The history of the stereotyped "Asian" melodic riff




You want “Oriental”? Just play the black keys. Learned that 65 years ago.


pentatonic scale!



I liked cycling through the chords G-flat, E-flat minor, C-flat, D-flat. People who don’t know how to play piano, even young children, if they have a decent sense of rhythm can play a melody that sounds good if they just stick to the black notes.

Instant musician.


It also came up in one of my all-time favorite mefi threads (because I started it :smiley: )


Man, that song… It’s so offensive, yet so catchy.


Some WW2 John Wayne movie had him fighting the Japanese, and every time an American got sniped or bayoneted, they played that riff. It was fairly annoying.


I wonder if Gilbert & Sullivan started the trend? The Mikado definitely plays to this trope.


Also, the stereotyped “Middle Eastern” melody (“the snake charmer song”) was published by Sol Bloom in 1893 as “The Streets of Cairo”. Bloom, it should be noted, was not from the Middle East.


AKA “there’s a place in France where the ladies wear no pants”


Don’t bother asking at a travel agency (if you can find one); they’ll just throw you out.


pfft, tell me about it



Unrelated, but on a cool decidedly asian music riff, check out these brothers (literally):



Now I’m wondering about the origins of the seven note riff used to indicate native americans…


As opposed to Misirlou, the tune of which is from Asia Minor but which we now associate with Souther California because of Dick Dale


That is a great tune. The Kronos Quartet does a wonderful version of it on their album “Caravan”. I didn’t know that was an actual folk melody.


I like how after they wrote, they instantly knew it would turn them into a one hit wonder and deliberately stalled on releasing it as a single. Didn’t seem to help much.


No surprise there!

“The Orient” is an entirely Western creation. Maybe it was Said who said that?