Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Vaudeville Song

"Coontown Troubles" was written in 1919 by Bugbee and Berg, as music to be performed 'black face' on the Vaudeville stage. As such, the music and its theatrical performance can be considered one of the many ways American racial stereotyping surfaced in those times.

The sheet music is prefaced with suggestions as to how to stage and interpret the music.:

"To make this song more effective, all should be dressed in odd or outlandish costumes. They should carry dilapidated satchels and bags of all descriptions, and should appear very sad and depressed.
"During chorus they should appear to weep, using large bandana handkerchiefs. As they sing last two lines of the chorus, they appear to brighten a little.
"One character may represent Josephus Johnson, and another, Uncle Rastus, and each act very sad as their names and troubles are mentioned. All walk off with baggage at last chorus."

Cover (Click each page to enlarge and read song lyrics, if you like. Click again to enlarge even more.))

Page One

Page Two


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