This Week’s Spotted in the Wild

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.


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.


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!

This Week’s Caught in the Wild

I was in New Orleans last weekend, so I missed last week’s Caught in the Wild, so this is actually two weeks’ worth of catches. However, I wasn’t being lazy on my vacation. While I was in a N’Awlins jazz club, I heard a band open with… the Villains Theme!

That’s “Froggy Bottom Blues” by the Smoking Time Jazz Club. I highly recommend seeing them perform live.

Meanwhile, it seems that you guys have had busy ears, too!

First, Scott Keever has an update about the Law & Order Donk Donk sound: “For the record, Mike Post calls it the ‘Ching ching’ cuz of all the money he makes off of it – Heh heh… but don’t take my word for it… Go to 18:25 of this link – an interview with Mike Post. (I love this whole interview, by the way…When I have younger folks asking me about composing for TV and film, I send them to this interview – Mike Post is the coolest…)”

Well spied, Scott! And thanks! I was actually looking for bit of interview when I was writing the article and couldn’t find it. I love that Mike Post makes royalties off the sound because it’s technically a piece of music and not a sound effect.

Next, Daniel Taylor caught an instance of Entrance of the Gladiators: “It was used in one of the Madagascar movies, with inane lyrics attached.”

Oh boy. The culprit seems to be Madagascar 3:

Speaking of Entrance of the Gladiators, Roho had this tidbit: “Not ‘Gladiators’, but someplace pointed out that Jerry Goldsmith’s (awesome) Gremlins music was intended to be in the vein of the Circus Screamer.”

I. Love. Gremlins.

And yes, I can totally see how the theme can be a circus screamer:

And now… Red-Tailed Hawk updates. You guys caught a lot of Red-Tailed Hawks.

First, Jen Manna points out: “Pick just about any movie with a western theme, including Rango. … Also, all the Looney Tunes set in a western theme. Often times when Wile E. Coyote falls down a vast cavern, there’s a small hawk or eagle circling and that sound bite.”

Spacebug notes that: “Oh, just heard it, rewatching Cabin In the Woods! It shows up when the camper is going through the tunnel. But, as the rest of the movie, it’s making a comic nod to its ubiquitousness, so that’s kind of awesome.”

Neowolf says: “This sound shows up in World of Warcraft.  For example, if you have a hunter character and switch it to use ‘Aspect of the Hawk’, the sound effect includes a hawk cry.”

Jennifer Mencken was on a roll: “Two for two tonight, both the Eddie Izzard Treasure Island and The Eagle with Channing Tatum.”

And everyone noted that the sound shows up in the intro of the Colbert Report. (Thanks to Roger Pavelle, Sandy Darst, Mandydax, and anyone else I missed.) The sound usually shows up as the very first sound in the episode, and then at the end of the theme song (over the image of an eagle). You can see it yourself in, well, just about any episode on the show’s website.

Finally, Mandydax gets super extra credit for locating video of a real Steller’s Jay mimicking the cry of a Red-Tailed Hawk. Behold as life imitates art:

Villains Theme Sheet Music

In the main post about the Villains Theme last week, I had pointed to various versions of the theme, but never managed to find a true copy of J. S. Zamecnik’s “Mysterioso” tune.

Well, thanks to the Mont Alto Ragtime and Tango Orchestra website, I now have my greedy little hands on the sheet music.


The Mont Alto group also provides a number of MIDI files on their site, so you can hear what these Zamecnik pieces actually sound like (as long as you still have a MIDI player). If you don’t want to mess with MIDI, here’s an .mp3 of “Mysterious – Burglar Music 1”, which I recorded off the MIDI file. (The performance in the file is copyright (P) 1998 by Rodney Sauer.)

The music is definitely a bit different from the theme we know so well, but it is undeniably a variant. I’m not entirely sure if this means this is the “patient zero” of the Villains Theme (and later versions were variants), or if Zamecnik was doing a variant from an earlier theme that also spawned the later Villains Theme, but it definitely lands very early in the Villains Theme history.

The music and the sheet music publication are in the public domain. If you want to see Zamecnik’s entire Sam Fox Moving Picture Music, Volume 1, here it is in .pdf format.

(I suppose this means I also need to track down the sheet music to the Remick Folio of Moving Picture Music, vol. I, to compare the versions of the Villains Theme. Apparently, there is a copy of the folio in the Arthur Kleiner Collection in the University of Minnesota libraries. Hmm…)

I also found a copy of the book Silent Film Sound by Rick Altman on Google Books. A discussion about Zamecnik’s silent film work and the Sam Fox music book starts on page 259. The “Mysterioso” is referenced on the following page.

This Week’s Caught in the Wild

mlpwilhelmOur eagle-eared correspondents are wild for the Wilhelm Scream this week!

From Jerry B: “Just heard [the Wilhelm Scream] in an opening cutscene for God of War III on the PS3.”

That is indeed a Wilhelm Scream! A cursory glance at YouTube suggests that there are Wilhelms all over the place in God of War III.

From Annie L: “We actually used the Wilhelm scream in my band’s cover of “Rock Lobster.” That was the first I’d heard of it – thanks for providing this write-up. :-)”

Pirates for Sail covered “Rock Lobster”, and the scream shows up at the very end of the track. Yar!

From Mandydax: “I think [the Wilhelm Scream] was one of the death screams in the original Command and Conquer. Also, if I’m not mistaken, it was in at least one episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, but I’d have to track down the scene to give you a YouTube reference.”

I couldn’t find a clear sound bite from Command and Conquer online, but a lot of people on the ‘net have heard the Wilhelm in the game. From what I can gather, the game features a lot of screaming.

The Wilhelm apparently shows up all over the place in MLP:FIM. This video points out three instances.

I knew it was only a matter of time until MLP:FIM showed up in a post here.

Mandydax also found examples of the Villains Theme: “I’m pretty sure I’ve heard that “sneaky music” in Looney Tunes cartoons. It probably predates those, too, but I knew I’d heard it in one of the Squirrel Nut Zippers’ songs, and I tracked it down to the title track from Bedlam Ballroom. It’s the very opening of it.”

I know for certain that I’ve heard the Villains Theme in Looney Tunes, too, but I’m having a hard time finding exactly where. Surely this means I need to rewatch all the Looney Tunes cartoons. Oh, tragedy!

Mystery Solved: The Villains Theme

In this blog’s introductory post, I pondered where the “daht daht dee DAAAA yat-dat-dat-dat-da.” tune came from. You know, that ditty you hear in old haunted house movies, or in cartoons when someone is sneaking around with ill intent.

The sample I cited then was this snippet from “Existential Blues” by T-Bone Stankus:

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(I’m also fascinated that this tiny clip also includes references to The Wizard of Oz and Man of La Mancha. But I digress.)

This particular snip of music has haunted me for years. I’ve never been able to track it down, because you can’t really Google “daht daht dee DAAAA yat-dat-dat-dat-da.”

And yet, within a couple of hours of the post going live, two fine people each provided a history of “Mysterioso Pizzicato”, which is also known as “Here Come the Villains” or the “Villains Theme”.

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