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Origins: Play parties from all USA regions

GUEST,Music-Hunter 05 Mar 12 - 07:17 PM
Azizi 06 Mar 12 - 04:19 PM
Azizi 06 Mar 12 - 04:25 PM
Azizi 06 Mar 12 - 04:55 PM
Azizi 06 Mar 12 - 05:05 PM
Desert Dancer 07 Mar 12 - 12:16 PM
sciencegeek 07 Mar 12 - 12:45 PM
Bettynh 07 Mar 12 - 03:03 PM
radriano 07 Mar 12 - 04:53 PM
ChanteyLass 07 Mar 12 - 10:57 PM
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Subject: Origins: Play parties from all USA regions
From: GUEST,Music-Hunter
Date: 05 Mar 12 - 07:17 PM

I am an elementary music teacher who loves teaching American folk music- I especially love a good play-party. My 4th graders are studying the different regions of the USA, and doing reports on different states with their classroom teachers. I would love to teach them a play party from each of the different regions of the USA- midwest, southwest, northeast, southeast, and west.

So far I have "Goin' Down to Cairo," from Illinois (to represent the Midwest), and "Nana, Thread Needle" from Mrs. Bessie Jones to represent the Southeast.

Any ideas would be appreciated! Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Play parties from all USA regions
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Mar 12 - 04:19 PM

Guest

With regard to play-party songs which were performed or may still be performed in the USA, I think part of the reason for a lack of response to your query is that many people who are regular commenters on this site are from the UK, Canada, Australia, or elsewhere. Furthermore, although I'm from the United States, I had to read up on Wikipedia to find out which states were in those regions that you mentioned. It appears that the United States Census divides that nation into four regions, not the five that you listed.

Those regions are:

Region 1 - Northeast
Region 2 -Midwest
Region 3 -South
Region 4 -West

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_regions_of_the_United_States.

That said, there are Wikipedia pages for those five regions that you mentioned.

Also, when it comes to the number of play-party songs that have been collected, I think your students may find that many of those songs are adapted versions of songs from the United Kingdom. Also, I think that your students will find that all regions of the USA aren't equal when it comes to the number of play-party songs that have been collected. I believe that the South (the region that you listed as the "Southeast"* has far more examples of play-party songs than any other region. To a large extent, that is due to the preservation and adaptation of those songs by African Americans in that region - for instance the Gullah traditions exemplified by Bessie Jones.

*"The Southeastern United States, colloquially referred to as the Southeast, is the eastern portion of the Southern United States. It is one of the most populous regions in the United States of America. There is no official Census Bureau definition of the southeastern United States. However, the Association of American Geographers defines the southeastern United States as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southeastern_United_States.

However, in my next comment to this thread, I'll re-post an excerpt from an online site that provides examples of play-party songs from the Northeast (although that page mostly documents experiences of play-party songs in Kansas (Midwestern USA).


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Subject: RE: Origins: Play parties from all USA regions
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Mar 12 - 04:25 PM

Here's the excerpt that I mentioned in my earlier post. I'm re-posting it for the folkloric record. I consider the entire article to be quite interesting. The examples may be singing games and not actual play-party songs. I admit that I don't always know the difference between those two categories, and instead consider play-party songs as a sub-category of singing games...


This excerpt is from http://www.kshs.org/p/kansas-historical-quarterly-kansas-play-party-songs/12756
Kansas Historical Quarterly - Kansas Play-Party Songs

by Myra E. Hull

November 1938 (Vol. 7, No. 4), pages 258 to 286
Transcribed by lhn;
digitized with permission of the Kansas Historical Society.


..."Since children's singing games are so closely related to certain types of party games, a few of these heard in Kansas during the past fifty years will be considered here. Many of these I learned from my mother; others were sung by the children of Diamond School District No. 78, whose old stone schoolhouse has been a landmark in southern Butler county since 1878.

