block is offline
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Superb work, ligeti! (BTW, are you named after this guy? If so, my condolences.) Hope you decide to subscribe, or take samclem up on his offer.

What a wonderful first post!
  #135  
Old 06-12-2006, 09:08 PM
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This is why I love the Dope! Ligeti, fascinating stuff, and I sure hope you stick around!

I would be interested in how you did your research, and how much time it took. Did you use personal contacts, super-google, personal music history knowledge, or what? Did our Dope thread inspire you or did you have this question in your mind earlier than that?
  #136  
Old 06-12-2006, 10:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squeegee
OK, here's an instance of the "Chinese Riff" that would predate KFF, if we could track it down:

There's a Warner Brother's Tweetie & Sylvester cartoon that I'm pretty sure contains the melody, and would have been made in the 50's or 60's. I don't recall the plot, but the ending had Sylvester hit by something so large, or falling so far, that he went splat through the planet and ends up in China. You see Sylvester plop out of the earth with the perspective inverted - the sky below. The camera turns over and we see Sylvester gawking at pagodas and other chinese brik-a-brak. Queue "Chinese Riff", exactly the same as KFF, and just as cliched in this instance. A Chinese Tweetie appears, and says in jibberish fake Chinese, with subtitles, "I thought I saw a puddy tat."

Ring a bell, anyone?
I remember that cartoon--but it was the Coyote who goes through the middle of the earth on a cartoon rocket, and comes up in an inverted China (drawn all stylised), and a rock outcropping stops his flight, then the camera turns over and he falls on the ground next to the rocket hole.

An "oriental" Roadrunner appears on Japanese clog sandals, goes "beep beep" (with mock-chinese characters in a word balloon), and startles the Coyote backwards, and he falls back into the hole, goes back through the earth, and comes up in the desert again.

Did they use that gag more than once?

I remember an episode of the Muppet Show from the seventies where the Japanese and Chinese references are all mixed up. (The Muppets are signing the song "Oklahoma" to an oriental motif, complete with pagodas and kimonos.) I suspect that cluefulness in the differences between Chinese and Japanese (and, for that matter, Korean) is fairly recent here.
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  #137  
Old 06-12-2006, 10:23 PM
F. U. Shakespeare F. U. Shakespeare is offline
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Bravo Ligeti!

It was a sheer delight to read and listen to all your research.
  #138  
Old 06-13-2006, 02:20 AM
mani mani is offline
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Thanks everybody for your compliments. Great to see that somebody was interested in such a large pile of (despite all still somewhat inconclusive) information about this little piece of trivia.

Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem
ligeti. When your guest membership runs out, I'll pay for your membership. Just email me a day or so ahead.

I'll also put in a word for you with Dex about writing a report on some subject of your choosing.
Well, thanks a lot. But now this makes me feel so ashamed that I feel I just have to reveal that this actually is my second account: I registered a guest account with the username mani a little more than a month ago, mainly in order to be able to tell people in the other thread on this subject (not to be confused with any of the other other threads) about my "Betty Boop finding" (see below), which was how I initially got hooked up on this subject.

Today, when the website with my findings finally was up, my mani account had expired, and I registered a new account from another email adress, mainly out of convenience and because I'm not culturally accustomed to paying for participating in online discussion forums.

So, with that out of the bag I gladly accept your offer preliminarily, in case that I don't get expelled for the above, or decide that dignity demands that I pay the fee myself now. By the way, can I see you mail adress in some way?

(That the word ligeti popped up in my mind when registering the new account must be some weird case of subliminal perception: I didn't know (or didn't think that I knew) that he died today, and I'm actually not very aquainted at all with this composer.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat
I would be interested in how you did your research, and how much time it took. Did you use personal contacts, super-google, personal music history knowledge, or what? Did our Dope thread inspire you or did you have this question in your mind earlier than that?
I think I first read about this topic in a not very informative thread in some other forum, which linked to this thread. Some hour later during that same surfing pass I serendipitously came upon a 1935 Betty Boop cartoon on YouTube which contained the modern KFF variant of the riff. But it was first some week later when I stumbled upon the ucsb.edu Cylinder Digitization Project that I realized that it was possible for me to do some serious research on this.

And sure it has taken a lot and probably too much time, but the thing that took by far the most time, and was the most dull, was preparing those note examples and midi files. Searching the music archives for instances is a relatively fast affair: searching on strategic keywords gives a basic harvest, but as an emergency measure it is not too bad to simply go through a list of some thousand titles (if you can get them on one big html page) to see which may have a Far East theme, because during certain periods they are really common; closer to one song in a hundred that one in a thousand, and of those with a Far East almost as many as half of them contain at least something that is somewhat similar to the proto-cliché.

