Annotation:Tune the Old Cow Died Of (The)

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X:1 T:Tune the Old Cow Died of, The M:4/4 L:1/8 R:Air and dance tune B:Bayard - Dance to the Fiddle, March to the Fife (1981, No. 95) S:S. Hall (southwest Pa., 1930's) K:D (3ABc|d2 f>e d2 {e}f>e|d2 (3dcB A2 AB/c/|d2f2d2f2|a6 f2|g2b2 e3e| f2 af d3d|e2d2c2B2|A6 AB/c/|d2 {e}f>e d2f2{e}|d2 {c}(3BcB A2 AB/c/|d2f2d2f2| a6f2|g2b2e3e|f>f a>f|d2d2|e2g2f2e2|d6 (3ABc|d>dd>d d2f2|ddcB A2 AB/c/| d2d2 d>ef>g|a6f2|g>ab>g e2 g>e|f>ga>f d2 A^G/A/|e2g2f2e2|d6||

TUNE THE OLD COW DIED OF, THE. AKA and see "Nutting Girl (The)." American, Air and Dance Tune (4/4 time). USA; northern W.Va., southwestern Pa. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. Bayard (1981) states that a comic song to this tune was popular in the southern Pa./northern W.Va. region about a cow so entranced by a farmer's song that she danced herself to death. The title became for a time a phrase characterizing any extremely bad piece of music.

The tune for the original comic song was written by Joseph Eastburn Winner (composer of "Little Brown Jug"), with words by George Russell Jackson, and published in 1880 by John F. Perry & Co., Boston. The original title was "The Tune that the Old Cow Died On." The sheet music can be seen at

Old farmer John from his work came home one summer afternoon,
And sat him down 'neath a maple tree, and he sung himself a tune;
He sang till the cows came running up, and round him formed a ring,
For they never heard good Farmer John attempt before to sing.

And this is the tune:
Ri fol dol da do,
Sung in the maple grove,
Ri fol dol da dol ri fol dol da,
'Tis the tune the old cow died on.

The oldest cow in the farmer's herd tried hard to join the song,
But she could not strike the melody, tho' her voice was loud and strong;
The farmer laughed till the tears ran down his cheeks like apple red,
But the cow was mad, and she tried to sing until she dropped down dead.

Additional notes
Source for notated version : - S. Hall (fiddler from Pa., 1930's) [Bayard].

Printed sources : - Bayard (Dance to the Fiddle), 1981; No. 95, pp. 56-57.

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