In anticipation for the new Star Wars films, the Star Wars media team has been posting the original trailers for the original Star Wars films to YouTube. The Star Wars trailer and the Empire Strikes Back trailers are odes to a bygone time where every trailer was painstakingly narrated by men with serious voices.
On Wednesday, the media team posted the first Return of the Jedi trailer, which still bears the original title of Revenge of the Jedi. When I watched it, I chuckled that sound designer Ben Burtt even managed to get a Wilhelm Scream in the damn trailer. It’s right there at 1:09:
I apologize that The Sound and the Foley hasn’t had a regular posting for a couple months, but this post took a while. In fact, I wound up pouring over 45 hours of media into my eyeballs and earholes in order to find the answer to this one.
In one section of that post, I note that most online sources cite Tarzan films as being a prime source of ill-placed kookaburra sounds. However, none of those sources specify which Tarzan film first contained a wayward kookaburra. There are around 90 Tarzan films listed in the Internet Movie Database, ranging from the silent film era to modern day. Obviously, if the first several films were silent, the kookaburra bird call was not always part of the Tarzan entertainment franchises. So… where did it start?
Nobody online seemed to know.
Of course, that meant I had to start watching a crapload of Tarzan films just to find out. Because that is the way I am.
I am a big fan of an Italian film named Diabolik, which was directed by the super-stylish Mario Bava back in 1968. In the film, John Philip Law plays a super-thief who basically robs people and is a general nuisance while looking ridiculously cool. There’s even a scene where he canoodles with his girlfriend in a giant, rotating, circular bed completely covered in money.
Anyway, in 1997, the Beastie Boys made a song called “Body Movin'”, and they made a music video for it that re-stages several scenes from Diabolik:
Wait, now… What is it that I hear at the 5:09 mark of that video?
Wait… isn’t that…?
Yes! That’s one of the sounds from a video game called DOOM. You may have heard of it. And you’ve probably heard its doors in many other places.
If you have questions about your birthday song, I have the perfect birthday cake for you.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records of 1998, the song “Happy Birthday to You” is the most recognized song in the English language. People young and old grown up hearing the song dozens of times per year, as it gets trotted out for every birthday for every person they know. A cursory search of IMDB reveals that the song appears on the soundtracks of nearly 500 TV shows and movies.
According to the Warner/Chappel music publishing company, “Happy Birthday to You” is also still under copyright. That’s right: you technically have to pay money to sing “Happy Birthday to You”. However, the copyright for “Happy Birthday to You” is soon coming under fire in the US courts, a conflict that just boiled up in the news over the last couple weeks.
It has been a busy few weeks at Sound and the Foley Studios (aka my apartment), but our dear owl-eared listeners have not been slacking. Below are recent discoveries by readers of this blog.
THE VILLAINS THEME
Listener Gerry Masi writes: “Hello, Frank Zappa used it in his song Zomby Woof (sic). [The Villains Theme] comes after the guitar solo in all the live versions of the song (complete with villain laugh). Thanks for your investigations, we have been wracking our brains trying to find any info on this. Hear it at 4:22 [in the clip below]. … That’s a cover band BTW.”
If I’m not mistaken, the singer in that video is also our owl-eared listener above. Well played, Gerry! Glad we could help, and thank you for the link!
I did poke around the Internet to find a live Frank Zappa recording that also included the Villains Theme, but I haven’t found one yet. Looks like I need to listen to a lot more Zappa. Not that I mind. I do loves me some Zappa.
THE TARZAN YELL
Listener Ken Hite writes, “Perhaps some mention should be made of Italian pop band Baltimora‘s joy-inducing 1985 New Wave song ‘Tarzan Boy,’ which uses the Tarzan yell as the melodic throughline of the refrain.”
First, I feel silly for missing this one. Second, I am suddenly 10 years old again, sitting cross-legged in front of MTV, surrounded by my collection of snap bracelets, prismatic unicorn stickers, and Stephen King novels (which were covered in prismatic unicorn stickers). Thanks for the time travel, Ken!
Below is a clip from the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). The scene is set deep within the jungles of South America, and the sound department is ensuring that we know it’s a jungle. The key part starts around 2:12 in the video:
(Side note: this clip is from a pan-and-scanLaserdisc copy of the film, which simultaneously horrifies and amuses me.)
Here’s another sound clip, of the more stereotypical version of the sound heard in films:
Okay, show of hands. Who actually knows what that jungle sound is? Hint: it’s not a monkey.
“Hey, Scotty! This thing just space-beeped at me!”
Our eagle-eared readers have done it again! Here are more discoveries about things we’ve discussed here at The Sound and the Foley.
Mandydax says, “I was just starting Mythbusters and there’s that sound in the opening credits just before Adam says ‘It’s SCIENTIFIC!’ They do a quick close up of his face with his hat brim pulled down and ‘screeeeee!'”
Wow, I’ll need to try to dig that one up! Some cursory searching online reveals that a) Mythbusters has a ton of different opening sequences, and b) none of them are the one you found. Looks like it’s time for me to go watch a whole bunch of Mythbusters. Oh, the humanity!
This upcoming Saturday, I will be speaking at the College of Curiosity’s Conference of Curiosity in Chicago. My subject?
(Cue the dun dun DUNNNNN!*)
I will be speaking about The Sound and the Foley project, of course!
Subjects in my talk will range from items discussed here on the blog to subjects that (gasp!) I have not yet covered. Yes, that’s right: I’ll be bringing up some new material at the conference.
If you are in the Chicago area and would like to join in the fun, tickets are a suggested donation of $60, and include things like lunch and a very curious goodie bag. One of the other speakers is a man who was once the most dangerous man in the world, so, really, you shouldn’t miss this.
* Oh hey! I should also write about the history of the dramatic music sting…
In an earlier post, I made a quick note about the ubiquitous nature of the chord progression in a piece of music called “Canon and Gigue for 3 violins and basso continuo”, also known as Pachelbel’s Canon, also known as “the ‘Freebird’ of classical music.” (Thanks to TVTropes.org for that last one.)
But today, we shall look at Pachelbel’s Canon itself. For those of you who have heard this piece of music a million times at weddings but don’t know it by name, here’s a snip from a recording by the London Symphony Orchestra. (You can hear the full piece here.)
Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706) was a German composer from the Baroque era. He was a hugely popular composer during his life, and composed an enormous body of work.
Pachelbel was also a teacher, and wound up tutoring the Bach family, among others. Though Pachelbel did not directly tutor Johann Sebastian Bach, he did tutor Johann Chrisoph Bach, Johann Sebastian’s older brother. J.S. Bach was in turn tutored by Johann Christoph Bach, and then later turned into another Baroque megastar.
In fact, Pachelbel might have written “Canon and Gigue” for Johann Christoph Bach’s wedding, according to a theory by Hans-Joachim Schulze. (It is known that Pachelbel wrote music for the wedding, and that he attended the event.)
Pachelbel was best known in life as an organist and an organ composer, even though his choral works (like the Canon) are what are best known today. The irony of this is that most of his chamber works are lost. The “Canon and Gigue” are two rare ones that survived.