For the past week I’ve been enjoying a trawl through the albums of Rush in chronological order. A Passage To Bangkok from 2112 makes use of that little rinky dink motif that signifies something oriental. It also appears – more or less – in Carl Douglas’s factually incorrect Kung Foo Fighting (I asked my grandmother, and she denied ever having engaged in Kung Foo, let alone fighting), the Vapours’ Turning Japanese and Bowie’s China Girl. It also appears in the Aristocats movie, during the famous Siamese Cats’ number.
Various musicologists have tried to establish where this motif originated. One traced a version back to an 1847 musical show called The Grand Chinese Spectacle of Aladdin, or The Wonderful Lamp. It appears to be a westerner’s version of how they think Chinese/oriental music might sound rather than being authentic in any respect whatsoever.
Are there any other versions of this slightly dubious riff in pop?