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Minsky Pickup

Dada-da da da da, OI!

"Dada, da dump dump dump! I am your singing telegram!" <BANG!>
Singing Telegram Girl, Clue

This is the six note Intro Fanfare to a Song and Dance number. (Actually it's a somewhat shortened version of an older 16-note intro, the shorter version being the more common these days.) Three notes of the same pitch, then up a full, up a half, up a half. "Dadum dadum dum dum!" It's rather ubiquitous, and originates from vaudeville or perhaps even earlier. In vaudeville it was known as the "Minsky Pickup" (undoubtedly named after Minsky's Burlesque and perhaps originating there), but it has also been called the "Cockney Intro."

The Minsky Pickup can also be used as an ending, with the final two notes sharpened.

Related to Stock Sound Effects, Standard Snippet. See Shave And A Haircut for an equally ubiquitous ending.

Not to be confused with this Minsky Pickup.

Examples:

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  • Back in the The Seventies, there was a TV spot for Chef Boy-ar-dee's Beefaroni and Beef-o-getti that had kids singing about which was their favorite, with a Minsky Pickup leading into the last lines of the song.
  • The theme for the Japanese retailer Sofmap.

Film
  • In the movie Clue, the singing telegram lady sings it just before she sings, "I am your singing telegram!"
  • In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the Camelot song: "(Dadum dah dump dump dump) We're knights of the Round Table/We dance whene'er we're able..."
  • In A Shot In The Dark, there's a Minsky Pickup just before the crow poops on Clouseau's head.
  • In the biopic Joplin, two pianists in a bar each perform this riff, alternating five times in rapid succession, in order to begin the piano duel.
  • The production of Romeo and Juliet in Hot Fuzz ends with a rendition of Lovefool that opens and closes with the riff.
  • During a pep talk/demo from one burlesque dancer to another in The Indestructible Man, appropriately.

Live-Action TV
  • In the The Honeymooners episode called "The $99,000 Answer" (after the fictional TV show Ralph is going on), when Ralph is cramming for an appearance on a game show where he has to identify songs, Norton is helping him by playing songs on the piano. EACH song is preceeded by Norton "Warming Up" which consists of the notes of "Way Down Upon the Swanee River" followed by "dadum, dadum dum dum!"
    • (FWIW it's the only Honeymooners episode that has its own page on The Other Wiki.)
    • Incidentally, there's an inside joke in that clip: The third song Ed plays for Ralph, that Ralph has trouble getting, is "Melancholy Serenade" - the theme song from The Jackie Gleason Show.
  • Whenever Fred, Ethel or Lucy would do a song on the I Love Lucy show they almost always started by singing a Minsky Pickup.
    • Considering Fred and Ethel were supposedly retired vaudevillians, this was entirely reasonable.
  • In Whose Line Is It Anyway? (US version), each of the Show-Stopping Numbers start off with the six note version.
  • It's in the beginning of The Muppet Show theme song.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 - From the episode where they watch Invasion of the Neptune Men:
    Crow: So, uh, do either of you guys know any songs about Stock Footage that could get us through this?
    Tom: Oh, I know a song about stock footage! It goes like this! Didit, da dit dit dit—EAT IT MOVIE! TAKE THIS STUPID LITTLE COCKROACH OF A FILM, ROLL IT UP SOOOOOO TIGHT, AND THEN RAM IT RIGHT UP YOUR—(breaks down sobbing).
  • It was in the intro to The Gong Show theme.
  • Played on the piano at the start of the solicitor's song ("a __ I would be") in Monty Python's Flying Circus; the same snippet was used in the "Pythonizer" on their Complete Waste of Time CD-ROM as a customization sound effect and keystroke noise.

Radio

Comedy
  • Bill Bailey calls it "the Cockney intro" in his Cockney Music sketch (40s in), and as such it also opens the theme he composed for East London-set sitcom World of Pub.
    • And then there's this. One of the few to actually use "OI!"

Music
  • It's within the intro of Doctor Steel's song, "The Dr. Steel Show".
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic uses it in at least two of his polka medleys - "The Alternative Polka"note  and "Polka Your Eyes Out". note 
  • At the beginning of Buzz Clifford's "Baby Sittin' Boogie"
  • Paul Hindemith uses it in his "Foxtrot" for piano.
  • Ian Dury And The Blockheads' "There Ain't Half Been Some Clever Bastards" ends with a Minksy pickup.
  • The "12th Street Rag" starts off with the long version of the pickup.
    • In this version of the rag, it come right before the finale (at the 50 second mark).
  • A variation of the long form appears near the end of Spike Jones' "The Black And Blue Danube Waltz."
    • "Jones Polka" makes something of an Overly Long Gag out of the pickup, starting about a half-minute in.
    • Several other songs done by Spike Jones have a spot in the middle where the song suddenly shifts into a fast gear and uses the pickup preceded by a bar of squeeze horns.
  • "Nothing From Nothing" by Billy Preston begins with the long version of the pickup.
  • In P.D.Q. Bach's Capriccio "La Pucelle de New Orleans," the 4-bar version of the pickup is one of the Dixieland band's intrusions.
  • "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag" by Country Joe and the Fish starts off using the longer version of the pickup.
  • It can be heard at the beginning of Jacques Brel's "Madeleine."
  • Occurs towards the end of The Beach Boys' "Look (Song For Children)".
  • Emilie Autumn's "Girls! Girls! Girls!", a 19th-century style showtune based on the practice of opening mental asylums to the public as a freakshow, ends with this.

Theater
  • The Music Man has this in the "Shipoopi" dance music, just before Hill and Marian start dancing together.
  • Also begins the show A Chorus Line. "Again!"
  • "Wrong Note Rag" from Wonderful Town uses a modulating version as a recurring break.
  • Gypsy, being a show about vaudeville, inevitably uses the Minsky pickup once, at the start of the Farmboys' number (but not in the Minsky's striptease sequence).
  • One Touch of Venus uses an off-key variation on the long version as a turnaround in "Way Out West In Jersey."

Video Games

Web Original

Western Animation
  • The intro to the Popeye theme contains these notes.
  • Used in Pontoffel Pock, Where Are You? as the musical password to Pock's piano.
  • In the first Shrek movie, Robin Hood's song starts off like this, as does the "Welcome to Duloc" information booth.
  • "Prince Ali" from Aladdin features this in the last line of the introductory verse: "Are you gonna love this guy!"
  • The opening credits of Monsters, Inc. begin with a slight variation.


Walking In RhythmScore and Music TropesMocking Music
A Minor KidroductionBeginning TropesMorning Routine
Miniscule RockingMusic TropesMisattributed Song

alternative title(s): Cockney Intro
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