Monday, May 6, 2013

My Dog Has Fleas - the origin...or lack thereof

My Dog Has Fleas - perhaps you've heard someone sing this phrase when describing the re-entrant tuning that a ukulele is commonly played in.  The notes that correspond with it in our modern day uke circles are GCEA.  But where did that silly little phrase come from?

It seems to be one of those questions that yields more questions than it does answers.  The truth of the matter is that no one really knows the origin of "My Dog Has Fleas".  While it's probably not related in any way, it's interesting to note that the Hawaiian word "ukulele" literally means "jumping flea". 

All throughout it's history, music has been filled with mnemonic devices to aid us in remembering.  For instance, my elementary music teacher used a series of acronyms to help us remember the notes on the lines of the staff - "Every Good Boy Does Fine" and "Good Boys Do Fine Always".  I think that these two phrases are quite common in musical teaching curriculum. 

At least the above examples make some kind of sense, whereas "My Dog Has Fleas" doesn't seem to.  But hey, whatever works, right? 

6 comments:

  1. FWIW, yesterday I saw this page:
    http://ezfolk.com/uke/basic-ukulele/html/6a-my_dog_has_fleas.html
    where Richard Hefner presents a song titled "My dog has fleas" which he says he wrote in 2001 (but I have no idea if the phrase existed previously and inspired the song).

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  2. I WILL HACK THIS WEBSITE AS LIKE I HACKED FOX NEWS

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    1. Bad English, all capitals, learning to play the uke could be the turning point away from your life of crime.

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  3. oh no please dont this website is usefull

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  4. I first heard the phrase and song My Dog Has Fleas in 1963, and I'm sure it's much older, so what Richard Hefner did in 2001 was plagiarize.

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  5. I was in sixth grade in about 1960 and we had a substitute teacher Well she had been having a hard day and in the middle of trying to teach us a few songs, a kid named Dick something pitched in loudly with "MY DOG HAS FLEAS," quite derisively just to disrupt the class. It was really funny except that the substitute couldn't take it and left the room in tears.

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