This is a popular Appalachian fiddle and banjo tune in the Mixolydian or Dorian mode (as in the score below which is in A Dorian). In short, it is regarded as an Appalachian American fiddle tune. The song comes in two versions; the instrumental or lyrical version. Depending on the artist, it can be played either way. As is the case with other ancient fiddlers tune, the earliest transcribed version of this tune emerged in 1886. This tune was included in the Negro Folk Rhymes: Wise, which was compiled by Thomas W. Talley and published in 1922. In 1923, John Carson did a recording of the tune. As a comical old tune, it evokes funny images in the mind which inspire laughter. For example, it chronicles the experience of the persona who is an older woman in the pursuit of an aging hen. The aging hen in question has put a stop to egg-laying. The older woman switches between sweet-talking the hen to warning it. In most bluegrass and old-time circles, the “Cluck Old Hen” is played as a lively instrumental as opposed to the lyrical version. This is because it started as a fiddle instrumental tune whose lyrics were added later on.