Polka Style Music

In this Polka style music post we are going to identify elements of why this niche is so unique. There is much to learn from the Eastern European...

 

In this Polka style music post we are going to identify elements of why this niche is so unique. There is much to learn from the Eastern European immigrants that traveled to the United States to bring us Polka. Most of these communities settled in areas around the Great Lakes and Midwest regions. Take note of the unique elements of this distinctive musical style as we get a sample of what Polka music really is. 


What Is Polka Music?

Polka music is a generally lively type of music that has Bohemian folk origins. This music is largely tied to its associate dance style which is most commonly characterized by a three quick steps and a hop. As a result, this upbeat music quickly gets people dancing rather quickly. Polka music itself is performed in a meter of 2/4 time at approximately 120 to 124 beats per minute. In a traditional Chicago style Polka band it would be common to see instrumentation such as a trumpet or two, accordion, a tuba, a concertina, drums, bass and sometimes a clarinet, saxophone or fiddle. Unlike other types of ensembles, the accordion is the foundational instrument for a Polka group.

Polka Origins

Polka is a form of European dance music that has Czech roots. It comes from the Bohemia culture which is an area within the Czech Republic. This music is generally associated with the German celebration of Oktoberfest however is more popular in the regions of Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

This style of music was created by a Czech farm worker named Anna Slazak around 1830. Polka comes from the Czech term "polska" for Polish girl. Polka means "Polish Woman" in Polish.

Over time Eastern Europeans decided to migrate to the United States and settled in the areas the Great Lakes and Midwest.

Dance

Polka's distinctive dance style often has couples covering a significant amount dance floor in a circular formation. The actual term "polka" is believed to come the Czech "polka" which refers to a "field" or "half step." This ties into the dance style that involves three quick steps and a hop.



Polka Styles

Polka styles vary based on their regional influence.

Chicago style (Also known as the North American Polish Style) - This style of Polka originates from the Chicago area, specifically in the Polish and Czech minority communities. This group would often consist of a trumpet, accordion, a tuba, a concertina, drums, bass and sometimes a clarinet, saxophone or fiddle.

Slovenian style - This style of Polka has its roots in the Cleveland area. The music often uses the button box accordion, chromatic accordion and piano accordion.

Dutchmen style - This is the classic "Oom-Pah" tuba driven Polka.

Conjunto style - This style of Polka is heavily influenced by performers in northern Mexico and Texas.

Alternative San Francisco Style - This is a hybrid form of Rock and Polka.

Conclusion

Polka brings people together. It is a upbeat music, dance and culture that is here to stay and is loved around the world. 


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