One of the first games I ever played was taught me by a group of Quaker children whose parents had come to Kansas from North Carolina in 1872, and established the Friends church near what is now Rose Hill. In playing this game, we sat down in a circle, and one child began by carrying on the following conversation with her nearest neighbor:


Toady, toady, how is thee?
I'm as well as I can be.
How's the neighbor next to thee?
Thee stay here and I'll go see.

263 HULL: KANSAS PLAY-PARTY SONGS

And so the game continued indefinitely. It was, as I remember it, enjoyment in the lowest key.

However, the version recorded by W. W. Newell, as played by New York and Philadelphia children about 1883, is much livelier:

"The question [`Quaker, Quaker, how is thee?'] is accompanied by a rapid movement of the right hand. The second child in the ring inquires in the same manner of the third, and so all round. Then the same question is asked with a like gesture of the left hand, and [continues] . . . with both hands, left foot, right foot, both feet, and finally, by uniting all the motions at once. `A nice long game.'" [2] I have recently seen college students play in a similar fashion a singing game called "One finger, one thumb, one hand; keep moving."

Another variant reported by Jean O. Heck, from Whittier school, Cincinnati, is called "Neighbor, neighbor, how art thee?" [3] Numerous other imitative motion songs are sung by Kansas children. Perhaps the most familiar is "The Mulberry Bush," a common version of which is:


1. Here we go round the mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush;
Here we go round the mulberry bush,

So early in the morning.

2. This is the way we wash our clothes,
All on a Monday morning.

3. This is the way we iron our clothes,
All on a Tuesday morning.

The song continues with the occupation of each day of the week. Children add verses at will, as "This is the way we wash our hands," or "This is the way we go to school." The old English May Day game, "Here We Go Gathering Nuts in May," is also sung to the same tune. [4]

A similar game, but not so well known, is "I Went to Visit My Friend One Day," the tune of which is that of the hymn, "Consolation Flowing Free." [5] This particular variant was sung by Lewis Madison Hull, of Nickerson, about 1904."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Play parties from all USA regions
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Mar 12 - 04:55 PM

Guest Music-Hunter, although you and your students might still be interested in this post that I published on my cultural blog:

http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/03/united-states-play-party-songs-other.html "United States Play Party Songs & Other Singing Games"

That post provides some information about play-party songs and other singing games and also provides the lyrics, performance instructions, comments, and a video of one version of the following songs:

Draw Me A Bucket Of Water (Also known as "Frog In The Bucket")

Tideo

Little Johnny Brown

Paw Paw Patch.

-snip-

Additional versions and videos of those versions can be found on this page of my cultural website: http://cocojams.com/content/childrens-game-songs-and-movement-rhymes

-snip-

I think all of those featured songs were collected from the South. For what it's worth, the only one of those songs that I remember learning in my childhood was "Way Down Yonder In The Paw Paw Patch".

I believe this was during summer Vacation Bible Schoolin the 1950s, Atlantic City, New Jersey (African American children). I believe that the "students" in that church summer program leaned that game and the singing game (play-party?) "Zudio" from an African American parent/teacher who was from the South (I think Georgia, but I'm not sure). Versions of "Zudio" can also be found on that Cocojams page and is also featured in this Pancocojams post: http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/02/five-traditional-african-american-game.html "Five Traditional African American Game Songs"

In addition to "Zudio" ("Zoodio"), the featured games in that post are (all collected from the South, though performed elsewhere in the USA and otherwise) are "Green Sally Up", "Little Sally Walker", "Johnny Cuckoo", and "Bob-A-Needle".


Btw, Music-Hunter, it would be great if you would post the words and performance instructions to the two play-party songs that you mentioned "Goin' Down to Cairo," and "Nana, Thread Needle". I'm not familiar with either of those games, and I believe that other people reading this discussion thread would also be interested in learning more about those games.

Best wishes,

Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: Origins: Play parties from all USA regions
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Mar 12 - 05:05 PM

Oops! I noticed an editing mistake in my second comment.

I was going to write that although I didn't divide those examples by regions, you and your students may still be interested in reading that post...

