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The Wild and Terrible Cry of His People: The Evolution of Tarzan's Yell
January 20, 2014 2:40 PM   Subscribe

As the body rolled to the ground Tarzan of the Apes placed his foot upon the neck of his lifelong enemy and, raising his eyes to the full moon, threw back his fierce young head and voiced the wild and terrible cry of his people. ― Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes
ERBzine, "the official Edgar Rice Burroughs Tribute Site," brings us The Evolution of the Tarzan "Yell."
From the List of Sound Trademarks (Sensory Marks), United States Registrations
Serial No: 75326989 ~ Registration No: 2210506
Current Status: Registered Applicant/Owner: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.

Description:
The mark is a yell consisting of a series of approximately ten sounds, alternating between the chest and falsetto registers of the voice, as follow - 1) a semi-long sound in the chest register, 2) a short sound up an interval of one octave plus a fifth from the preceding sound, 3) a short sound down a Major 3rd from the preceding sound, 4) a short sound up a Major 3rd from the preceding sound, 5) a long sound down one octave plus a Major 3rd from the preceding sound, 6) a short sound up one octave from the preceding sound, 7) a short sound up a Major 3rd from the preceding sound, 8) a short sound down a Major 3rd from the preceding sound, 9) a short sound up a Major 3rd from the preceding sound, 10) a long sound down an octave plus a fifth from the preceding sound.
Describing it turns out to be the easy part: The origin of Tarzan's call is surprisingly complicated. The first yell was, in fact, silent. There were a few other Tarzans, sure, but it was Johnny Weissmuller who made the part, and the sound, famous. Or did he? Was it, in fact, his yodel? Or was it cribbed from a voice double? Was Weismsmuller's voice supplemented with a hyena howl, a soprano's note, a dog's growl, and a raspy violin? Read more about the thrilling adventures of this Hollywood jungle trivia!

Of course, no post on this subject is complete without the wild and terrible cry of... "Tarzan Boy." Don't say I don't love you.
posted by MonkeyToes (13 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Of course, no post on this subject is complete without the wild and terrible cry of... "Tarzan Boy." Carol Burnett.

FTFY
posted by benito.strauss at 2:51 PM on January 20 [6 favorites]


I CAME HERE TO POST CAROL BURNETT DAMN IT BENITO
posted by magstheaxe at 3:00 PM on January 20 [5 favorites]


One of the articles mentions that the yell is the same forward as backward. This is true. I think this casts doubt on any claim that it wasn't first generated in the studio (though the sound sources probably cannot be verified for certain).
posted by idiopath at 3:11 PM on January 20


Of course, no post on this subject is complete without the wild and terrible cry of... "Tarzan Boy." Carol Burnett Chewbacca.

FTFBOY
posted by jquinby at 3:14 PM on January 20


Carol Burnett's story is hilarious. Thanks, benito.strauss!
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:46 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Carol Burnett came into NPR last year to promote something-or-other. I was in the middle of producing another interview when she came in, but I hovered around the tech center for a few minutes after I'd finished, secretly hoping. Sure enough, from down the hall came a muffled but unmistakable cry that somehow managed to bleed through the studio walls. Even at 80 years of age, Carol Burnett can still crack NPR's soundproofing with that yell.
posted by mykescipark at 3:56 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: I came here to post Carol Burnett, damn it!
posted by benito.strauss at 5:57 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Jane made it too (0:16)
posted by brujita at 9:08 PM on January 20


NOTE: AUTOPLAYING AUDIO. Because you wouldn't ever want to read about such a thing without also viscerally experiencing wherever you are too. (grumble grumble)
posted by JHarris at 10:51 AM on January 21


(grumble grumble)

Oooh, sorry about that; I must be running something that prevents autoplay. I hope your colleagues aren't making Tarzan jokes at your expense. Mea culpa.
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:13 PM on January 21


I was running iOS Safari when it happened, which was weird, I mean, if anything's going to prevent autoplaying audio you'd think it'd be a mobile platform without Flash.
posted by JHarris at 12:21 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Carol Burnett is 80?
posted by mogget at 5:24 PM on January 21


It always sounded a bit like the rebel yell to me personally. Though now that I compare them side by side I'm a bit off.

(Link for those interested)
posted by Carillon at 7:13 AM on January 22


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