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BLUEBELL POLKA. AKA - "Little Pet Polka" (Ireland), "The Curlew Hills" (Ireland). English, Scottish; Polka. G Major ('A' part), D Major ('B' part) & C Major ('C' part). Standard. AABBCC. Composed by Frank Stanley. According to Philippe Varlet, the melody was known to Irish musicians in the 78 RPM era. It was recorded by the renowned County Sligo/New York fiddler James Morrison for Columbia in 1935, and later, in the 1950's, by Mickey Carton, for the Copley label. The Gallowglass Céilí Band waxed "Blue Bell Polka" for Irish Columbia. The Scottish musician and band leader Jimmy Shand recorded an influential version, one of the best-selling singles of his era, however, a much earlier Scottish version was recorded on a 78 RPM disc by an Edinburgh melodeon player named James Brown in 1911. Brown's name for it was "Little Pet (Caledonian Polka)." The melody sounds quite similar to the American "Flop Eared Mule." The tune is sometimes used for an accompaniment to the Irish dance Siamsa Beirte (which roughly translates as 'play for two'), a kind of two-hand hornpipe sixteen bars in length. The dance apparently is of no particular antiquity. Kennedy (Fiddler's Tune Book), Vol. 2, 1954; pg. 27. Kerr (Merry Melodies), c. 1880's, Vol. 1; No. 14, pg. 51. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; pg. 144.
T:Bluebell Polka
R:polka
C:trad.
S:played A - B - A - C
M:4/4
L:1/8
Q:80
K:G
(3Bdg| "G"b2 b2 gfge |"D"d2 d2 "G"B3 G |"D"FGAB "C"c2 d2 | "D"ed^cd "G"B2 (3Bdg |
b2 b2 gfge| "D"d2 d2 "G"B3 G |"D"FGAB cdef | "G"g2 b2g2 :|
K:D
B2 | "D"A2 A2 FAdf |"A"a2 a2 "F#m"f4 |"A"a2 ^g2 "G"=g2 e2 | "D"b2 a^g "A"a2 f2 |
"D"A2 A2 FAdf | "A"a2 a2 "F#m"f4 |"A"a2 ^g2 "G"=g2 e2 | "D"d2 f2 d2 :|
K:C
f2|"C"e2 e2 ef g2 | e2 e2 ef g2 | "Dm"fefg fe d2 | fefg fe d2 |"C"e2 e2 ef g2 | e2 e2 ef g2 |
"Dm"fefg "G"fe d2| "C"c2 e2 c2 :|

CURLEW HILLS, THE. Ireland. AKA and see "Bluebell Polka," "Little Pet Polka," "Flop Eared Mule."

