There is a three note idiom that has appeared in SEVERAL theatrical releases (comedies) recently that indicates danger. I do not know the notes, but it goes "dum dum DUM", and the viewer knows instantly that the scene (or character) is dangerous. There are even sound effect videos of this idiom on YouTube, but they are very short on its etymology. Again, was this composed? Does somebody own rights to this idiom? If not, how did it enter popular culture?

A sample, accompanied by rich viewer commentary, is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW7Op86ox9g

  • 1
    I think it came it by way of Perry Mason. I'll do more research but it's a show like that. Maybe Peter Gunn...
    – Ben Plont
    Feb 27 '14 at 5:42
  • If there are YouTube videos of this, can you maybe add a link to one of those for clarity?
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Feb 27 '14 at 10:13
  • @NapoleonWilson, edited with link
    – Gjv
    Feb 27 '14 at 10:46
  • It comes from the WW2 propaganda news videos (all news - whenever there was danger afoot)
    – d'alar'cop
    Mar 14 '14 at 8:22
  • It's actually called: "Shock Horror" youtube.com/watch?v=OhgFDo7XPu0
    – d'alar'cop
    Mar 14 '14 at 8:40

It's actually called: "Shock Horror".

It has been credited to Dick Walter: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0910011

I stated in a comment that it had been used during wartime (BBC/ABC/NBC) as a danger signal, much as the first couple of bars of Beethoven 5th "(morse code) V for victory" music however this was mistaken.

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