Shave and a Haircut

"Shave and a Haircut" and the associated response "two bits" is a 7-note musical call and response couplet, riff or fanfare popularly used at the end of a musical performance, usually for comic effect. It is used both melodically and rhythmically, for example as a door knock.

"Two bits" is an archaism in the United States for 25 cents; a quarter. "Six bits" is occasionally used. The final words may also be "get lost", "drop dead" (in Australia), or some other facetious expression. In England, it was often said as "five bob" (slang for five shillings), although words are now rarely used to accompany the rhythm or the tune.

Shave and a Haircut in C
"Shave and a Haircut" in C major. Play 
These notes are: C-G-G-A-G B-C.
In a variation on this tune, the second and third notes are replaced with a triplet with the middle a semitone lower, and the fourth note is flatted.
Shave and a Haircut in G
"Shave and a Haircut" in G major and then with chords.[1] Play  or play with chords .


An early occurrence of the tune is from an 1899 Charles Hale song, "At a Darktown Cakewalk".[2] Other songs from the same period also used the tune. The same notes form the bridge in the "Hot Scotch Rag", written by H. A. Fischler in 1911.

An early recording used the 7-note tune at both the beginning and the ending of a humorous 1915 song, by Billy Murray and the American Quartet, called "On the 5:15".

In his 1933 novel, Hizzoner the Mayor, Joel Sayre wrote of boats "tooting the official Malta welcome blast to the tempo of 'Shave-and-a-haircut-two-bits, shave- and-a-haircut-two-bits, shave-and-a-haircut-two-bits', which was soon taken up by every craft in the harbor that had a boiler",[3] indicating that the tune was already associated by that time with the lyric.

In 1939, Dan Shapiro, Lestor Lee and Milton Berle released "Shave and a Haircut – Shampoo",[4] which used the tune in the closing bars.


The tune can be heard on customized car horns,[5][6] while the rhythm may be tapped as a door knock[7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14] or as a Morse code "dah-di-di-dah-di, di-dit" ( –··–·   ·· )[15] at the end of an amateur radio contact.

The former prisoner of war and U.S. Navy seaman Doug Hegdahl reports fellow U.S. captives in the Vietnam War would authenticate a new prisoner's U.S. identity by "Shave and a Haircut" as a shibboleth, tapping the first five notes of against a cell wall and waiting for the appropriate response. U.S. POWs were then able to communicate securely with one another via the quadratic alphabet code.[16]

The tune has been used innumerable times as a coda or ending in musical pieces. It is strongly associated with the stringed instruments of bluegrass music, particularly the 5-string banjo. Earl Scruggs often ended a song with this phrase or a variation of it. On the television show The Beverly Hillbillies, musical cues signifying the coming of a commercial break (cues which were in bluegrass style) frequently ended with "Shave and a Haircut". It is the most popular bluegrass run, after the G run.[1]

"Shave and a Haircut" was used in many early cartoons, particularly Looney Tunes cartoons, played on things varying from car horns to window shutters banging in the wind. It was also used as an ending to many cartoon shows, just after the credits. Decades later, the couplet became a plot device to lure-out an intended victim, as used by the chief antagonist Judge Doom in the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the idea being that Toons cannot resist finishing with the "two bits" when they hear the opening rhythm.[17]

The phrase has been incorporated into countless recordings and performances. Notable examples include:

Every interview by Nardwuar the Human Serviette ends with the melody of the song, with Nardwuar singing "doot doot da loot doo", after which the interviewee is expected to reply with "doot doo".

Uses in other countries

In Mexico, the melody is highly offensive, as it is commonly used to stand in for the rhythmically similar vulgar phrase "chinga tu madre, cabrón" (English: "Fuck your mother, asshole!").[5][7][23][6]

The Italian version is Ammazza la vecchia...col Flit! (English: "Kill the old lady...with Flit!")—Flit being an old brand of DDT insecticide. This is a humorous popular version of a post-World War II commercial Ammazza la mosca... col Flit (English: "Kill the fly with Flit!"). This version is never perceived as offensive, but just as a joke.

