Where does that stereotypical "oriental" song come from?

Someone on the other thread mentioned Charlie Chan movies. Can anyone confirm hearing this song in that series?

I know the tune the OP is talking about. Its the one my cell phone rings too. Its included as a ring tone in the Sanyo RL7300.

Might some ring-tone download site have a named copy of it? Or is the name “Turning Japanese”?

Damn … this is one of the few times I’ve really seen the board stumped.

dee-dee dee-dee dee-da-dee-dee–dee dee-dee-da-dee-dee-dee-dee GONG

drop the last dee

Got it! Go here and play “asian jingle”.

that’s it on the beginning of the ring tone… not so much the second half of it though

what Carnac said. all the dee dee duh duhs makes no sense to me.
visit Pucca and check out their flash animations’ intro ditty, which is similar to x-ray vision’s link.

I don’t hear an intro ditty. What’s supposed to happen when you click “jump”? I’m trying to time my jumps and nothing’s happening.

i have no idea. i don’t get the jump button either.

i didn’t realise the link wasn’t a direct one. you’ll have to click on ‘vooz menu’ for the dropdown list and click on ‘animation’, then choose a title from the Pucca’s animation list.

It this the tune fragment you are looking for?

yeah, that’s the one. so, any clues?

Unfortunately, no. I only posted that score snippet so we could be on the same page; at least we know it’s not Chopsticks!

I posted the same link on the Musipedia song search forum, but haven’t received any replies yet. As good as that site would be for this kind of search, it doesn’t seem to have a large membership.

I tried encoding the motif as Parsons code (see the Musipedia site) and searching on Musipedia. Unfortunately, the Parsons code is so general that it returned 10+ pages of possible tune refs and I didn’t spot a good match in the first 3 pages.

When I wrote that snippet in music notation, I had in my head Elton John’s Crocodile Rock. I can also recall Spanky & Our Gang using it for Hong Kong Blues, and Henry Mancini using it whenever Mickey Rooney’s ersatz oriental character popped up in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It was probably used by every piano player that ever accompanied a silent movie.

No help here, but the riff is also used in the New York Dolls “Bad Detective”(a cover song IIRC)

Use the “code” tag:

I found a promising, then dissapointing, page: Movie Music Folios, piano music intended for silent films. At the top of the contents list for “Sam Fox Moving Picture Music,” it says, “Click on a title to play,” and some of the titles include Oriental Veil Dance, Chinese Music, and Oriental Music. But the titles are not links and nothing plays. However, the written notes for another folio on the same page say

So close, and yet so far.

It is impossible to disprove a negative, so I can’t prove my assersion: this particular tune does not have an origin in any particular song. It is less a tune than a sound effect imitating so-called Oriental music forms by using parallel fifths.
Tunes containing parallel fifths and containing mostly sequential quarter notes and eighth notes will often fool the untrained Western ear into thinking they are the same.

I’ve already heard several people on this thread talk about 3 or 4 distinctly different instances of this form as though they were the same tune. The one that most people seem to agree on, which has also been displayed here in notation, is the sample from the funk tune “Kung Fu Fighting.” David Bowie’s uses a version of it in “China Girl” that is distinctly different although not dramatically so.

If I’m right, this thread will never identify any origin of this exact tune snippet, but will eventually agree upon the first Western movie or song to make use of a very similar tune.

Hereare some excerpts from a paper entitledOrientalism and Musical Style .

I think these exerpts lend weight to my assertion that although we can all recall a specific instance of this form, that the form itself has no named precedent other than the body of western-composed Orientalist music.

Nine? I would have thought seven-toned (in the same sense that pentatonic is five-toned) or, if you want to include both tonics, eight-toned (hence the octave).

I guess I probably should not have mentioned the Bowie song because it clearly does not have the tune I’m talking about-- it only hints at it. And because it only hints at it, I may have confused the reader base here. I’m not referring to the pentatonic “sound” or that stereotypical ‘oriental’ music aesthetic. I am talking about the specific tune, and I’m sure it’s a specific tune rather than a “sound.” It’s obviously in “Turning Japanese” and “Kung Fu Fighting”. Surely we can agree that the snippets featured in these tracks are the same song, right?

(Well, it seems that we’re getting somewhere with this. But still, maybe it’s worth getting Cecil involved, huh?)