This Week’s Caught in the Wild

You guys are just trying to make me use My Little Pony screenshots on all these posts, aren't you?
You guys are just trying to make me use My Little Pony screenshots on all these posts, aren’t you?

Mandydax pointed out last week that our listeners should be “owl-eared”, not “eagle-eared”. She is, of course, completely correct. Here’s what our owl-eared listeners picked up this week.

From Wdonohue: “Bogey’s [wolf whistle] reminded me of sheepherding whistle commands, which aren’t just for sheep, but other stock and game animal herding dogs. The wolf whistle is at the 20 second mark: That said, I think the shipboard signal whistle origin is more likely.”

For those who don’t want to go to YouTube, here’s just the key clip. (The sound distortion is from the clip itself.) In the video, the code is for “come by”, which commands the dog to circle the livestock:

*head explodes*

Wow, that never even crossed my mind. Wow, that’s close, too. Also, the fact that the phenomenon is called a “wolf whistle” links the call back to canines… wow.

I couldn’t find a history of herding whistles, but it seems that each dog often has a different set of whistle commands, so when multiple dogs are working together they don’t get confused. Thus, the whistle heard above isn’t necessarily the same whistle used for different dogs.

Thus, I agree with Wdononue that the sailor story is probably a more likely origin for the wolf whistle. However, this may still be part of the story.

From Steve D: “Just heard take 4 [of the Wilhelm Scream] in ‘Lockout’, about 18 minutes in. :D”

I couldn’t find a clip of it online, but I do remember catching the Wilhelm when I saw Lockout in a theater in West Virginia. According to IMDB, the scream happens when an inmate trips and falls right after coming out of stasis.

Good catch! Also, I’m sorry you watched Lockout. (/snark)

Also from Wdonohue: “Not a link to the origin [of the drum sting], but: I searched on ‘muppet show rim shot’ and this was the top result. It’s all about timing:”

I. Love. Muppets.

From Mandydax, also about the drum sting: “You know I can’t resist: Pinkie Pie Rimshot. /) to Fes for me. ;D”

My Little Pony strikes again. (See what I did there? Heyo!)

And finally, here’s one I found. It seems that OH!3 recorded a song called “Starstrukk” that is almost entirely predicated upon the wolf whistle. Clip and full video below. Warning: Katy Perry content.

Of Stings and Rimshots

It’s the calling card of the lounge comedian: you make a joke, and the drummer behind you whips out a ba-dum-bump.

For example, “Two drums and a cymbal fall off a cliff…”

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(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

This little punch-up is known as a sting. Wikipedia describes it thusly:

Stings may take the form of a short roll followed by crash cymbal and kick drum, a flam, or a rimshot.

An example basic sting is shown below, consisting of a tom followed by a kick, a short rest and then kick, snare and choked crash together.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Many folks know this sound as a “rimshot”, but in reality a rimshot is only a component of the sting. A rimshot happens when you hit the head and the rim of a drum simultaneously, producing one sharp beat.

We know more about the rimshot than we know about the sting. Jazz drummer Gene Krupa, who played with the likes of Benny Goodman and Anita O’Day, is generally credited with the creation of the rimshot on the snare drum. The sting seems to have a long history with cabarets and circuses, but I’ve run across very little that would hint at an actual history. (Part of the difficulty comes from the general confusion between the terms sting and rimshot, and the general mess of searching things like “drum sting” on Google. Curse you, Gordon Sumner!) If you have any inkling of where the drum sting might come from, please send us a note!

In the meantime, here’s a clip from Young Frankenstein (1974), where Igor supplies his own sting. (The key bit is at 1:25 in this clip.)

Where else have you heard the drum sting?