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Square Dance and Square Dance Music in Western New York State

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Square Dance and Square Dance Music in Western New York State


Two articles by the pre-eminent scholar of this region's traditional music and dance traditions, and included on the site with the permission of the author. Kimball discusses the history of dances in this region, looks at the dances themselves and their social context, and describes the music commonly played.

An excerpt:
"...As early as the 1880s in rural New York and neighboring states, some had taken to singing some of the calls to the tune being played. This was perhaps a natural result of the fiddler-caller having to play and call at the same time. With the advent of microphones and public-address systems in the 1930s, the singing caller became the norm throughout the region, as did the widespread appropriation of popular or country songs and instrumentation for square dancing. Square dancing had been declining significantly as younger dancers, even in rural areas, came under the influence of the jazz era and Tin Pan Alley. But the new sound attached to the old dances caught on due to various factors, including Henry Ford's outspoken advocacy of old-time dancing, Floyd Woodhull's appearance at the New York World's Fair in 1940, the rise of numerous square dance clubs, demonstration groups and competitions, and the whole feeling in the World War II era that this was a very "American" type of activity. By the late 1940s round and square dances were a regular part of high-school and small-town social life throughout the region. ... "


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Item Relations

This Item is related to Item: Floyd Woodhull (photograph)
This Item is related to Item: Old-Time Music Makers of New York State
This Item is related to Item: The Rural Square Dance in the Northeastern United States: A Continuity of Tradition
Item: Square Dancing in Western New York is related to This Item