I was helped by my music ear education: I can read music (if it's not all too complex) and hear it in my head, and transcribing from recordings is a relatively fast matter. But I would probably have managed without any such abilities, with a keybord at hand by the computer (and the pattern is actually easily spotted visually in sheet music).

I didn't know anything about this type of music beforehand, which is why it kept being an interesting journey to me.
  #139  
Old 06-13-2006, 02:33 AM
mani mani is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspace
I remember that cartoon--but it was the Coyote who goes through the middle of the earth on a cartoon rocket, and comes up in an inverted China (drawn all stylised), and a rock outcropping stops his flight, then the camera turns over and he falls on the ground next to the rocket hole.

An "oriental" Roadrunner appears on Japanese clog sandals, goes "beep beep" (with mock-chinese characters in a word balloon), and startles the Coyote backwards, and he falls back into the hole, goes back through the earth, and comes up in the desert again.

Did they use that gag more than once?
Every cartoon gag was used more than once. This one was also used in Disney's "Donald Applecore" from 1952, where Donald's usage of "nuclear pills" to hunt Chip and Dale (I personally get a very bad aftertaste from this kind of jokes about nuclear weapons) creates a very deep hole in the ground. Unfortunately that one (like the Tweety & Sylvester one) is devoid of the "Asian riff" (in fact there is no music at all is played during that moment).

Searching for the riff in cartoons is made somewhat more difficult by the fact that these parts tend to be censored when the cartoons are shown today, due to their containing racial stereotyping.
  #140  
Old 06-13-2006, 07:12 AM
samclem samclem is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ligeti



Well, thanks a lot. But now this makes me feel so ashamed that I feel I just have to reveal that this actually is my second account: I registered a guest account with the username mani a little more than a month ago, mainly in order to be able to tell people in the other thread on this subject (not to be confused with any of the other other threads) about my "Betty Boop finding" (see below), which was how I initially got hooked up on this subject.

Today, when the website with my findings finally was up, my mani account had expired, and I registered a new account from another email adress, mainly out of convenience and because I'm not culturally accustomed to paying for participating in online discussion forums.

So, with that out of the bag I gladly accept your offer preliminarily, in case that I don't get expelled for the above, or decide that dignity demands that I pay the fee myself now. By the way, can I see you mail adress in some way?

.
My email is [Sclements@neo.rr.com] remove the brackets

I'll pay you up tonight. I"ve already emailed an Administrator. What screen name do you want to keep?
  #141  
Old 06-13-2006, 07:28 AM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem
I'll pay you up tonight. I"ve already emailed an Administrator. What screen name do you want to keep?
Not so fast, Samclem, -- don't we get to run him thru our initiation rites first? Propose an impossible task? See if he knows how many words end with -gry?
  #142  
Old 06-13-2006, 09:34 AM
mani mani is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat
Not so fast, Samclem, -- don't we get to run him thru our initiation rites first? Propose an impossible task? See if he knows how many words end with -gry?
In my native language Swedish I can only think of one: "gry". Is "ogry" an English word?

Anyway, this is very cool of you, samclem, and I feel a bit weird about the situation. I'd keep mani if I get past these initiatory purgations.
  #143  
Old 06-13-2006, 11:27 AM
mani mani is offline
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Yeah, I know, this means I lose. Like I care anyway.
  #144  
Old 10-09-2006, 10:14 PM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is offline
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Another close sighting

Here is a short clip from the 1974 movie The Wrestler. After Ed Asner says "China," you can hear it very faintly. Not exactly the KFF riff, but very, very close. (I apologize for the crude quality, but my capture equipment isn't.)

http://s98.photobucket.com/albums/l2...ckah/unknown1/
  #145  
Old 05-05-2010, 01:12 AM
asian_riff asian_riff is offline
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Sorry to bump really old threads, but I think this may be the earliest example of the exact oriental riff that has been found so far:

"Chop Suey"; August 24th, 1930; produced by Paul Terry and directed by Frank Moser for Terrytoons Studios

On youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Eczf92kKB4

The riff occurs 47 seconds in.
  #146  
Old 05-05-2010, 01:15 AM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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Thank you for your contribution, asian_riff. You've bumped two old threads on this subject. I'm going to close this one down - one thread at a time is plenty. The discussion about the song is continued here.
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