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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Draw Me A Bucket Of Water & Three Other African American Children's Singing Games

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases video examples of four African American singing games which may have been used as play party songs. One version of the lyrics for each of these songs is also included in this post.

The four featured examples are "Draw Me A Bucket Of Water", "Tideo" (Jingle At The Window", "Little Johnny Brown", and "Paw Paw Patch".

This post is presented for historical, folkloric, and recreational, and aesthetic reasons.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

[This post was previously titled "United States Play Party Songs & Other Singing Games."]

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INFORMATION ABOUT THIS POST
I purposely chose examples that are from African American culture. However, these games certainly were and still are performed by other Americans. That said, I believe that since the 1950s, these featured games - with the possible exception of "Paw Paw Patch" - or other singing games are rarely performed by any children or youth in the United States without adult initiation. These games may be taught to children and youth during school music classes, but I think even that is very rare.

It should be emphasized that these singing games were traditionally played by adults, teens, and children, In my opinion, including multiple age groups in the performance of these games increases the fun.

I use "singing games" as a general referent for recreational circle (ring) or line games that include singing or chanting. This category includes play-party songs. I'm including this larger referent because I'm not sure which of these examples were used as play-party songs.

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INFORMATION ABOUT PLAY-PARTY SONGS
Excerpt from http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/P/PL001.html
"The play-party developed out of the American frontier experience and continued in rural environs well into the twentieth century. A play-party is a social gathering in which young people "play" a game involving drama and swinging movements performed to singing and hand clapping, without instrumental accompaniment. The play-party evolved from children's games and grew up in an era when musical instruments were considered inappropriate for proper social occasions. Many churches in early American communities shunned the fiddle, which was often described as the "Devil's box." In the middle South and in the southern highlands, oral tradition preserved play-parties, and as pioneers migrated westward, they carried these traditions with them.

The play-party typically used a song like "Skip to My Lou" or "London Bridge" as a game, combined with music. Participants and sometimes bystanders sang the songs. Play-parties took the place of dance parties for children and adolescents where all other dancing was forbidden. Also popular in less restrictive communities, the play-parties continued into the 1930s as entertainment for young adults who could not afford to go to a public dance. As public schools developed, play-parties thrived on the playground. In the twentieth century playgrounds likely preserved many of the songs. Play-parties, common in most Oklahoma communities, only began to lose popularity in the 1950s."

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FEATURED VIDEOS
Video #1: Bilbrey Draw Me a Bucket of Water



LincolnMusic185, Uploaded on Apr 1, 2011
-snip-
"Draw Me A Bucket Of Water", also known as "Frog In The Bucket", is a game song from The United Kingdom. However, this particular version of "Draw Me A Bucket Of Water", and the others listed on this page that mention "Sister Sally" and/or "Frog in the bucket and I can't get him out" are African American adaptations of that United Kingdom game song. Specifically, these adaptations are from the African American traditions of the Gullah people of the Georgia Sea Islands.

Foremost among the people we can thank for keeping versions of this music alive is African American folklorist & Gospel singer Bessie Jones
(February 8, 1902 - July 17, 1984). Click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bessie_Jones for information about Bessie Jones.
-snip-
LYRICS - DRAW ME A BUCKET OF WATER
(Georgia Sea Islands singing game)

Draw Me a Bucket of Water
Draw me a bucket of water
For my lady’s daughter
We got none [one, two, three, four] in the bunch
We’re all [three, two, one] out the bunch
You go under, sister Sally.
Frog in the bucket and I can’t get him out
Frog in the bucket and I can’t get him out
Frog in the bucket and I can’t get him out.
Frog in the bucket and I can’t get him out.
-as posted on http://brooklynmusic.wordpress.com/2009/12/06/draw-me-a-bucket-of-water-
-snip-
Instructions:
Click http://www.newtunings.com/kidmid/DrawMeABucket.html for performance instructions that were posted by Deborah Jeter.

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Video #2: 3rd Grade Music-Singing Game Tideo (Fairmont Anaheim Hills Campus)



Uploaded by fairmontschools on Jun 16, 2011 [California]

In this music activity, students experience 16th note rhythms in 4/4 meter, they sing in tune to a wide-range melody, and they work as a team.
-snip-
LYRICS - TIDEO

Pass one window, Tideo.
Pass two windows, Tideo.
Pass three windows, Tideo.
Jingle at the window, Tideo

Tideo! Tideo!
Jingle at the window, Tideo
- lyrics as sung in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNBfj0PKkD0
-snip-
I believe that the word "Tideo" in this song is used as a name or nickname, Maybe it came from the name "Matilda" (Tilda)" but that's just a guess. This "Tideo" song is documented as coming from the Southern USA & my guess is that it is of African American origin.

