That sound from family feud….

What I think would be good fun would be to trace the genealogy of the ‘incorrect answer’ sound from the television game show “Family Feud”… hmmm, I am not sure if I can represent it properly on my blog, but it kind of goes ‘boh-bong’ where the bong is a lower note than the boh.*

It is crazy how the game show has died in Australia but the sound is relatively common. I have found it circulates within popular discourse and receives immediate recognition of its meaning whenever it is deployed in a ‘small-talk’ context (you know, gossiping, ‘yarning’ and so on). It means ‘bad luck for someone, but something is wrong, and the bad luck makes it a rather funny situation in the context of your story telling’ or that is how I have witnessed it used. How many bloody sounds are there that can be deployed in such a manner?!?! I can’t really think of any. Maybe Ali G’s “booka” getting-shot-in-the-back-of-the-head-by-a-ganster-holding-gun-sideways sound? Maybe it is just amongst my mates?

See there is a difference between adding sound effects to action, ala classic Hong-Kong action style post-translation sound effects – like adding ‘fist punching’ sounds to a punching fist, or making lightsaber sounds while sweeping the yard, or even humming the theme song to a fuckin wild 1980s tv show – like the theme from the A-Team or Joey Scarbury’s absolute classic “Believe It or Not (I’m Walking On Air)” from the television series “Greatest American Hero” which I want played at my funeral…

None of the above examples are really in the same ball-park because they do not carry anywhere near the same semantic weight as the ‘boh-bong’. The ‘boh-bong’ is not a word and yet it functions in a word-like way. Is this a machine language that is circulating amongst the humans? Would machines go ‘boh-bong’ to each other after they dropped a set in Pong?

I’ll be buggered if I know.

EDIT: More than seven years later (21/03/12) here is a version of the sound:

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* Because of the extrordinary difficulty in making sounds with words (haha) here are some other versions of ‘boh-bong’ that did not make the cut: buh-bom, bah-bong, bah-bom, and boh-bomg.

11 replies on “That sound from family feud….”

  1. Also see: the use of the term “Survey says!” in everyday conversation.

    If you buy a sound effects CD, the sound is usually on it, if not a variant. And certainly, a version of the monotone “DEEEEEEN”, which is the incorrect tone more in keeping with Mastermind and The Krypton Factor.

    Now, trace the genealogy of the “Double Whammy” sound in Press Your Luck.. you have a thesis.

  2. There was some dude from Murdoch Uni who wanted to give a paper on the sounds of modified cars and the role of these sounds within the culture as part of the panel I organised for the CSAA conference. His thesis topic was some krazy pomo thing about sound. He was running into scholarship difficulties tho…

  3. Jean! I can’t believe you linked to my old and extremely dicky unimelb page! I am, like, soooo embarrassed.

    Glen – I would love to hear what that Murdoch dude had to say. What I found in researching the Mikey J paper was that sound (not music, not lyrics) is a really slippery and awkward site of analysis. It’s something I want to keep researching (I think Luke Stickels from unimelb was planning to set up a CSAA discussion group on the topic), and I’m always keen for new perspectives…

    I am also FASCINATED by the idea of SFX in everyday life (feel paper about ‘everyday beatboxing’ coming on), and I agree with Christian’s point about “Survey says!” Also, the “correct” sound from Family Feud, which was a really fast rising arpeggio, is different from the “ping” noise that usually signifies correctness on gameshows.

    When I present money to cashiers, I sometimes make a cash register noise. Sometimes they get it; other times they look at me strangely.

  4. Fuck yeah, the “che-ching” sound of the old school cash registers!

    SFX of everyday life would be a very, very cool paper. Mike Michaels has done some what might be preliminary stuff to do with car radios, which could be relevant? Dunno. Case study would be the dude from the police academy movies, Jones. That is who I was thinking of when I thought of the ‘punching fist’ sounds. If I remember correctly he has even been Simpsons-itised with Homer attempting a ‘Jones’ (Michael Winslow is his real name I believe).

    Mel, I will email you the Murdoch dude’s email…

  5. Noting that the post about the ‘boh-bong’ sound is over 2 years old now, it definitely holds its value in truth. Although my group of friends spell it as ‘dun-durn’…

    Anyway, I stumbled upon this page looking to download a free sample of it – would anyone know where to get a sample clip of it from?

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