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Welcome to The Traditional Tune Archive
The Semantic Index of North American, British and Irish
traditional instrumental music with annotation, formerly known as
The Fiddler's Companion.

Featured tune:           MAD MOLL (aka The Peacock Followed The Hen)

Troopers of the 1st Dragoon Guards, 7th Hussars, and Royal Horse Guards, circa 1812.

FLOP-EARED MULE [1]. AKA and see "Karo," "Asheville" (western N.C. title), "Big Eared Mule (1)," "Long-Eared Mule" (Don Messer's {Canada} title), "Lop-Eared Mule" (Pennsylvania), "Bluebell Polka (The)," "College Schottische," "D & A Schottische," "Detroit Schottishe," "Ranger's Hornpipe (2)," "Monkey in the Barbershop," "Hell Over the Mountain," "Peach Tree Limb," "Comin' Over the Mountain," "Hell Amongst the Slavish," "D-A Quadrille" (N.Y.), "Wild Geese (2).". Old-Time, Bluegrass, Canadian, American; Schottische, Polka, Quadrille, Breakdown. USA, Widely known. G Major ('A' part) & D Major ('B' part) [G Major in Galax, Va., tradition]. Standard or ADae tunings (fiddle). AB (Silberberg): AAB. Mark Wilson (1978) believes the tune is a polka of probable Central-European origin, while Ford (1940) says the tune is derived from the "College Schottische," which it closely resembles. Others point to origins in "Detroit Schottische." Actually, melodies from several traditions sound similar, as, for example, a Ukranian-American 78 RPM record from 1930 (Victor V-21034) called "Dowbush Kozak," the Scandinavian "Visslarepolska fran Ydre Harad" ("Whistler's Polska from Ydre County"), and the Irish tunes "Curlew Hills (The)" and "Little Pet Polka," as well as the English "Bluebell Polka (The)." Lovett (Good Morning...Ford, 1943, p. 100) gives it as "Military Schottische/Barn Dance." Bronner (1987) states that northern United States fiddlers often mentioned to him that the piece was an old-time tune for a schottische dance, also called "Barn Dance (The)," popular in New York state before World War II, though apparently that form of the tune was popular elsewhere in the country at the time (for example, Arizona fiddler Kenner C. Kartchner mentioned he played the melody in the early 1900's as a schottishe). Paul Gifford remarks that it seems reasonable to assume that Flop-eared Mule was derived from the "Detroit Schottische," a three-part melody written and published in 1854 by Adam Couse, a dancing master who owned a music store in Detroit. Other sources remark on the piece's popularity as a vehicle for the quadrille before the turn of the century. Bayard (1981 & 1944) believes "Flop-Eared Mule" to be a fairly modern tune, perhaps from the early 19th century, extremely popular in the South, and speculated that the tune spread north from there. It was recorded for the Library of Congress by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph in the early 1940's from Ozark Mountain fiddlers. Marion Thede, collecting in roughly the same area, gives "Monkey in the Barbershop" as an alternate title. R.P. Christeson gave untitled versions of the tune in his both volumes of Old Time Fiddler's Repertory (as a "Breakdown" in vol. 2, p. 74, and a "Schottische" in vol. 1, p. 159). An early recording of "Flop Eared Mule" by the St. Louis area quadrille band Judge Sturdy Orchestra, featuring fiddler Judge John O. Sturdy, was recorded on a 78 RPM in the mid-1920's-under the title "Old Dan Tucker" (the Judge was calling the figures for Old Dan Tucker on the recording). The tune was in the repertories of Buffalo Valley, Pa., dance fiddler Harry Daddario, and of Black fiddler Cuje Bertram {Ky.} (as "Big-Eared Mule").

The melody was often recorded in the 78 RPM era. Gus Meade (Country Music Sources, 2002) lists some 40 recordings, the earliest being by Kentucky-born William B. Houchens (1884-c.1955), followed by Uncle Jimmy Thompson (1926), Ernest Stoneman (1927), Fiddlin' John Powers (1927), Doc Roberts (1928), the Kessinger Brothers (1929), and the Skillet Lickers (1930). Arkansas "Arkie" Woodchopper recorded it in 1940. North Georgia fiddler Lowe Stokes played a tune called "Fatback" that uses the first strain of "Flop-Eared Mule (1)."


FLOP EARED MULE full Score(s) and Annotations and Past Featured Tunes



%%scale 0.7 X: 1 T:Flop-Eared Mule R:Reel M:2/4 L:1/16 Z:Bruce Osborne K:D A2|^e2f2 c2d2|ABAF D2F2|EDEF GECE|DEFG A4| ^e2f2 c2d2|ABAF D2F2|EDEF GABc|d2f2 d2:|

Why TTA Who builds the Archive

Although we are not trained musicologists and make no pretense to the profession, we have tried to apply such professional rigors to this Semantic Abc Web as we have internalized through our own formal and informal education.


This demands the gathering of as much information as possible about folk pieces to attempt to trace tune families, determine origins, influences and patterns of aural/oral transmittal, and to study individual and regional styles of performance.
Many musicians, like ourselves, are simply curious about titles, origins, sources and anecdotes regarding the music they play. Who, for example, can resist the urge to know where the title Blowzabella came from or what it means, or speculating on the motivations for naming a perfectly respectable tune Bloody Oul' Hag, is it Tay Ye Want?
Knowing the history of the melody we play, or at least to have a sense of its historical and social context, makes the tune 'present' in the here and now, and enhances our rendering of it.

Andrew Kuntz & Valerio Pelliccioni


Please register as a user to make the most of the many functions of the TTA, and enjoy the many ways that information about traditional tunes can be elicited and combined, from simple to complex situations. Users may make contributions, which, when reviewed by an editor, become part of this community project. Serious user/contributors may become editors through the TTA's autopromotion process, in which quantity and quality of entries allows increased levels of permission to edit and review the entire index.
Above all, the developers wish you joy in the use of the TTA.


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Help Getting started

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Navigation: Registered users can navigate the Traditional Tune Archive for information in a number of ways.

  • Search. The Search function is located at the bottom of the SideBar on the left, and can be used to search the entire index for any key word.
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  • Query the Archive. The “Query the Archive” function under “The Index” in the sidebar can be used to draw down reports from the TTA in either in single items or in a number of combinations. One might, for example, use a single item query to run a report in the TTA for a particular composer/core source. Clicking on the arrow at the right of the bar draws down a list of composer/core sources, or one may be typed in. For example, clicking on “Bill Pigg” and then the “Run Query” tab at the bottom left will result in a list of all compositions listed in the TTA that the Northumbrian piper either composed or is the core source for. Reports may also be run in combinations, as, for example, by selecting “William Marshall” as a composer/core source, “Three Flats” for the number of accidentals, and “Major” for the Key/Mode. This will result in a report of all Eb Major compositions of Scottish fiddler/composer William Marshall that are indexed in the TTA.
  • Drill Down. Cumulative information about TTA entries can be found in the “Drill Down” under “The Index” in the SideBar on the left.
  • Tune Books/Magazines in the TTA can be accessed under “Issues” in the left side bar. These are reproductions of publications for which access has been granted to the TTA by the copyright holder, under the Creative Commons license.