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The "Snake Charmer Belly Dancer" Song

What's that classical music I heard?

The "Snake Charmer Belly Dancer" Song

Postby deadly-divine » Mon Aug 18, 2008 6:16 pm

Hello anyone and everyone,

I was wondering if anyone could tell me the name of the song played in Tim Burton's first stop animation, Vincent? If you're not familiar with it, it's on youtube and very easy to find. But I know there's a classic tune played on the flute in that short and I've been dying to know what it's called. If you can help, thanks!
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Re: The "Snake Charmer Belly Dancer" Song

Postby kickassclassical » Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:13 pm

Ah, one of our favorite pieces on our Top Themes page.

The tune you are looking for is called "The Streets Of Cairo." It is the song you hear in cartoons to set the scene for Egypt, pyramids, camel caravans, belly dancers, the desert, or the Middle East.

It's also the tune to the children's rhyme...

"There's a place in France where the naked ladies dance.
There's a hole in the wall where the men can see it all."

[Update: This music is used as the tune to the chorus in Ke$ha's "Take It Off," with the lyrics...

"There's a place downtown where the freaks all come around.
It's a hole in the wall, it's a dirty free for all."

and...

"There's a place I know if you're looking for a show.
Where they go hardcore and there's glitter on the floor."]

The music was introduced to America at the The Chicago World's Fair in 1893 by Sol Bloom, who was the entertainment director of the event.

Sol used the tune in an attraction called "A Street In Cairo," which featured Egyptian-style entertainment like snake charmers, camel rides and belly dancers. He claimed to have written the tune, but he never copyrighted it. So the tune was used by others, including James Thornton for his 1895 version of the melody, "The Streets Of Cairo, Or The Poor Little Country Maid."

Because of its association with the art of erotic, suggestive belly dancing, the music has been commonly referred to as the "Hootchy Kootchy Dance," or "Hootchie Kootchie Dance."

Why Tim Burton chose to use it at the beginning and end of his 1982 stop-motion short film "Vincent," we don't know. Perhaps because it's so closey associated with the childhood rhyme, and therefore childhood itself. Ken Hilton did a great job arranging the piece, with its isolated, haunting flute, for the short film.

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