The following is an essential list of traditional hoedown and singing call selections that represent the most popular old time square dance music. These were frequently performed dances, and some of the figures used by callers were the same on a national basis, however, some were called and executed by the dancers differently regionally, as well. Also, it is important to note that the simpler figures used such as “Split the Ring” and “Duck for the Oyster” were danced pretty much the same everywhere in the traditional manner. The more advanced dances varied from area to area and local callers added their personal touches to many of the figures that were used in the traditional style of square dance. The choreography was set and married to the particular songs.
The two types of square dance calls used today are patter calls and singing calls. Over the years the singing calls, which were adapted from the patter calling commands, or choreography that is delivered, have evolved a lot throughout the past 50 years, and because of our changing culture, will always continue to change. Perhaps the reason why singing call music has maintained it’s popularity in modern western square dance over the years is because of this constant change that keeps pace with our modern music enjoyed by everyone today.
Although traditional square dance music was danced to live musicians in a square dance band, some of these recordings were used extensively as modern western square dance became more and more popular.
Essential Traditional Hoedown Square Dance for Patter Calls:
|Little Brown Jug||Worldtone 10023|
|Devil’s Dream||Wagon Wheel 124|
|Rubber Dolly||Blue Star 1767|
|Old Joe Clark||Folkraft 1071|
|Mississippi Sawyer||Folkraft 1334|
|Chinese Breakdown||Sets in Order 2123|
|Stay a Little Longer||Chaparral 109|
|River Boat Run||Kalox 1275|
|Turkey in the Straw||Worldtone 10023|
|Jim Jam||Sets in Order 2147|
|Dance All Night||Kalox 1277|
|Buffalo Gals||Folkraft 1145|
|Boil Them Cabbage Down||Folkraft 3301|
Essential Traditional Square Dance Singing Calls:
|Red River Valley||Folkraft 1269|
|Darling Nellie Grey||Square Dance Music SJB-6A|
|Comin’ Round the Mountain||Windsor 4115|
|Pop Goes the Weasel||Folkraft 1329|
|Pistol Packin’ Mama||Old Timer 1103|
|Oh Susannah||Folkraft 1186|
|Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight||Windsor 4115|
|Merry Go Round of Love||Wagon Wheel 131|
|May the Circle Be Unbroken||Grenn 12137|
|King of the Road||Wagon Wheel 922|
|Easy on My Mind||Wagon Wheel 133|
|Manana||Mac Gregor 1017|
Mission Statement: The purpose of this post is to create a greater visibility of the square dance activity for future dance population growth on a national and local level. The information provided here serves as a source for square dance caller training, education, and perspectives on dance. Future articles will be developed to improve the programs of square dancing and how those learning to square dance call can help contribute to the preservation of both modern western square dancing and traditional square dancing and to aid in the growth of the square dance activity.