"Ba da ba da ba bup"
March 13, 2014 12:29 PM   Subscribe

Need some help identifying the origin of this small, common riff.

Featured in this six-second video.


Sounds like something from Looney Tunes or the ending to a ragtime song, but I can't figure out where it's actually from. This is hard to google. Any insight appreciated.
posted by one of these days to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I'm at work, so I can't watch the video, but could this by any chance be the Minsky Pickup?
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:34 PM on March 13, 2014

Response by poster: Not it, but similar in style. I feel like it would be used after a punchline or to play out a show/transition rather than as a pickup.

And no, it's also not "shave and a haircut, two bits" either. :)
posted by one of these days at 12:36 PM on March 13, 2014

It's almost, but not perfectly, the Death sound from Mario
posted by kellygrape at 12:43 PM on March 13, 2014

Minksy Pickup goes the wrong way (note tend up/higher, not down/lower).

On this virtual keyboard, the tune is C1 C1 C1 G A F F1.
posted by hanov3r at 12:44 PM on March 13, 2014

The Maple Leaf Rag?
posted by jbickers at 12:49 PM on March 13, 2014

Sounds just like a snippet from the old Super Mario Brothers game. Not the sound that kellygrape links above, but another one, part of the general soundtrack to the game.

Right at the very beginning of this clip is what I'm talking about. Superman's tones don't quite match, but the rhythm is spot on.
posted by Liesl at 12:54 PM on March 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Amazingly this was asked here previously. And here's a reddit thread with the unsatisfying "solution" that it's called "Vaudeville Seven Note Fanfare 1" on this random stock music CD.
posted by theodolite at 12:57 PM on March 13, 2014 [10 favorites]

I've always thought of it as, "That's the end of our show!" but I have no idea where that came from.

Weird Al has used it as a tag at the end of at least one of his polkas--and generally the musical portions of those polkas that aren't "covers" of other artists' material are attributed to him. Which indicates that either he actually wrote that tag (unlikely) or that it's considered "traditional." I suspect it's from Vaudeville.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:57 PM on March 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's the punchline sting from Rowan & Martin's Laugh-in. I don't know how else to describe it enough to zero in on it in a Google search, but you'll hear at :35 in this video. From what I've found, I'm certain it's native to that show; definitely not as old as Looney Tunes or ragtime.

I'm also sure that it was popularized for non-Boomer generations (i.e., the reason it appears in a Seth Green show and of course why I'm familiar with it) by this segment from the Homer's mother episode of The Simpsons.
posted by deathmaven at 1:04 PM on March 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

I agree with deathmaven that, while it may have older roots in Vaudeville, I instantly thought "Laugh-in," even having never seen an episode of the show. It got kind of embedded in the brains of boomers there and passed down in pop culture via other works they created, like the Simpsons linked above.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:09 PM on March 13, 2014

Well, I know it best as the sting at the end of the theme song to You Can't Do That on Television. B
posted by inturnaround at 1:23 PM on March 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

Whoops, I made my especially authoritative comment without seeing the previous answers; but if there was a musical sting popular in vaudeville, it would show up in a Looney Tunes cartoon. Especially if it still comes up in pop-culture in the 21st century. But I watch a lot of old cartoons and have never heard this riff come up (the "Vaudeville Seven Note Fanfare 2" on that CD does often), while it shows up plenty of times in comedies after 1968. I suspect they called it that because a punchline sting is an especially vaudeville convention.
posted by deathmaven at 1:25 PM on March 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think Sesame Street used this pretty regularly too, though now we're getting into the "many examples of" and not the origin story. Vaudeville seems right to me: a comical music tagline.
posted by turtlegirl at 1:27 PM on March 13, 2014

I came to suggest the Mario Theme Song. Although that riff overall is probably based on something, too.
posted by Crystalinne at 2:00 PM on March 13, 2014

I can't for the life of me remember where I read this (hence no reference, but it was probably Modern Drummer or a similar magazine) but I'm pretty sure that the riff/rhythm originated from early New Orleans jazz bands.

I remember looking at a transcription of some of (the amazing) Earl Palmer's drum fills and reading that this iconic rhythm came from second line New Orlean's drumming.
posted by hector horace at 2:27 PM on March 13, 2014

If you've ever been in Chorus Line, the Minsky pickup is drilled into your head at the opening of the show. First notes you hear.

I had a similar non-fulfilling experience trying to find the origins of some of those old horror zingers from silent movies. Some of the most famous and iconic all have names like, "Act 2 pickup, roll 3. Adagio.' Very unsatisfying. And a really hard thing to google, at least for me.
posted by umberto at 2:49 PM on March 13, 2014

Similar to what hector horace is saying, i swear there used to be an old geocities/angelfire page in like 1997-2001 that was a MASSIVE repository of information about little musical flourishes like this in old movies/cartoons that explained as much history as the guy could find on them. It only had midi files to demonstrate them, but then would have a gigantic page explaining what the story behind them was.

Obviously, i'm never going to find the damn place again, but this was definitely on there.

By the way, i seem to remember that after it went through tons of "prior art" and shows it had appeared in, it gave the same unsatisfying and nonspecific "this was widely used in vaudeville bla bla bla" answer.

I think this may have been a very early case of a meme, propagating wildly along with the first truly widespread broadcasted/distributed film and records, outreach of radio, etc. I think no matter how hard you drilled the best you'd ever find would be the first 78rpm comedy record that had this riff on it or something, and not the actual origin.
posted by emptythought at 3:04 PM on March 13, 2014

It goes at least as far back as Spike Jones, who frequently used that riff as a song ender. (And it's off the topic, but I suggest going back to the beginning of that and hearing/seeing the whole thing. Spike Jones and his band were awesome.)
posted by JHarris at 3:05 PM on March 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

"Vaudeville Seven Note Fanfare 2" instantly made me remember The Three Stooges. They never used #1?
posted by JoeZydeco at 3:06 PM on March 13, 2014

It goes at least as far back as Spike Jones , who frequently used that riff as a song ender.

Welp I stand corrected.
posted by deathmaven at 3:28 PM on March 13, 2014

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