Home > Music > Campin' on de Ole Suwanee Site Map

Campin' on de Ole Suwanee

Music by Lee Orean Smith
Copyright 1899


Also available for download as an MP3 file.



The full title of this composition is "Campin' on de Ole Suwanee: A Characteristic March, Two Step, Polka or Cake Walk." The term "campin' " refers to camp meetings, or religious rallies that lasted for several days. Participants would camp nearby. Camp meetings also served as social events where young people met or salesmen and politicians canvassed the crowd. The musical genres of march, two-step, polka and cakewalk each motivate movement. John Phillip Sousa composed popular American marches in the late nineteenth century. "Two-step" refers to a type of music that is similar to a march in rhythmic and formal structure. The music is used for a ballroom dance of the same name. Polkas are also used for dancing, but are a bit faster than two-steps. "Cakewalk" refers to music used in a walking game where players compete for a cake. All of these types of music led to the development and popularity of ragtime. So which of these really apply to "Campin'"? In fact the composition combines elements of each. Perhaps the inclusion of so many kinds of music in the title was an elaborate marketing scheme. If so, it certainly worked! The sheet music is still available today in best-selling collections of ragtime music.

Credit: QuickTime audio file arranged and performed by Jeff Donovick for the Florida Center for Instructional Technology. Cover scan courtesy of the USF Libraries Digitization Center.


Home > Music > Campin' on de Ole Suwanee Site Map

Exploring Florida: A Social Studies Resource for Students and Teachers
Produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology,
College of Education, University of South Florida © 2008.