Annotation:Buffalo Gals (1)

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X:1 T:Buffalo Gals [1] WES.068 M:2/4 L:1/8 R:Country Dance Q:1/4=110 B:T.Westrop's 120 Country Dances, 1860's Z:VMP-R.Greig 2010 K:Bb V:1 clef=treble name="0." [V:1] F|Bcde|gf d/d/d|fe c/c/c|edB G| Bcde|gfdb|afec|BdB:|]! F|d/d/d ed/e/|gf/e/ dd|fe/d/ cc|e(d/c/) BF| d/d/d e/d/e|gf/e/ (db)|af/f/ ec/c/|BdB:|]

BUFFALO GALS [1]. See "Alabama Gals (Won't You Come Out Tonight)," "Bowery Girls," "Brown Town Gals," "Cincinnati Girls," "Hagtown Girls," "Hagantown Gals" (Pa), "I Danced with the Girl with a Hole in Her Stocking," "Jackto(w)n" {or "Jackstown"} (Pa.), "Jimtown Gals," "Johnstown" (Pa.), "Louisiana Gals," "Lubly Fan," "Lushbaugh Gals," "Maxwell Girl," "Midnight Serenade (2)," "Old Johnnie Walker" (English Country Dance), "Reel Robert," "Roundtown Girls/Gals," "Yellow Gals." American, English; Air, Breakdown, Reel or Polka. USA; Oklahoma, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi, New York, Pa., Arizona. F Major (Shaw): G Major (most versions). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Shaw, Sweet): AAB: AABB (Phillips). The popular melody "Buffalo Gals" has been set in a variety of musical forms and genres. The name 'Buffalo' for the New York town derives from the name of a Native American. It was first called Buffalo Creek, becoming simply Buffalo as the town grew. It has been speculated, however, that the name of the tune/song derives from Erie Canal workers who frequented the prostitutes located on Goose Island, in Buffalo. The tune is widespread in American tradition, though as Samuel Bayard (1944) points out, the song is widely disseminated and is now an 'international melody'. Curiously, he thinks the air itself probably originated in Germany, but came to America and was assimilated in 'British style'. Instrumental versions, not surprisingly, are more ornate than vocal settings and display much wider variation, as a comparison of the sources listed below will attest. "Version B ('Johnstown Gals') affords a good example of how the influence of common melodic formulae, combined with tendencies toward attaining easy bowing and fingering will modify the outlines of a tune in instrumental tradition. Version A ('Hagantown Gals') is much like some recorded further south; B is in some ways distinctive...Sets from American tradition are Lomax, American Ballads and Folk Songs, pp. 288–289; Ford, p. 53; Adam, No. 12; and three play-party versions from Texas in Owens, Swing and Turn, pp. 45, 54, 103. (Bayard, 1944). See also "O Dear Mother My Toes are Sore (3)" for a 6/8 version ('A' part only).

In America it is one of the most frequently mentioned fiddle tunes of the entire repertory. It appears listed in the early 20th century repertories of such geographically disparate musicians as Arizona fiddler Kenner C. Kartchner and Union County, Pa., fiddler Harry Daddario. Musicologist/Folklorist Vance Randolph recorded the tune from Ozark Mountain fiddler for the Library of Congress in the early 1940's. Cauthen (1990) says the tune had folk origins but was published in 1848 as a minstrel tune. "It was already well known in the gulf town of Mobile, Alabama, in 1846, where a woman who had once been "a flower, innocent and beautiful but long since turned from its stem, trampled, soiled and desecrated" was arrested for drunkenly singing 'Mobile gals, won't you come out tonight' on the streets" (pp. 13–14). Bronner (1987) says that although the tune had a long traditional history its popularity in America stems from its use in the 19th century popular theater. In the 1840's one Cool White (real name: John Hodges), a blackface performer, sang a tune called "Lubly Fan, Won't You Come Out Tonight" with the popular minstrel troupe the Virginia Serenaders. He claimed to have composed it, and credit is often given to him, but it was first printed on sheet music in New York in 1848 with "author unknown." Alan Jabbour found a tune called "Midnight Serenade (2)" in George P. Knauff's Virginia Reels, volume IV, printed in Baltimore in 1839, that is a set of "Buffalo Gals," and since it precedes the minstrel era or at least publication of "Lubly Fan," he suggests the tune was at the time in oral tradition at least in the Upland South.

Overseas the song can be found in English songsters of the 19th and early 20th centuries. In Scott (1926) "Buffalo Gals" appears as sung by the minstrel group the Ethiopian Serenaders. Barry M. Murphy of Sussex, England, writes to say that he finds the song printed in a publication (printed in Soho) of minstrel tunes from the third quarter of the 19th century, with a note on the bottom of the page saying: "Believed to have come from a melody by [the German classical composer] Gluck. The tune briefly entered the British top 20 (rising as high as #9) at the end of 1982 when Malcom McLaren, promoter of the punk bands Sex Pistols and Bow Wow Wow, recorded a version consisting of himself vocalizing dance calls to a music track by East Tennessee's Roan Mountain Hilltoppers (led by septugenarian fiddler Joe Birchfield) and assorted synthesized sounds, scratching and other arranged noise.

