Name it in two

On this the day that Led Zeppelin’s first single, the quite brilliant ‘Whole Lotta Love’, jumped from number 45 to 28 on its way towards peaking at number four on the US Hot 100 singles chart (the third of fifteen weeks spent on the chart… God, I love fiddling about with the Billboard Visualizer, even if seeing the month listed before the day confuses me so), with its instantly recognisable distorted guitar riff and intro*, it got me thinking of the cult Seventies game show (it was such two decades earlier in the States, actually premiering on NBC Radio in 1952, and since imitated all around the world), Name That Tune.

The show pitted two eager contestants against one another and invited them to name songs, played by the studio band, as quickly as they could, having heard the fewest number of opening notes. The round that most people remember with fondness, if not some disbelief, was named Bid-a-Note. The host gave a clue as to a song’s title and the contestants valiantly, brazenly, sometimes foolishly, bid for a chance to identify the song should the band play the chosen number of notes from its introduction. “I’ll name it in four,” announces one. “I’ll name it in three,” threatens the other. And so on until one is challenged to “Name that tune.”

This feat is often really easy, though. In the case of a ‘Yellow Submarine’, a ‘Pink Panther Theme’ or a ‘Moon River’, I dare say that many of us could effortlessly name it in just two or three. ‘God Save the Queen’. ‘Light My Fire’. ‘Wooden Heart’. ‘Unchained Melody’. All are easily recognisable. Recall, if you can bear to, those that cheer first and loudest at concerts before the majority have even registered that the next song has begun (I’m thinking of ‘Comfortably Numb’).

Can you think of any song that you’d be able to name in one, including the many from David’s solo catalogue and with Pink Floyd? No, please don’t say ‘Echoes’, I already thought of that one. And what of those you could be excused for mistaking it for? I leave this part for those of you who know all the notes – by name – and may even be able to clearly represent them on that funny lined paper with well-placed squiggles, scribbles and flicks. I’m in awe of you, I really am. That said, I like to think I could anticipate the coming of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ after its first note, and could quite possibly have a scarf or accepted equivalent held aloft before its third.

Which songs, liked or loathed, can you recognise after, let’s say we start the bidding at, four notes? If you think you can do better than someone else here, for goodness sake don’t be modest about it. Let us know how many you think you would need to correctly name that tune.

For nostalgia’s sake as well as your amusement, I hope, here is a clip from Name That Tune, NBC and the late-Fifties. Admittedly quite painful viewing in parts, do stick with it if only to hear the children singing with ten minutes remaining, because if you have unwelcome cats in your garden at this moment in time, with the right amount of volume, the little girl should be able to help with their hasty dispersal.

The chatroom will be open tomorrow from 3pm (UK), if you’ve nothing better to do for an hour or so. Hope to see you there.

* Name that year for a bonus point.

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

50 thoughts on “Name it in two”

  1. 1969. For my bonus point.

    There’s so many Floyd tracks that are instantly recognisable even before the 1st note, due to their penchant for myriad sound effects. I’d like to think that I could name at least 50% in 1 and the vast majority within 4.

    Would have liked to join the chat this afternoon but I will be in London on my works team’s annual Christmas soiree. So rather than chatting about Name That Tune, I’ll try and locate one of the Pink Floyd Treasure Hunt album covers instead.

  2. The one that immediately popped into mind was “Smoke On The Water”. This perhaps may be because Deep Purple are coming to my town soon. So it is on my radar at this time.

    Now having said purple, “Purple Haze” by everybody knows who, is one that I could easily name by hearing the first few notes.

    And I think anybody would agree that hearing first few notes of Sinatra’s New York, New York are fairly obvious of what is to follow.

  3. Four notes? Well I could probably name quite a few. One or two notes might be more of a challenge. To be fair, I cannot pinpoint any in particular because I have a head full of different songs that the only way I could identify them is if I hear them.

    But one song I can instantly identify in one note is The Beatles ‘I Feel Fine’.

    Perhaps it would be more challenging if one were to try and identify a song by four notes midway during the song. Does that make sense?

