Campfire songs with a baseline
September 7, 2019 9:06 AM   Subscribe

I love singalong campfire songs where the groups sing different parts. Can you give examples, with links?

I like the kind where one group sings a repeated chant, and the other group sings a solo overtop.
Some examples (unfortunately, they often seem to have problematic colonial histories, whyy):
Zulu Warrior (chief, chief, chief)
My Paddle's Keen and Bright (dip dip and swing)
Holly holly hay (toomba ta toomba)
The Lion Sleeps Tonight (a wimbawe)

And I like songs where the group is divided, and each section sings their part:
Fish and chips and vinegar - Don't throw your junk - One bottle of pop
Old Lady Leary - Fire Fire - Pour on water - Save my children - Jump lady jump.

And I like call-and repeat songs, where the leader sings each line and the group copies it back:
The Other Day I Met A Bear
Old Hiram's Goat

Can you suggest more of these kinds of songs?
If you can provide links to people singing the songs, that would be helpful.
posted by nouvelle-personne to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: “I Love the Mountains” with the boom-de-yada part repeating as the bass line.
posted by mbrubeck at 10:07 AM on September 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Ging Gang Gooli
posted by essexjan at 11:20 AM on September 7, 2019

Best answer: Repeat after me songs are my favorites! We just went to family camp at my girl scout camp and sang some great ones.

Oh! A milkshake
It's a sixties party from a sixties movie
The Princess Pat
Get Loose, Get Funky
The Littlest Worm
Boom Chicka Boom
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:25 AM on September 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Going on a bear hunt
Down by the bay, where the watermelon grows
Old lady who swallowed a fly
posted by Ftsqg at 11:26 AM on September 7, 2019

Best answer: I'm a primary school music teacher and love this type of song too! They're brilliant for making impressive-sounding music from relatively simple material.

My personal favourite (even if it's a little bit sombre) is "Ah, Poor Bird!". Another one I used a lot last year during the centenary of the end of WWI was "Pack Up Your Troubles/Long Way To Tipperary".

For reference, the keywords you need to search are:

- Round (or) Canon (or) Catch: these all mean singing the same song, but groups (or individuals) starting successively.

- Ground (or) Passagalia (lots of variant spellings): one group (or individual) singing the same bass line over and over with successive different melodies on top, sometimes melodies turn into counter-melodies, so you can have three, four or more lines working together.

- Quodlibet (or) Mashup: Two separate melodies which fit together. There's also a whole separate subclass of Quodlibet where two songs with innocent-sounding lyrics combine into one extremely rude one!
posted by dogsbody at 11:46 AM on September 7, 2019 [8 favorites]

Best answer: My favorite of these is a song from the Unitarian Universalist supplemental hymnal called "Meditation on Breathing," composed by Sarah Dan Jones.

Here's a recording: Meditation on Breathing

It starts with the lowest tones. They sing "breathe in, breathe out" on middle C. After a few iterations of this, the middle part begins: "When I breathe in, I breathe in peace. When I breathe out, I breathe out love." After a few repeats, the highest voices join. They sing the same words as the middle, but their part is a descant.

It's not really fun campfire vibe but more like wow, we just created something profound.
posted by tuesdayschild at 3:39 PM on September 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Oh I just heard this one on the weekend and it makes a lovely round, especially for kids
posted by Ftsqg at 4:23 PM on September 7, 2019

Best answer: Barrett's Privateers is a Canadian favourite. If your chorus singers enjoy shouting "God damn them all!" this one is great fun and has some delightful gory imagery in the lyrics.
posted by Jane the Brown at 7:13 PM on September 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Summer camp flashbacks:

Rose, rose, rose red/Wedding bells. We sang this one with an extra round with the same tune, reference to God removed though, just the "til we meet again" part.
Rufus Rustus/Chicken song
There was a tree, as a repeat after me.
I'm going to sing/swing low/when the saints
Frere Jacques/Are you sleeping
Sipping cider
posted by Cuke at 7:52 PM on September 7, 2019

Best answer: My Aunt Came Back
My Momma Don't Wear No Socks (When I was in Girl Scout camp, instead of "My momma," we used a different leader's name with each verse.)
posted by SisterHavana at 9:29 PM on September 7, 2019

Best answer: As someone who has enjoyed these songs since childhood, I was pleased to find Rise Up Singing and Rise Again as songbooks and more. Here’s more details on what they have catalogued:
posted by childofTethys at 2:05 AM on September 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: What dogsbody says about song forms should help you search. As I know them, your first set of songs are also rounds, exactly like your second set. You must have just learned them in a version where they were just sung as separate sections. So, search for "rounds."

Some examples (unfortunately, they often seem to have problematic colonial histories, whyy):

Because the singing of rounds around campfires is tied up with the problematic colonial history of the camping movement itself.

posted by Miko at 4:00 PM on September 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

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