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A finite number of tunes

I’ve always been quietly amused by the fact that ‘the alphabet song’ is to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, moreso that my parents used the same tune to teach me to spell my name:

C - H - R - I - S - T - O
P - H - E - R, off we go.

OK, so they never got past the first verse. I suppose that’s why I never really learned how to spell my middle name until the sixth grade. But it just occurred to me, somewhat freakishly, that Old Mother Hubbard, Little Miss Muffet, and, oh, a billion other nursery rhymes share a tune too. Mashing them up yields infinite pleasures:

Old Mother Hubbard
sat on a tuffet
to give her poor dog a bone.

Some in rags
and some in tags
and pretty maids all in a row.

OK, so the rhyming couplets kinda fuck things around, but what’s the deal? Little Bo Peep? Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary? Little Jack Horner? Hark, Hark, The Dogs Go Bark? Jack and Jill? I read Heavy Words Lightly Thrown just a couple of months ago and it made no mention of the common rhythm and rhyming pattern. Is it really that hard to think of a new tune when you’re constructing a nursery rhyme, or do people believe that it is precisely this tune that makes a rhyme fit for the nursery?

And they thought DJ Danger Mouse was a thief.