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Minsky Pickup

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Dada, da-da da DA!

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" (possibly due to the similarities between vaudeville and British Pantomime and the inevitable bleedover of routines and musical numbers).

For those who probably don't understand this cryptic music crap we're babbling on about, the Minsky Pickup is what people hear in ther heads when they think of "old-timey song from the age of steam, silent films, and top hats."

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.


    open/close all folders 

  • Back in the The '70s, 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.

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Dr. Slump, the opening theme "Wai Wai World" has a variation on the Minsky pickup at the beginning of the song. This time, there's three note of the same pitch, then up three half-steps, down a half and down a full.

  • 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!"

    Film — Animation 
  • 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!"
    • "One Jump Ahead" also uses this twice: "You're my only friend Abu" and "Otherwise we'd get along".
  • The opening credits of Monsters, Inc. begin with a slight variation.
  • "I've Got No Strings" from Pinocchio also has a slight variation that plays before Pinocchio starts singing.
  • The bear dance in Fun and Fancy Free has a similar variant.

    Film — Live-Action 

    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 preceded by Norton "Warming Up" which consists of the notes of "Way Down Upon the Swanee River" followed by "dadum, dadum dum dum!"
    • (FWIW that particular episode used to have 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, which Jackie himself wrote.
  • 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.
  • From the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "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.
  • Something resembling it can be heard in "Uki Uki Watching", the theme song to the Japanese variety show "Waratte Iitomo" ("It's Okay to Laugh").
  • A variant of the pickup was in the theme song of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In.
    • Also often used as a stinger in-between skits.

  • It's within the intro of Doctor Steel's song, "The Dr. Steel Show."
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic uses it in at least three of his polka medleys—"The Alternative Polka"note , "Polka Your Eyes Out"note , and "Polkrama!"note 
  • At the beginning of Buzz Clifford's "Baby Sittin' Boogie" the baby sings the short form of the pickup, though the gurgles that precede it kinda sound like the first part of the long form.
  • 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 comes 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.
  • Vulfpeck features the long Minsky Pickup at the start of their tune, “Lonely Town”.
  • Ween features it in "Hey There Fancypants," appropriately for a vaudeville-esque song.
  • 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.
  • The long form of the pickup 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.
  • When the Moog Cookbook cover of "Are You Gonna Go My Way?" gets silly near the end, there is a partial example.
  • Mister Piano Man, written by The Sherman Brothers and performed by Annette Funnicello in The Golden Horseshoe Revue, opens with a variant of the four-bar version.

    Puppet Shows 


  • 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."
  • The extremely Cockney 1937 musical Me and My Girl (filmed in 1939 as The Lambeth Walk), uses it at the end of each verse of "The Lambeth Walk", as "Doin' the Lambeth Walk, oi!"

    Video Games 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Cockney Intro


Hidden Cockney Motifs

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