FLOP-EARED MULE [1]. AKA and see "Karo," "Asheville" (western N.C. title), "Big-Eared Mule," "Long-Eared Mule" (Don Messer's {Canada} title), "Lop-Eared Mule" (Pennsylvania), "Bluebell Polka," "College Schottische," "Detroit Schottische," "Ranger's Hornpipe," "Monkey in the Barbershop," "Hell Over the Mountain," "Peach Tree Limb," "Comin' Over the Mountain," "Hell Amongst the Slavish," "D-A Quadrille" (N.Y.). Old-Time, Bluegrass, Canadian, American; Schottische, Quadrille, Breakdown. USA, Widely known. G Major ('A' part) & D Major ('B' part) [G Major in Galax, Va., tradition]. Standard or ADAE. 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. 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 Irish tunes "The Curlew Hills" and "Little Pet Polka," as well as the English "Bluebell Polka." 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 "The Barn Dance," 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. 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"). Sources for notated versions: Charles Hagan (Oakland, California) [Thede]; John Dingler and Milo Kouf, 1977 (New York State) [Bronner]; Robert Crow, Claysville, Pennsylvania, September 13, 1943 (learned in that region) [Bayard]; Clark Kessinger (W.Va.) [Phillips]. Adam, 1928; Nos. 25 & 34. Bayard (Hill Country Tunes), 1944; No. 56. Bayard (Dance to the Fiddle), 1981; No. 164A-S, pgs. 101-107. Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; pg. 108. Bronner (Old Time Music Makers of New York State), 1987; No. 42, pg. 162. Christeson (Old Time Fiddler's Repertory, Vol. 1), 1973; pg. 110. Ford (Traditional Music in America), 1940; pg. 121 & 157. Howe (Diamond School for the Violin), 1861; pg. 56 (appears as "Detroit Schottische"). Messer (Anthology of Favorite Fiddle Tunes), 1980; pg. 44 (appears as "Long-Eared Mule"). Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, Vol. 1), 1994; pg. 89. Reiner (Anthology of Fiddle Styles), 1977; pg. 22 (appears as a schottisch). Ruth (Pioneer Western Folk Tunes), 1948; No. 24, pg. 10. Sannella, Balance and Swing (CDSS). Thede (The Fiddle Book), 1967; pg. 129. Bluebird 5658B (78 RPM), Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers (1934). Brunswick 346 (78 RPM), Lonnie Austin (1929). Cassette C-7625, Wilson Douglas - "Back Porch Symphony." County 733, Clark Kessinger- "The Legend of Clark Kessinger." County CO-CD-2711, Kirk Sutphin - "Old Roots and New Branches" (1994). Elektra 217, Weisberg and Brickman- "Folk Banjo Styles." F&W Records 4, "The Canterbury Country Orchestra Meets the F&W String Band." Folkways 8826, Per's Four--"Jigs and Reels." Folkways FA 2336, Clark Kessinger- "Fiddler." King 787, Reno and Smiley- "Banjo Special." Living Folk LFR-104, Allan Block - "Alive and Well and Fiddling." MCA Records MCAD 4037, "The Very Best of Don Messer" (1994). Paramount 3171 (78 RPM), 1929, Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers. Prize 498-02, Carl Jackson- "Bluegrass Festival." Recorded Anthology of American Music (1978) - "Traditional Southern Instrumental Styles." Rounder 0021, "Ola Belle Reed." Rounder Records, Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers - "The Kickapoo Medecine Show" (appears as 1st tune of the Kickapoo Medecine Show skit).

IS TRUA GAN PEATA 'N MHAOIR AGAM [1]. AKA and see "Your Mother's Fair Pet," "Peata Beag mo Mháthar," "Peata Geal do Mháthar," "I'm ready now," "Our House at Home." Irish, Polka and Air. D Major/A Mixolydian. Standard. AB. Paul de Grae translates the title as "a pity I don't have the steward's pet." The name is from the chorus of a song (sung to the first part of the tune), from the playing of Doolin, County Clare, tin-whistle player Micho Russell (1915-1994) who called it "Peata Beag is a Mháthair" (Little pet and its mother). Breathnach finds versions in Joyce (Cnuasach ceoil a rinne Patrick Weston Joyce, pgs. 12-13) and Petrie (Ancient Music of Ireland, 1882, 42/43). He gives one of Russell's verses:
***
I wish I had a bainbhín bainbhín = young pig
A bainbhín, a bainbhín,
I wish I had a bainbhín
That would drink the pratie water.
***
Russell maintained that drinking the water after boiling potatoes (i.e. pratie water) was good for your feet and that young pigs liked it (Piggott, Blooming Meadows, 1998).
***
Source for notated version: Micko Russell, 1966 (Doolin, Co. Clare, Ireland) [Breathnach]. Breathnach (CRE II), 1976; No. 259, pg. 134. Tubridy (Irish Traditional Music, Vol. 1), 1999; pg. 8 (appears as "Peata Beag Mo Mháthar"). Michael Tubridy: The Eagle's Whistle
T:Peata Beag Mo Mháthar
R:Polka
L:1/8
M:2/4
K:D
d2 cA|BG GB|AB cA|dfaf|d2 cA|BG GB|AB cA|d2 de||
|:fd de|fg a>a|bg af|gb a>g|fd de|fg a>a|bg af|g2 fe:|

LITTLE PET POLKA. Irish. AKA and see "The Curlew Hills," "Bluebell Polka" (England), "Flop Eared Mule."


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