My dog has fleas


Maybe you’ve heard someone singing My Dog Has Fleas when tuning their Ukulele? But where did that silly little phrase come from?

Music has always been filled with mnemonic devices – remember memorising Every Good Boy Deserves Football for the notes on the five lines of the musical stave (EGBDF)?

So why My Dog Has Fleas?

MDHF do not correspond to notes! The four strings of the Ukulele are actually tuned to GCEA. Maybe it’s one of those questions where we simply don’t know the real reason.

Maybe it’s because the Hawaiian word ‘Ukulele’ means Jumping Flea…?

As far as Richard Durrant is concerned it’s been a very intense, four stringed start to the year with those four strings set, throughout January and February, in standard ukulele tuning gCEA:

Note that the lower case ‘g’ is no typo – it represents the re-entrant, bottom string of the uke. ‘Re-entrant’ meaning the lower string is tuned one octave higher than your ears would expect.

Richard with ukulele

The ukulele has this feature in common with the G Banjo which has a high G string as its bottom string with its own characteristic tuning peg sticking out halfway up the neck.

The baroque guitar would also commonly have not one but two re-entrant, “bottom” strings which could be written in shorthand as adGBE.

Richard is very fond of reminding people to tune their ukes in My Dog Has Fleas tuning.  It’s even the title of a short film which can be seen on Amazon Prime: Richard Durrant – My Dog Has Fleas. This was filmed last year by Peter Lisney during Richard’s orchestral project.

Watch the trailer from ‘My Dog Has Fleas’…

Richard celebrates the completion of his first ukulele quartet with a premiere performance at Ropetackle Arts Centre and the printing of a limited edition, souvenir score which can be ordered from the website.

The premiere will be played by Richard with no less than thirty of his Ukulele Circuit Trainers who have been rehearsing three nights a week for the big day.

‘I love the purity of four ukuleles playing this music – but when my one solo uke is joined by three large groups playing the other parts the effect is rather magical and hypnotic.’

Richard’s ukulele year continues with performances at the Ukulele Festival of Scotland from 24-26 May before travelling to North Wales for the Meet The Ukulele Makers Festival from 31 May to 2 June.

And this article could not be complete without a lovely picture of Richard’s (Flea free) dog, Bollo, chilling out to the sound of the ukulele- courtesy of Peter Lisney…

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