Where does this sound effect (3 notes) come from?

It's used for dramatic effect, so I'm assuming an old and famous drama movie?

  • 4
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is about identifying the origin of a music cue in a viral video.
    – BCdotWEB
    Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 8:28
  • 4
    I Disagree. I think this is an audio trope that is interesting trivia.
    – M.Mat
    Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 9:41
  • Just for the record, trivia is an off-topic category... lol. But either way, this question should in fact be closed due to the content and context. The content is a doge meme clip, which has nothing to do with movies or TV, and, nothing at all suggests that that sound clip / theme came from a film. For all we know it could be from 17th century European musicals and has just been used in multiple forms of media over the centuries.
    – Charles
    Commented Apr 1, 2022 at 15:36
  • VTC due to trivia / opinion-based, either or.
    – Charles
    Commented Apr 1, 2022 at 15:38

2 Answers 2


Replying to a necrothread here... there is a recent Guardian article on the topic.

The earliest remaining recording is from 1942, the first episode of CBS's "Suspense" radio drama (around the 3 minute mark). It is believed it pre-dates that by some time, but no remaining recording or film is known to contain it.

It is sometimes attributed to The Rite of Spring from 1913.

Note there are two basic variations on the theme, which can be heard in the two videos posted earlier, but they are considered to be the same effect.


This sting became famous again in June 2007 with this viral video:

A sting is a short musical phrase, primarily used in television shows and films as a form of punctuation—for example at the end of a scene, or as a dramatic climax is imminent. It can be played on a variety of instruments and performed by a group or orchestral ensemble.

The origins of the Sting are deeply rooted in classical music - namely Wagner - but when applied to drama they were first heard on Radio Shows.

The sting was used extensively in radio drama during the thirties as an audio cue indicating surprise or shock. It is difficult to find any sources on these claims but I personally find it plausible that this sting was composed during the French Vaudeville era (1880-1930) and every indication I can find suggests it is about as ambiguous (and public domain) as the drum-roll and that the exact origin is lost to history.

Which exact movie was the first to use it appears to be an impossible fact to determine, but it was undoubtedly used in cinematography during the forties and early fifties and certainly in many classic cartoons such as Tom & Jerry.

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