In the Canadian province of Quebec, the tune is frequently used among children to induce silence. The lyrics are "Chip chocolat gomme, Peanut!" (English: "Chip chocolate gum, Peanut!").[24]

The tune is used in Catalan with a different lyric: "Nas de barraca. Sant Boi" (English: "Shack nose. Sant Boi"). It is also tapped, as a door knock. The Catalan lyrics may come from Blanes, where it was sung twice with Nas de barraca. Sant Boi. Cinc de carmelos pel noi (English: Shack nose. Sant Boi. Five candies for the boy).[25]

In Spain, it is sung with the lyrics, Una copita... de Ojén (English: "A shot of schnapps").

In Irish barroom music, the tune is sometimes tagged at the end of a song. The performer sings the first part to the lyrics, "How is your aul' one?" (read: "old one," a slang term for mother), to which the audience replies, "Gameball!" (A slang term meaning A-OK).[26]

In Sweden it is well-known as Kvart över elva... halv tolv, which means A quarter past eleven... half past eleven. The twist doesn't work as well in English, as the English time system treats 11:30 as a continuation of eleven instead of as the first half of twelve. Halv tolv thus means half twelve and is the correct Swedish equivalent of half past eleven. In Sweden, the melody was also used in a commercial for the Bronzol brand of candy with the slogan Hälsan för halsen—Bronzol (English: Health for your throat—Bronzol).

In Icelandic the lyrics are Saltkjöt og baunir... túkall (English: "Salt meat and split peas... two krona" (króna is the currency in Iceland)).

In the Netherlands, the phrase is used when someone leaves with the intention to not return. Die zien we nooit meer, te-rug (English: We shall never see them, a-gain). It is used as a way to make fun of someone/something, if it suddenly disappears from the scene.

In Argentina, Carlos Balá, a former children's TV programmes host, used to include a bit in his routine in which he would hum the "shave and a haircut" part of the tune, prompting the children in the audience to answer "Ba-lá" to the rhythm of the two final notes.

See also


  1. ^ a b Traum, Happy (1974). Bluegrass Guitar, p.26. ISBN 0-8256-0153-3.
  2. ^ Much of this article is taken from James Fuld, The Book of World-Famous Music: Classical, Popular, and Folk. 5th ed., revised and enlarged (New York: Dover Publications, 2000), p. 495.
  3. ^ Sayre, Joel (1933). Hizzoner the Mayor: A Novel. New York: John Day Company. pp. 28–29.
  4. ^ "Catchy Tune Central Archived 2010-06-12 at the Wayback Machine", Members.MultiMania.NL.
  5. ^ a b Franz, Carl; Havens, Lorena (2006). The People's Guide to Mexico. Avalon Travel Publishing. p. 319. ISBN 1-56691-711-5.
  6. ^ a b Arellano, Gustavo (2008). Ask a Mexican. Scribner. p. 26. ISBN 1-4165-4003-2.
  7. ^ a b Thompson, Chuck (2009). To Hellholes and Back: Bribes, Lies, and the Art of Extreme Tourism. Holt Paperbacks. p. 220. ISBN 0-8050-8788-5.
  8. ^ Stanton, John (September 20, 1948). "In Mexico City Traffic is Terrific". LIFE. Time, Inc.
  9. ^ Keenan, Joseph John (2004). Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-74322-X.
  10. ^ Axtell, Roger E.; Fornwald, Mike (1998). Gestures: The Do's and Taboos of Body Language Around the World. Wiley. p. 101. ISBN 0-471-18342-3.
  11. ^ Axtell, Roger E. (1998). Do's and Taboos of Humor Around the World. Wiley. ISBN 0-471-25403-7.
  12. ^ Ruiz Fornells, Enrique; Ruiz-Fornells, Cynthia Y. (1979). The United States and the Spanish World. Sociedad General Española de Librería. ISBN 84-7143-192-0.
  13. ^ Wilder, Cora Sarjeant; Sherrier, James (1992). Celebrating Diversity. Ginn Press. ISBN 0-536-58133-9.
  14. ^ Partridge, Eric; Dalzell, Tom; and Victor, Terry (2007). The concise new Partridge dictionary of slang and unconventional English, p.571. ISBN 978-0-415-21259-5.
  15. ^ King, Thomas W. (1999). Modern Morse Code in Rehabilitation and Education. Allyn & Bacon. p. 77. ISBN 0-205-28751-4.
  16. ^ Brace, Ernest C. (May 2, 2008). "Messages From John". Archived from the original on December 1, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-26.
  17. ^
  18. ^ O-Kay for Sound, Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  19. ^ Bartholomew, Dave, "The King Sides" Collectables (CD) 2883, 2004
  20. ^ Cleveland, Barry (Sep 1, 2002). "It Happened This Month". Archived from the original on May 27, 2009. Retrieved 2008-11-26.
  21. ^ "Cantata 'Blaus Gras'". The Peter Schickele/P.D.Q. Bach Web Site. July 3, 2011. Retrieved 2012-12-07.
  22. ^
  23. ^ Gerrard, Arthur Bryson (ed.) (1980). Cassell's Colloquial Spanish, 3rd revised ed. London: Cassell Ltd. p. 60. ISBN 0-304-07943-X.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  24. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  25. ^ Sola i Ramos, Elisa (December 1999). "PROVERBIS, DITES I FRASES FETES DE BLANES" (PDF). Servei de Català de Blanes (CPNL). Retrieved March 2016. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  26. ^ Martin Dardis. "Finnegan's Wake lyrics and chords". Irish Folk Songs. Retrieved 16 February 2019.

