First off, I apologize if I post this more than once. I accidentally hit a backspace and it disappeared, so I’ll try again.
I’m getting ready to learn Flop-eared Mule and would like to know how most people play it. I have lots of books, but the three I use most often all play it differently. Pennye Sheiber, who is from Michigan I believe, shows it played AABBA with Part A in the key of D and Part B in the key of A. Maddie MacNeil, who is from the East, shows it AABCC (C is virtually the same as Part A so we could say she plays it AABAA) with Part A in the key of D, Part B in the key of A, and Part C back in the key of D. Rick Thum, who is from the Midwest, plays it AABB, with Part A in the key of G and part B in the key of D. The reason I’m asking this is that I really get frustrated when I work so hard to learn a song one way and then find out most people play it totally differently. For example, I learned Black Nag in the Key of Em; then, the first jam session I went to, everyone played it in the key of D. I learned Soldier’s Joy at a festival, came home and worked hard to memorize it. When I got to a local session, I found out the Part B I had learned was 90 percent Part A of Blackberry Blossoms. By the way, it works very nicely.
I know, the way the HD is laid out, it’s not a big deal to jump back and forth in the major key boxes of D, G, and C if the song is played the straight old fiddle-tune way of AABB. But, when I have to start thinking out of the box (pun intended), my brain just shuts down. Years ago, it was expected that different areas would play songs differently, but now, with all our dulcimer websites and the way HD instructors travel to festivals all over the country, many of us spending summers in the North and winters in the South, I think it would be great if we could come together more on our songs. Anyway, I’d certainly appreciate it you’d let me know how you play Flop-eared Mule.