Strong suggestions of a Germanic origin for the melody have been made by Samuel Bayard (1944), and it has been pointed out that the melody for "Buffalo Gals" is very closely related to a German dance tune called the "Artländer Konter," said to have been very popular in Germany in the 1800's found by Bayard (1944) in Eliazbeth Burchenal's volume Folk-Dances of Germany (1938, p. 21), while three Yugoslav sets he finds strongly resemble his American (Pennsylvania-collected) versions, which serves for his to heighten the suggestion that the tune originally came from Germany (these latter are located in Fr. S. Kuhac, Juznoslovjenske Narodne Popievke (Zagreb), II, (1879), pp. 222–224, Nos. 686–688, to a song entitled "Liepa Mara"). See also the similar German version "Siebensprung" (Seven Leaps) or "Wecke kann de Swewnsprünge." That the melody has also spread into France is evinced by its presence in J. Tiersot, Chansons Populaires Recueillies dans les Alpes Francaises, p. 532. tune 1, a 'Monferine.' Cf. also J.B. Bouillet, Album Aunergnat, p. 25, first part of the 'Bourree d'Issoire.'"

In East Lothian, Scotland, "Buffalo Gals" was the tune invariably played for the country dance called The Lads of Glasgow, which was performed at regional kirns until the 1930's and in some isolated areas until World War II (Flett & Flett, 1964). The melody was better known in East Lothian as tune for the bothy ballad "Whar'll bonnie Annie lie."

A slightly 'crooked' (in the second strain) version was printed by J.A. Boucher in his Le Répertoire du Violoneux (Montreal?, 1933, No. 9) under the title "Reel Robert."

A feature of the tune has long been the multiplicity of place names attached to it in the title. Bronner notes it has been called "Jimtown Gals," "Brown Town Gals," "Alabama Gals," "Roundtown Gals," "Johnstown Gals," "Lushbaugh Girls," "Louisiana Gals," "Maxwell Girl," "Bowery Gals," "Cincinnati Gals," "Hagtown Gals," and "Hagantown Gals," as well as "Buffalo Gals." He speculates that Buffalo (New York) became the primary city name attached to the title because it was a "common terminal point for the minstrel circuit from New York city to Albany across to westernmost Buffalo, the city's name and its frontier reputation made it an easy and appropriate substitute for performances of 'Lubly Fan'" (p. 216). Ceclia Conway, in African Banjo Echoes in Appalachia (1995), notes that the term "Buffalo" was used by Native Americans to refer to blacks (as in "Buffalo Soldiers").

As I was walking down the street,
Down the street, down the street;
A pretty little girl I chanced to meet,
Oh, she was fair to see.

I asked her if she would have some talk,
Have some talk, have some talk;
Her feet covered up the whole sidewalk,
As she stood close to me.

I Asked her would she have a dance,
Have a dance, have a dance;
I thought that I might get a chance
To shake a foot with her.

I'd like to make that gal my wife,
Gal my wife, gal my wife;
I would be happy all my life,
If I had her by my side.

Chorus: Buffalo gals, ain't you comin' out tonight,
Ain't you comin' out tonight, ain't you comin' out tonight;
Buffalo gals, ain't you comin' out tonight
And dance by the light of the moon. .... ... [Ford]

See also Kentucky fiddler Sammy Walker's (1910-1987, Barren County) reel-time variant "Buck Creek Girls (2)."

Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Frank Potter (Nowata County, Oklahoma) [Thede]; Hornellsville Hillbillies, 1943 (New York State) [Bronner]; caller George Van Kleeck (Woodland Valley, Catskill Mtns., New York) [Cazden]. Irvin Yaugher Jr., Mt. Independence, Pennsylvania, October 19, 1943 (learned from his father) [Bayard, 1944]; 10 different fife and violin sources from southwestern Pa. given by Bayard, 1981.

Printed sources : - Adam (Old Time Fiddlers' Favorite Barn Dance Tunes), St. Louis, 1928; No. 12, p. 6. Bayard (Hill Country Tunes), 1944; No. 1A. Bayard (Dance to the Fiddle), 1981; No. 167A-J, pp. 113–117. J.A. Boucher (Le Répertoire du Violoneux), Montreal?, 1933, No. 9 (appears as "Reel Robert"). Bronner (Old Time Music Makers of New York State), 1987; No. 20, p. 90. Cazden (Dances from Woodland), 1945; p. 13. Ford (Traditional Music in America), 1940; p. 53. Jarman (Old Time Fiddlin' Tunes); No. or p. 3. Kennedy (Fiddler’s Tune-Book, vol. 1), 1951; No. 56, p. 28. Miller & Perron (101 Polkas), 1978; No. 26 (polka). Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 1), 1994; p. 40 (two versions). Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 145 (appears as "Old Johnnie Walker"). Scott (English Song Book), 1926; p. 74. Shaw (Cowboy Dances), 1943; p. 382. Sweet (Fifer's Delight), 1964; p. 12. Thede (The Fiddle Book), 1967; p. 119. Westrop (120 Country Dances), c. 1860's; No. 68.

Recorded sources : - Flying Fish FF 90468, Critton Hollow – "Great Dreams" (1988). Missouri State Old Time Fiddlers' Association, Vee Latty (1910-1956) – "Fever in the South." W. Virginia University SA-2, "Edden Hammons Collection II", Disc 1 (1999).

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Hear Alabama fiddler Paisley Hagood's version at Slippery Hill [2]

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