Click to enlargeCamptown Races (brass quintet)

"What in the wide, wide world of sports is a-goin' on here?"

The more one learns about Stephen Foster, the more interesting and sad the story becomes. For nearly twenty years around the time of the Civil War, he wrote most of the popular songs published in the United States, yet died flat broke at the age of 37. He sold most of his songs to publishers for lump sums. Some he did not sell at all. Copyright and royalty laws being what they were at the time, up to five or more publishers would have competing editions of his songs in print, and other than whatever he could get up front, he rarely saw any money.

Published in 1850, this may have been Foster's most popular song. Foster came from the black-face minstrel show tradition, and the lyric is written in the slave dialect of that genre.

This arrangement begins with the "call to the post" bugle call, then romps through seceral keys on its way to the finish.

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De Camptown ladies sing dis song -- Doo-dah! doo-dah!
De Camptown racetrack five miles long -- Oh! doo-dah day!
I come down dah wid my hat caved in -- Doo-dah! doo-dah!
I go back home wid a pocket full of tin -- Oh! doo-dah day!

Chorus

Gwine to run all night! Gwine to run all day!
I'll bet my money on de bob-tail nag -- Somebody bet on de bay!

De long tail filly and de big black hoss -- Doo-dah! doo-dah!
Dey fly de track and dey both cut across -- Oh! doo-dah day!
De blind hoss sticken in a big mud hole -- Doo-dah! doo-dah!
Can't touch bottom wid a ten foot pole -- Oh! doo-dah day!

Chorus

Old muley cow come on to de track -- Doo-dah! doo-dah!
De bob-tail fling her ober his back -- Oh! doo-dah day!
Den fly along like a rail-road car -- Doo-dah! doo-dah!
Runnin' a race with a shootin' star -- Oh! doo-dah day!

Chorus

Seen dem flyin' on a ten mile heat -- Doo-dah! doo-dah!
Round de race track, den repeat -- Oh! doo-dah day!
I win my money on de bob-tail nag -- Doo-dah! doo-dah!
I keep my money in an old tow-bag -- Oh! doo-dah day!

Chorus

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MP3 sound sample: entire piece (synthesizer/midi).



CAMPTOWN RACES, by Stephen Foster, arranged by Tom Kirkland for brass quintet consisting of two trumpets, french horn, trombone, and tuba, comes in a pdf file of 609K, with a six-page score, five two-page parts, and a license page, seventeen pages in all. Performance time should be about 2:45.


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Last update: 27 September 2017