Today's post may have been more aptly named Buffalo Gals. After all, I can't help but think of that iconic scene in It's a Wonderful Life, when Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed attempt this song as a duet. Though, let's hope that your students do a better job with intonation than they did!
While deciding what to title my post this week, I came across some interesting historical information about this song. The first being that this song is known as both Alabama Gal and Buffalo Gals/Girls, along with a host of other possibilities. This is due to the fact that audiences of the time period would change the lyrics to suit their own locations.
According to Ballad of America, "As it was originally published in 1844, the song Lubly Fan beckoned a young woman of that name to come out and dance. Although credited to Cool White, the stage name of blackface minstrel John Hodges, it was most likely adapted from other song sources. The words were frequently localized as the popular song moved about the United States with traveling minstrel troupes: Charleston Gals, Bowery Gals, New York Gals, and Philadelphia Gals. By 1848, Buffalo Gals had become the preferred version."
You can make this history come alive for your students by having them replace "Alabama" with the name of your school or community. This week's video was created with exactly that activity in mind. Take a look to see what I mean!
To play off the history aspect of this song, you can also have your students decode rhythms. Once they've sung through the song a few times, write the lyrics out on your board or project the notation below onto your interactive white board. Be sure to scratch out "Alabama" and replace it with the name of your community. Then, ask your students if their community's name matches the rhythm of "Alabama". If not, ask them to decode the rhythm. You may want to skip showing them the actual notation if you haven't yet discussed the concept of cut-time.
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