Seems everybody knows this clause by ear, even its rhythm is very suggestive.

I wrote down a version in C Major, it look like this:

notated version of musical phase

The Lilypond source is

\relative g' { \key c \major \time 2/4 c g8 g as4 g r b c }

I tried a web search with the note names and a Google image search with the above image, both resulted in nothing useful. From getting the source of this snippet, I hope to also get the information if this sequence is somehow copyrighted.


1 Answer 1


There's a Wikipedia page on this riff which is called "Shave and a Haircut". One of the earliest uses was in a 1899 song by Charles Hale: "At a Darktown Cakewalk", although it was used in other songs at that time, and has be used very often since then.
Since it was originally used in the 19th Century it's highly unlikely there could be any copyright claim on the phrase.

  • 1
    Great you found it. BTW: how did you do that?
    – Wolf
    Jul 31, 2019 at 12:03
  • 1
    @Wolf There was a link to Wikipedia from an article on Leonard Bernstein's song "Gee Officer Krupke" from "West Side Story" which uses this phrase
    – PiedPiper
    Jul 31, 2019 at 12:07

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