The Surprising Origins of the Door-Knocking Song

By Michael Vincent on October 21, 2022

Anyone who has ever stood in front of a door has probably performed the door-knocking song at least once in their lives. The strange thing about it is we all seem to know how it goes – like it was somehow part of our collective musical DNA.

You know the one:

dut, dut-dut dut, dut… dut, dut.

The tune originated from a song written in 1899 by Charles Hale called “At a Darktown Cakewalk”.

Did you catch the rhythm? It came to be called, “Shave and a haircut, two bits,” and was most often used at the end of a piece of music for comic effect.

Over the past hundred years, it has become one of the most recognizable rhythms in North America. It’s been used on car horns, Morse code “dah-di-di-dah-di, di-dit” ( –··–·   ··) and even at the end of communications by ham radio operators to sign out.

We leave you with one of our favourite knock-knock song inspirations…

….Leonard Bernstein’s “Gee, Officer Krupke” from the West Side Story [see video below starting at 4’11”])

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