Old Hen Cackle, Turkey Medley Part Two

As played by Clayton McMichen from the Georgia region

Novelty Tune in G

From the Clayton McMichen Collection

5 files for this tune:

Melody-Only Transcription (PDF)
Full Transcription (PDF)
Melody-Only Transcription of Entire Medley (PDF)
Full Transcription of Entire Medley (PDF)


78rpm Record


This transcription is sponsored by Dr. Fiddle contributor Patrick Towell.

Clayton McMichen recorded this medley of Turkey in the Straw, Old Hen Cackle, and Fiddler’s Dram (AKA Jenny Lind) in 1939. This is perhaps the most diverse of the several medleys he recorded over the years, consisting of a breakdown, a novelty tune, and a polka. In Turkey and Hen, McMichen used various techniques to imitate poultry noises, but he played Dram straight.

I normally can’t stand what I call “novelty tunes” such as Old Hen Cackle, tunes that use the fiddle to imitate other things (in this case, annoying hens). But I actually like McMichen’s rendition, probably because of its bluesy aesthetic. Look out for B-flats, which are used as blue notes.

The A part is a straight fiddle tune. There are four distinct variants of B part, each of which imitates chicken noises in some way. One does so by sliding up from a B-flat to a B-natural on the second string. Two of them do so by sliding down on the first string. The final variant relies on Spiccato bowstrokes (notes marked with Xs) to imitate clucking sounds. The Spiccato variant of the B part also features a Spiccato bowed triplet. Three of the four B part variants are crooked.

The A part has some vibrato, which is shown in the notation by a squiggly line to the left of notes to be played vibrato.

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