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The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > Florida Folklife from the WPA Collections

[Detail] Fishermen. Key West, Florida

Dance

When you hear the term dance music, what comes to your mind? What characteristics of music make it suitable as an accompaniment to dancing? How important is the rhythm or the beat of a song? How important is the tempo or speed? How important is the melody or arrangement of tones to create a musical phrase?

The Florida Folklife collection includes a number of dance songs representing different cultures:

Listen to each recording and read the notes provided on each. Answer these questions for each dance song.

  • Where did this dance song originate? Which of Florida's cultural groups does it represent?
  • How would you describe the rhythm of this song? The tempo? The melody? What is your overall impression of the song?
  • What kind of dance do you think this song accompanied? Use the information provided as well as your response to the song in answering the question.

Think about all the songs as you answer these two questions:

  • How are the five songs alike? How are they different? Do you see any similarities with the music that young people dance to today? Explain your answer.
  • What do the songs suggest about the cultural diversity of Florida in the late 1930s and early 1940s? Do you think the same degree of diversity in dance music would be found in Florida today? Why or why not? How could find out if your hypothesis is correct?