    1. Perhaps it would be more challenging if one were to try and identify a song by four notes midway during the song.

      An easy one would be ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’, don’t you think? 🙂

  4. Good God, FEd. Now my head is absolutely full of Beatles tunes. Namely my favourites from ‘A Hard Day’s Night’.

    I have always wondered if there is a mental condition when one’s mind is repeatedly singing a song over and over again, so much that one cannot sleep.

    I get this a lot. Some say it is a musician’s curse.

    Do you ever suffer from this? You know, when you just cannot get a song out of your head. I know there is such a thing as voices in one’s head, but what about music in one’s head, constantly, almost permanently?

    I am now hearing ‘If I Fell’ over and over and over. Beautiful harmonies. *sigh* The Beatles are timeless.

    1. They are and I’m going to have ‘I Feel Fine’ playing somewhere inside my skull all day. I can think of worse songs, though.

      I find that if you listen to the song that’s on your mind, it no longer troubles you.

    2. Thank you for letting me know that others hear music in their head over and over to the point of distraction. For years, I’d wondered if it were just me. Every time I hear Queen’s “Bicycle Races,” it gets stuck in my head for WEEKS!

      Music of one variety or another is constantly playing in my head. I don’t need an iPod, because a free one was built into my skull at birth.

    3. I thought I was picking up radio through my fillings. :))

      Recently I keep hearing the “woo hoo” bits from Slow Train by Joe Bonamassa.


  5. On a quiz evening earlier in the year we played Beat the Intro and each team had a different sounding buzzer like University Challenge (ours was a Sheep!)… Have to admit we won but I got Comfortably Numb before anyone in the room had realised the quizmaster had played anything!

    Best wishes

  6. A lot of that would depend on when a song actually begins, which is not all that easy to determine. Okay, with say Time if the first note was defined as either a real clock tick or Roger’s bass clock ticks or the first guitar crash, any of us would get that one in any case. But there are a lot of slower songs that start with a clink or a low synth pulse or wind blowing that might be harder to discern. And what counts as part of the real melody versus background in SOYCD? Is it the wine glasses or the keyboard?

    Maybe it’s because I was so young when the show was on, but I don’t remember the songs they played at the time being so complex that you had to think about that.

    1. Good point, also raised in the chatroom yesterday (by Tim).

      As John put me the mood for some Sinatra yesterday, and I haven’t yet snapped out of it, I got to thinking about those songs where the first thing you hear is the sound of a drum (‘Fly Me To the Moon’, ‘Almost Like Being In Love’) and then those with lengthier drum intros (‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’, ‘Lust for Life’, ‘Song 2’, ‘Superstition’, ‘Song For the Dead’, ‘My Sharona’, ‘Billie Jean’, ‘When the Levee Breaks’, ‘Sympathy For the Devil’, ’50 Ways To Leave Your Lover’…).

      A blog for another day, perhaps. Unless it’s already been done?

  7. It was really so funny watching the Cowboy and the English Girl racing to get the bell. I wonder if they ended up getting married. Plus those kids were really funny and that little girl’s voice would scare my animals away.

    Thanks FEd.

  8. Quite a few come to mind, how about:

    1) I Heard it Through the Grapevine

    2) House of the Rising Sun

    3) Stairway to Heaven

    4) Time: Floyd of course! 🙂

    5) Auld Lang Syne

    So much to choose from Fed. Silent Night!!!

    Merry Xmas All.

  9. “Beethoven’s 5th” opens with the most recognizable four notes in history. The real trick is to identify the symphony based on the first THREE notes!

    I have heard “Hard Day’s Night” on the radio and identified it from just the first jangly chord. For me, David’s “The Blue” is just as identifiable from its opening chord, for that chord is nearly the basis of the entire song. And the one time I saw Roger in concert (in 1987), the audience went wild as he played the opening chord from “Welcome to the Machine.” It was a tease, as he only actually played the song later in the set. But that audience definitely recognized the song by the one chord.

    Could I identify Yes’ “Roundabout” from its opening note? Maybe not. It’s the same note (on apparently the same guitar) that opens their “And You And I.” And the eponymous Black Sabbath song “Black Sabbath” is instantly identifiable from its distorted opening chord.

    Lou Reed’s “Walk On the Wild Wide” has a discordant opening chord, with its uniquely distorted double-bass line. I could identify it very quickly, more on that sound than by the notes themselves.