External links

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Bo Diddley beat

The Bo Diddley beat is a syncopated musical rhythm that is widely used in rock and roll and pop music. The beat is named after rhythm and blues musician Bo Diddley, who introduced and popularized the beat with his self-titled debut single.

Curb Your Tongue, Knave!

"Curb Your Tongue, Knave!" is the fourth comedy album recorded by the Smothers Brothers, released November 1, 1963 on Mercury Records. The album was recorded live at Mister Kelly's in Chicago, Illinois. It reached number 13 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart. This was the first of their original albums to be released on CD.

Dactylic hexameter

Dactylic hexameter (also known as "heroic hexameter" and "the meter of epic") is a form of meter or rhythmic scheme in poetry. It is traditionally associated with the quantitative meter of classical epic poetry in both Greek and Latin and was consequently considered to be the grand style of Western classical poetry. Some premier examples of its use are Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Virgil's Aeneid, and Ovid's Metamorphoses. Hexameters also form part of elegiac poetry in both languages, alternating with dactylic pentameters.

Everything About You (Ugly Kid Joe song)

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G run

In bluegrass and other music, the G run (G-run), or Flatt run (presumably after Lester Flatt), is a stereotypical ending used as a basis for improvisation on the guitar. It is the most popular run in bluegrass, the second being "Shave and a Haircut".The best known version, above, is a slight elaboration of the simplest form, below.

Gee, Officer Krupke

"Gee, Officer Krupke" is a comedy number from the musical West Side Story.  The song was composed by Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) and Leonard Bernstein (music), and was featured in both the Broadway musical and subsequent 1961 motion picture.


Lakrisal is a Malaco brand of salty liquorice (liquorice and ammonium chloride flavored candy) sold in the Nordic countries and the Netherlands.

Unlike most salty liquorice candies, Lakrisal does not contain any starch or gum arabic (E414). Instead, it is made almost entirely of sugar, liquorice, and ammonium chloride. Because of this, Lakrisal drops are powdery, and have been pressed to stay in one piece like tablets. Persons suffering from hypertension should avoid excessive intake of Lakrisal.

Lakrisal is also unlike most salty liquorice candies by not being black. Instead, it is a very light brownish gray colour. Lakrisal drops are disk-shaped, about 18 mm in diameter and about 4 mm thick. They are sold in tubes of about 20 drops each.

In the 1980s, a new lemon-flavoured variety of Lakrisal was introduced. It proved quite unpopular and was soon discontinued. Another flavour was the "hot" Lakrisal that included chili pepper powder and pepper oil.

Lakrisal is a direct continuation of a similar product Bronzol, launched as a throat tablet, which was advertised under the slogan "Hälsan för halsen - Bronzol!" ("Health for the throat - Bronzol!", sung to the melody of Shave and a Haircut). Liquorice or salmiak in throat tablets is one that existed in different kinds of throat tablets in the Nordic countries since the 1950s. Even pure cough medicines Quiller-syrup uses the same flavors.

Lakrisal is produced by Cloetta (formerly by Leaf Denmark B.V. at Copenhagen, Denmark).

