We’ve all heard it. a rhythmic knock on a door or an exhuberant anouncement of arrival on the car horn.

Just what is the origin of this brief rhythm?

I think it’s kind of a riff on the “Shave and a Haircut,” which is kind of a jingle. I remember reading some novel where one of the characters knocked “Shave and a haircut” on another’s door.

And it’s something no toon can resist.

You’ve got one knock too many in the representation for the “shave and a haircut” part, and you left off the “two bits”. Also, the “hair cut” knocks are slower than the “and a”. I wasn’t sure from the description that that was what was intended. In 4/4, the pattern is quarter, eighth, eighth, quarter, quarter. To add the “two bits” it’s quarter-rest, quarter, quarter, quarter-rest.

It goes back quite a ways:

Interesting tidbit from Wikipedia:

Actually, I think he’s just missing one knock in the middle bit–“Shave……two.bits.”

In my group of family and friends they know exactly what I mean when I hum this.
Murry’s a wanker too true (and he really really is)

One of the versions in Spain is “hijo de puta, cabrón” - “son of a whore, pimp”. Definitely not something you want to sing while knocking on the door or desk of a big guy with a hot temper…

I thought this was going to be a question about Ellen Feiss.

Or the “Beep, Beep” song:

I heard the same pattern in an old tune played by the band during The Goon Show. The song was called “Cloudburst”. Here’s one version, give a listen. Clearly the “shave and a haircut” came first; I have no idea why they’d put that old familiar riff in a new song.

Haha! I love the “fuck your mother, asshole!” meaning in Mexico. Dramatic cultural differences like that amuse me. Like the peace sign or V-for-victory being equivalent to giving someone the finger somewhere else.

Supposedly POWs in Hanoi would knock on the wall with “Shave and a Hair Cut” as a trust password when trying to communicate with each other, because the Vietnamese were unfamiliar with the fact that the only possible response was “Two Bits” (communicating through the walls by knocking on solid surfaces, rather)

There’s a five-note phrase now, sadly, seemingly lost in antiquity that means “you’re a horse’s ass.” Warner Bros. cartoons occasionally made use of it (starting at the 5:45 mark for context) and it sometimes crops up in old black-and-white movies involving wise guys wearing short ties and double-breasted suits.

Whenever I hear it I wonder about the Hayes Office’s dedication to the job.

On a tangentially-related note, I miss the use of a donkey as a visual metaphor for someone being a jackass in cartoons.