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Music to Tickle a Savage Breast

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"Tickle it," by Dave Oppenheim and Joe Cooper. New York: Shapiro Music Pub. Co., 1912.

“Music has charms to soothe a savage breast.” That famous line was uttered by a character in William Congreve’s 1697 play The Mourning Bride. From the dance of the ancient Greeks, to the propulsive bass on the disco floor, to Dancing with the Stars, music goes hand in hand with the body. One of the more tender and perhaps risque examples of  the physical effects of music is today’s featured title, Dave Oppenheim and Joe Cooper’s “Tickle it!” Visit Historic Sheet Music, 1800-1922 in the Performing Arts Encyclopedia for more vintage sheet music to tickle your fancy.

Comments (4)

  1. Perhaps I’m incorrect, but I believe the saying is “Music has charms to soothe a savage BEAST” (not breast). It just seems to be extra dirty when the phrase is combined with the image of a woman saying, “Tickle it! Tickle it!”

  2. The saying is often misquoted as “savage beast,” but the line in Congreve’s play is indeed that music soothes “a savage breast.”

  3. Chris really thought he knew better of what is such a famous malapropism it’s referenced in gilmore girls. lol

  4. In the 1959 movie, the character Jessie asks the town members if the super human they’ve sent for will “tame the savage breast…” Instead of beast — which would have made more sense.

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