  10. Regarding the 1969 bonus point. . .

    We should not forget that the biggest selling single of 1969 was a song by The Rolling Stones and (I’m certain I’ll get it in one and leap across the room to the radio to turn up the volume) I expect everyone will know it from it’s first distinctive cowbell beat.

    The second biggest selling was Get Back by the Beatles, I think I’d recognise that in four or less notes.

    Another percussion start that a lot of us may know straight away would be Peaches En Regalia by Frank Zappa, also released in 1969.

    Also from 1969, by Humble Pie, a great guitar start which if you don’t recognise straight away, you get it at a note bending (I think it’s note bending, is it a tremelo bar? Any guitarists please tell me) very many notes in. That’s another to leap across the room to.

    Fed, you’d be proud of this one of your students today, I recognised a Bob Dylan song, Shelter From The Storm. 🙂


    1. Fed, you’d be proud of this one of your students today, I recognised a Bob Dylan song, Shelter From The Storm. 🙂

      But what we’re all now wondering is: how far in before you recognised it?

    2. I walked in the room and recognised the guitar just after the mouth organ part, which I didn’t hear. I know it’s there though and I checked on YouTube. Dylan has a particular guitar sound . . .

      I thought I did well. 🙁

      ash (still striving)

  11. Your mention of game shows reminded me of David’s appearances on Pop Quiz in the 1980s, which included a round where you had to guess the intro (or was it the lyrics?). Too long ago to remember properly, even though I saw some of this on You Tube quite recently. I think David was on at least two of these shows, with one of them being against Phil Collins .

    On an unrelated topic, here in Ottawa, most of Jim Clair Stadium is currently being demolished. l believe this is the first venue that the post-Waters Pink Floyd played at. This got me to thinking about the number of venues that David and Pink Floyd must have played at over the years that, unfortunately, no longer exist. Several of the venues that I’ve seen Pink Floyd perform at have since been demolished; Maine Road Stadium in Manchester and Docklands Arena in London. I read recently that even the hallowed Earls Court is now earmarked for demolition! I guess I can live in hope that when the Jim Clair Stadium has been re-built, David, or even Pink Floyd, might perform there again. As it’s likely to be quite some time before the stadium is rebuilt, I’m sure he’d be welcomed at this year’s Ottawa Bluesfest or a guest appearance at Roger’s return to Ottawa for The Wall in June…..or maybe both!! Of course, if neither of these appeal, there’s always ‘Capital Hoedown’, Ottawa’s Country and Western Festival… well, David does play a mean (lap steel) guitar!!!!

    1. 😮 Hope you’re thinking a Bron-Yr-Aur-Stomp kind of hoedown rather than a Maurice Bolyer … I’m terrified of visualizing a square dance kind ‘o gig – it might scar me for the rest of my days.

  12. Four notes? The first one that springs to mind is Beethoven’s Symphony #5. But it’s not what we can call a song…

    Probably like many here, I think I could name many Pink Floyd songs in one note, for example High Hopes, Learning To Fly, Money, Time, Comfortably Numb, of course Echoes…

    Also, for me, these songs are recognisable by the first few notes: Satisfaction, Imagine, Smells Like Teen Spirit, Smoke On The Water, Hotel California, We Will Rock You (even though I don’t like Queen); … So many! Sadly, I can’t name any French song. :! (Maybe one: ‘Les Marquises’ de Jacques Brel.)

    I wanted to name some Metallica(/Coca-Cola) songs, but since I read this article, they (at least their manager) have lost all my respect, so, from now on, I will boycott them. 😉

    1. But Michèle, it’s the money and “Nothing Else Matters.” And without money you might as well be “King Nothing.” Money certainly is the “Fuel” and I guess you could say that their manager is a “Master of Puppets.”

      In the end I guess we will see “For Whom The Bell Tolls.”



    2. Ditto on the comment from BluePencils! Maybe Dave Mustaine was right after all so many, many years ago. Sadly, while I too would lose respect, I’m torn for the love of music.

      By the way, I’m getting there — have a previous topic to catch up on and for me, it’s not an easy feat — a lot of research on a deeply troubling and very difficult topic.

