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We will be adding more tablature arrangements regularly... please visit again.


Each time a new file is posted in Current Tablature, the previous file is moved to "Archived tab files".



Hello, Ma Baby




Words: Joseph E. Howard
Music: Ida Emerson
arr. © Robert Brereton, 2007


The telephone - - oh the wonderful telephone - - it lets people reach out over great distances and connect with friends – family – complete strangers. This month’s offering is about a telephonic romance. This Tin Pan Alley ragtime tune, Hello! Ma Baby, was written in 1899 by Joseph E. Howard and Ida Emerson. It was one of the biggest musical hits of the year. The chorus is the best known part of the song – which has been recorded by many over the years. Some who have recorded it are Arthur Collins, Judy Garland -- and Michigan J. Frog!


This was an era of new inventions – Victrolas, airplanes, horseless carriages – electricity – and the telephone. In the song, a young man is attempting to woo a girl he has never seen. He calls her every day hoping to get her name and address so they can meet in person, but fears that he will lose her to those who can talk in person. But he keeps calling her every day. It was one of the first times the telephone was used in a song, and thus it was given the nickname of the Telephone Rag.


The song was so successful that the team of Howard and Emerson wrote a sequel to it, called I’ve Lost Ma Baby.


Notice that this dulcimer arrangement is done in F-A-C, another 1-3-5 tuning. You could also play it in D-F#-A, and it would be automatically transposed from the key of F to the key of D. (Then you would rename your chords 2 steps lower.)


Rob Brereton is one of the pioneers of contemporary mountain dulcimer playing, and one of the first to arrange extensively in the 1-3-5 tuning. He discovered that much of the Tin Pan Alley era ragtime music, and early jazz tunes of Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, and the like, with all their chromatic notes and expressive color chords, could be played easily in this tuning. He is fond of referring to it as "the almost chromatic tuning". 




Your 1-3-5 Team



Download files 


Hello! Ma Baby.pdf


Hello! Ma Baby.mid


Hello! Ma Baby.tef


Historical Links:









  Click to go to the TablEdit website and download their free demo version

If you do not have the Tabledit program, please click on the TablEdit banner to download a free .tef reader program.  It includes the ability to play this song at a slower speed (great for learning). TablEdit is a program for creating, editing, printing and listening to tablature and sheet music (standard notation) for fretted, stringed instruments.

  Click here to download a free version of Adobe Reader

Adobe® Reader® is a free software for viewing and printing Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files.

  Our PDF music files are produced from music created with Finale® notation software.


Our .MIDI music files are produced by TablEdit notation software.





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