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The Oriental Asian Chinese Japanese Tune

PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 12:47 pm
by kickassclassical
It's a musical stereotype, the recognizable riff that says Orient / Asia / China / Japan.

Hear it

This familiar phrase was used in the 1974 hit "Kung Fu Fighting" by Carl Douglas and the 1980 song "Turning Japanese" by The Vapors.

Who composed it and when, we don't know. It's a great pop culture mystery, and here's what we know about the short snippet:

1880s: Begun in a similar form to what it is now
1900s: Established in the public consciousness
1910s: Proliferated in popular music
1920s: Used in jazz instrumentals
1930s: Used in a few cartoons, developed into the exact tune we know today
1974: Brought back into popular usage by the song "Kung Fu Fighting"

One of the earliest versions of the tune
chinese-lullaby-sheet-music-east-is-west-asian-oriental-chinese-japanese-riff.jpg (147.96 KiB) Viewed 19689 times

Read more:
Wikipedia: Oriental Riff
The Musical Cliché Figure Signifying The Far East