      I, on the other hand, love Queen and ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ immediately springs to mind with its recognizable introductory harmony within a second (I don’t know exactly how long that first note is held)!

      We lost John Lennon 31 years ago today (he would’ve been 72) and yesterday (12/7) was the 71st ‘anniversary’ of Pearl Harbor. 🙁

    3. What about La Vie en Rose. L’hymne à l’amour and Non, je ne regrette rien?

      I think Beethoven’s Fifth was definitely considered a popular tune during its time …

    4. But Michèle, it’s the money and “Nothing Else Matters.” And without money you might as well be “King Nothing.” Money certainly is the “Fuel” and I guess you could say that their manager is a “Master of Puppets.”

      “Sad But True”… 😉

  13. ‘Lo all, Fed. There are that many of them, “First note tunes”, I was going to make a list, but I can’t be asked. Does this one qualify? …Mr “G” … Himself with band. Playing a wind thing. Red Sky at Night.

    Thinking about the above mentioned comments,

    A lot of that would depend on when a song actually begins, which is not all that easy to determine.

    I think there is a spiritual element to this type of knowledge. To know a sound by its first seconds of impression, you must (A) know the artists involved, or (B) have been touched by the artists involved in some way or another. Being a non musician, I’m wondering if wind (?) is easier to define.

    Have fun.

  14. 1.) No Way. By: David Gilmour (of course)
    2.) Castellerizon
    3.) Wish You Were Here
    4.) Cry From the Street
    5.) Take a Breath
    6.) Have a Cigar
    7.) Hey You
    8.) Sorrow
    9.) Poles Apart
    10.) Dogs
    11.) Agualung (Jethro Tull)
    12.) War Pigs (Black Sabbath)

    Many, Many More!!!!

  15. Among the many PF songs I could spot at the first second, I’d like to mention “Pigs”. Such an hypnotic start, few elements, that organ riff, that bass, just perfectly combined together, like all of their work.

  16. It may sound untrue but, I recognise most of the songs within a couple of notes. Four are enough, except for bands like Ramones. 😉

    On the other hand there are quite a few songs that need only one or two, but it must either the main solo (Comfortably Numb) or the main riff (Young Lust)…



  17. A few that are immediately recognizable to me.

    Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor instantly before the first measure is completed
    Let’s Get Metaphysical – David Gilmour
    I Talk to the Wind – King Crimson
    Rubberband Man – Yello
    A Thousand Thoughts of You – Nat King Cole
    Alberta – Eric Clapton
    White Room – Cream
    The ever so obvious ‘Free Bird’ – Lynyrd Skynyrd
    Bad Company – Bad Company
    Fairies Wear Boots, Wizard, War Pigs – Black Sabbath
    Cocaine – J.J. Cale
    The Gnome – Pink Floyd
    Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd (the whole album, or at least I’d like to think so)
    Have a Cigar – Pink Floyd
    Wheel in the Sky – Journey
    People are Strange – The Doors
    Nights in White Satin – The Moody Blues
    Piano Man – Billy Joel
    Crazy On You – Heart
    Desperado – Eagles (plus many, many more)
    A Soapbox Opera, Put on your Old Brown Shoes – Supertramp
    Piano Concerto 1in B Flat Minor – Tchaikovsky
    Moonlight Sonata – Beethoven

    I would venture to say (and would like to believe) that most of us could identify our own personal music collection within the first 2 to 4 notes.

  18. Bit late to the party with this one…

    Pink Floyd songs I would get in one note would include:

    See Emily Play
    Candy and a Currant Bun
    Intersteller Overdrive

  19. 8) I got another Bob Dylan song right now, still playing!

    Tangled Up In Blue.

    Well. . . . the truth is. . . I knew within four notes it was Dylan, after a few bars (is that what you call them?) I knew it was something “Blue” and I knew I knew the song. Of course I got the rest of the title at a chorus.

    I’d like at least a plain (as opposed to sparkly) star for good effort Fed, but I know I must try harder. 🙁


    Merry Christmas. 😀

  20. One Of These Days should be pretty easy to recognize, granted if I don’t hear a sound for 25 seconds or so I would guess that song anyways. 😛

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