Source of Indiana songs

People interested in old music of the Midwest might like The Play-Party in Indiana, which describes many of the songs and party dances enjoyed in rural Indiana at the turn of the 20th century and earlier. You can read the book online or download it from Google Books.

You’ll recognize several song names (Polly Put the Kettle On, Golden Slippers, …). The melodies aren’t always what we associate with the names, and it’s clear that thrifty Hoosiers got a lot of use out of the melody that we know now as “Buffalo Gals.”

Here’s a song that’s now played as “Hawks and Eagles” at old-time sessions:

Old Brass Wagon

I like the lyrics in the next one. Unfortunately, the dance notes don’t describe what happens when the dancers are supposed to “all chaw hay on the corner”:

All Chaw Hay

When this book was published (1916), I think folklore researchers let their conclusions be influenced by some fancies. However, I like to believe that the basic descriptions of the parties and songs is accurate, especially since many were still being sung and danced when the book was being researched.

Page 11 vividly describes the hills, creeks, and clay soil where I live, though Ripley County is east of me. And the book shows the wide variety of keys and meters that we used to use for dances.

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1 Response to “Source of Indiana songs”


  1. 1 Bumpditty May 19, 2009 at 2:18 am

    Now I would love to hear you play it on youtube. You add just a great style to it :)


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