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John Ruskin (born July 5, 1968), better known as Nardwuar the Human Serviette, or simply Nardwuar, is a Canadian interviewer and musician from Vancouver, British Columbia. He is the lead singer and keyboardist for The Evaporators.Nardwuar got his start in media at the University of British Columbia radio station CITR 101.9 FM in Vancouver. His show has been running every Friday afternoon since October 1987. The program features a mix of eclectic music, along with interviews and commentary. Nardwuar's interviews are frequently shown on MuchMusic's Going Coastal, or printed in Chart. Although Nardwuar's favourite targets are music artists, he has stated that he will interview any celebrity. He also sometimes appears as a guest host and interviewer on CBC Radio 3 and started his own weekly program on freeform radio station WFMU which ran from 2009 to 2013.A typical interview will begin with "Who are you?", followed by "From?" if the subject doesn't volunteer their affiliations. Each interview ends with "Keep on rockin' in the free world", and the "doot doota loot doo..." of "Shave and a Haircut", to which the interviewee is expected to reply with the final "doot doo!" before Nardwuar freezes with a wide smile until the camera cuts off. When asked to explain his name, Nardwuar has said it is "a dumb, stupid name like Sting or Sinbad;" and that "Human" came from the song "Human Fly" by The Cramps; and "Serviette" came from the fact that "in the U.S.A. they don't have serviettes, they have napkins".

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Peter and the Commissar

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The title track pokes fun at communism in the Soviet Union, and is a spoof of Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev, with Prokofiev's music, and original spoken rhymed verse by Allan Sherman. Peter creates a new melody (the familiar Peter's theme from the original work) and must have it approved by the commissars of music. In the story the commissars have no musical taste or talent, and modify Peter's theme by changing a few notes here and there, then turn it into a Bossa Nova. Examples are played of other pieces "improved" by the commissars. Beethoven's Fifth Cha-Cha-Cha, Brahms Lullaby Rock-n-Roll, Pete Tchaikovsky's Blues (from Swan Lake), and Verdi's Aida in Dixieland. Peter's melody is rejected by the commissar, being stamped "NOT APPROVED", and the head commissar sentences Peter to a labor camp to think. While he is imprisoned, he stated that while he is confined, that his song is still free. One day, a recording manager hers his melody from outside the prison walls, and has Peter's piece recorded, which results in getting Peter out of prison to lead his own parade, featuring the commissar, stating that they would never have changed a single note of it. Peter's piece becomes a hit all over the world. Peter does triumph over the commissar.

The second track is "Variations on How Dry I Am". In this work the first few notes of "How Dry I Am" are found in numerous well known pieces of popular and classical music, and blended together with each piece ending with the familiar notes, and them being the beginning of the next piece. Other than some introductory spoken comedy by Sherman and a solo hiccup by Fiedler, this track is completely instrumental.

The last track is "The End of a Symphony". In this one Sherman again provides original spoken verse, denigrating the lengthy endings of symphonies, as these endings are attached to simple songs such as "Yankee Doodle" "Old MacDonald Had a Farm", and "Shave and a Haircut".

Play with Me (song)

"Play with Me" is Extreme's first single from their self-titled debut album. It is one of the band's best known songs as well as a popular list song. It includes a fast and complex guitar solo by guitarist Nuno Bettencourt, and takes its intro riffs from Mozart's Alla turca.

The lyrics list a wide variety of children's games, toys, and playground songs, and includes backing vocals from The Lollipop Kids. The bridge consists of K-I-S-S-I-N-G, sung by the band with their voices altered to make them sound like children. It includes the line, "Then comes Adam in a baby carriage," which is immediately followed by a fast guitar lick that ends with "Shave and a Haircut", segueing into the guitar solo.

The song was featured in the movie Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure during the mall-chase scene, as well as in Jury Duty as Pauly Shore's stripping song.

A cover of the song appeared on the PlayStation 2 game Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s as the final track in the game. It is claimed that the high popularity the song gained by its inclusion in Guitar Hero was the reason the band decided to reunite in 2007, as it sparked their popularity once again. A master version of the track appears in the video game Guitar Hero: Smash Hits.

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Two bits

Two bits or two-bit may also refer to:

Two bits, a slang term for the American quarter dollar

Two Bits, a 1995 American dramatic film

"Two-Bit Manchild", a 1968 song written and performed by Neil Diamond

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