It's possible that earlier versions of this game song substituted other names instead of always singing "Tideo". However, the word (or name) "Tideo" probably came from the word "dideo". That word is found in earlier (19th century) dance songs from the USA such as "Sail Away Lady" and "Lead A Man". My sense is that dideo was just an imitation of music notes. However, I believe that in later versions of "Sail Away Lady", "dideo" became "daddy o".

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Video #3: Johnny Brown



carolannf1 | April 05, 2010
Kids playing a game Called Little Johnny Brown
-snip-
LYRICS- LITTLE JOHNNY BROWN

Little Johnny Brown
Lay your comfort down
Little Johnny Brown
Lay your comfort down
Fold it in a corner,
Johnny Brown
Hoot! Hoot! Hoot!
Fold it in a corner,
Johnny Brown
Show us your motion
Johnny Brown
We can do your motion
Johnny Brown
Now choose a friend
Johnny Brown
[game starts again with the new "Johnny Brown"]
-elementary school age children; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jfLIALSuk4

Editor:
This is a modified version of the traditional "Little Johnny Brown" game song.* The children form a circle and walk counterclockwise around one person standing in the center. The counterclockwise walking is the same as that done in the game "Musical Chairs". On the words "fold it in a corner", the center person soots down and folds the small blanket and remains on her knees next to the blanket.

The phrase "Hoot! Hoot! Hoot! with its accompanying hip/butt switching and rhythmic jumping action was probably added just for fun. It doesn't appear that the person in the center does this.

On the words "show us your motion", the center person stands up and does a rhythmical dance step or another movement. On the words "we can do your motion" the other children attempt to exactly imitate the movements that the center person continues to do. One the words "now choose a friend", the center person arbitrarily walks toward a person forming the circle and gives her or him the blanket. That person becomes the new "Little Johnny Brown".

The former Johnny Brown takes that person's place in the circle. The new Johnny Brown moves to the center and the game immediately begins again.

Click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9x2wwJczuAg for another video of this game song as it was taught to adult students in what looks like a university music course.

When I taught this game, I used the name "Jenny Brown" when the person selected was a female. But it appears that the male name "Johnny" was traditionally used in this game song even when the person in the middle was a female.

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Video #4: Pawpaw Patch - Sean McCollough and Friends



Uploaded by seanmccolloughmusic on Dec 8, 2010

Recorded at the CD release party for Sean's family album, This Is Our House. Sean McCollough (banjo, vocals), Steph Gunnoe (guitar, vocals), Greg Horne (fiddle), Maria Williams (bass, vocals). Willa McCollough plus Roxie, Lucy and Eliza Abernathy (hand motions). Also featuring Will Durman in front of the stage with his wonderful contribution.
-snip-
LYRICS & PERFORMANCE INSTRUCTIONS FOR "PAW PAW PATCH"
This is the version of "Paw Paw Patch" that I remember learning as a child in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in the 1950s.

Where, oh where is dear little Susie?*
Where, oh where is dear little Susie?
Where, oh where is dear little Susie?
Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch.

Pickin up paw paws puttin em in the basket
Pickin up paw paws puttin em in the basket
Pickin up paw paws puttin em in the basket
Way down yonder in the paw paw patch
-snip-
* The name was changed to the name or nickname of the person playing that featured role (the person hiding from the rest of the group in the designated "paw paw patch".

I remember "Way Down Yonder In The Paw Paw Patch" as a movement game. I probably learned it from adults at summer "Vacation Bible School" and I recall only playing this game under adult initiative.

One girl was selected some way or the other to be "Susie", although I don't remember how. The rest of the children would then sing the verses in unison, looking for Susie and then picking up "paw paws" and putting them in our "make believe" baskets. I remember imagining those baskets to look like Easter baskets.

Around 2002, I taught this song to children who participated in the Alafia (ah LAH fee ah) Children's Ensemble game song groups that I faciliated in two Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area communities. However, I changed "paw paw patch" to "apple trees" because apples were much more familiar to those children and to me than paw paws. I still am not sure what "paw paws" look like or taste like.

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RELATED LINKS
Click http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=25367&messages=8 for additional versions of "Draw Me A Bucket Of Water".

Click http://www.kshs.org/p/kansas-historical-quarterly-kansas-play-party-songs/12756 for another version of "Draw Me A Bucket Of Water" and other play party songs that were performed in Kansas.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND THANKS
My thanks to the composers & performers of these play-party songs, and to the performers on these videos.

Thank you for visiting this page.

Viewer comments are welcome.

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