Sorry about that mistake. All other mistakes - such as that missing parenthesis marker in my first comment - will have to fend for themselves. :o)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Play parties from all USA regions
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 07 Mar 12 - 12:16 PM

What she said. If I had posted, I would have pointed you her way. :-)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Play parties from all USA regions
From: sciencegeek
Date: 07 Mar 12 - 12:45 PM

My mom grew up in South Jersey.. Cape May, and she taught me Picking up Paw Paws and Itsy Bitsy Spider when I was little

- we lived in eastern Long Island mostly surrounded by recent immigrant families that had older kids.

We sang Old MacDonald, Coming 'round the Mountain, Polly Wooly Doodle mixed with Marsie Doats & Doosie Oats and Hut Sut Rawlston on the Rilla Rock ( goofy songs from Swing Bands). no idea to actually spell them.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Play parties from all USA regions
From: Bettynh
Date: 07 Mar 12 - 03:03 PM

My first thought for New England would be a reel. I know the dance is usually called the Virginia reel, but when it came over here Virginia was the name of everything west of Boston. We danced it in grade school, singing "The Noble Duke of York" over and over, but maybe "Yankee Doodle" would be more to the point. Since it has to repeat so many times for the dance, maybe they could write some new verses.

7th grade virginia reel.


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Subject: ADD: Coffee Grows on White Oak Trees
From: radriano
Date: 07 Mar 12 - 04:53 PM

Coffee Grows on White Oak Trees
John & Alan Lomax, Best Loved American Folk Songs, 1947


Notes from the book:

You'll enjoy this Southwestern play-party game as a song, but, in case you want to try the play-party which it describes, we give the directions herewith.

This one is for any number of couples. They join hands, with the ladies on the left, form a ring, and march around and around a lone man, who stands inside the circle. As they march, they sing the introduction in slow tempo. The man inside the circle chooses a partner from the ring. Then, while the dancers in the ring skip around him, singing –

Two in the middle and I can't dance Josie –

he swings his partner, first by the right hand and then by the left. Then the introductory stanza is sung again, while the dancers in the ring circle round and round and the two dancers in the middle each choose themselves a partner. All sing –

Four in the middle and I can't dance Josie –

while the two couples in the middle of the ring swing by the right and the left. The introduction is repeated, while all four dancers in the center of the ring choose partners. Then on –

Wheel around and twirl around, I can't dance Josie –

the eight dancers now inside the ring break into groups of four and swing by the right and left. Then, as all dancers sing at a slow tempo –

Railroad, steamboat, river an' canal –

six of the dancers inside rejoin the ring and all march around the couple that remains inside. They sing at a livelier tempo –

O she's gone, gone, gone –

to allow the couple remaining in the middle to swing right and left. Then game then begins again with the introduction, skipping the first stanza this time, since a couple now stands in the center of the ring. Use any of the remaining haywire stanzas that you care to in repeating the dance pattern until everyone has had enough.

The Song:
Intro:

Cofee grows on white oak trees
The river flows with brandy-o
Go choose some one to roam with you
As sweet as 'lasses candy

Two in the middle and I can't dance Josie
Two in the middle and I can't get around
Two in the middle and I can't dance Josie
Hello, Susan Brown

Intro

Four in the middle and I can't dance Josie

Intro

Wheel around and twirl around, I can't dance Josie

Intro

Rats in the boots and the boots turn over

Intro

Cow in the well and can't jump Josie

Intro

Briar in my heel and I can't dance Josie

Intro

Fiddler's drunk and I can't dance Josie

Finale:

Railroad, steamboat, river an' canal
I lost my true love on that ragin' canal
O she's gone, gone, gone
O she's gone, gone, gone
O she's gone on that ragin' canal


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Subject: RE: Origins: Play parties from all USA regions
From: ChanteyLass
Date: 07 Mar 12 - 10:57 PM

As a child in my neighborhood (Northeast, specifically Rhode Island) did some of these dances/games like Hokey Pokey and Here we go Loop de Lou. This book might help you. http://www.upress.state.ms.us/books/792 , though I don't know if it breaks things down by regions.


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