Category Archives: Song

Fraternity House Song


General Information about Item:

  • Verbal folklore
  • Informant R.C.
  • Date Collected: 05/18/2020

Informant Data:

  • The informant is a current Dartmouth student. He is a member of the class of 2022 and is affiliated.

Contextual Data:

  • Cultural Context: When rushing a fraternity, there is a sense of pride and community associated with the house and its members. Members are seen as “brothers” and the house is the “home” of its members. The singing of a song honors these two traditions.
  • Social Context: The collective act of singing together has always been associated with the idea of community. The singing of a house song is a social activity new and old members participate in to foster this principle.


  • There is a song made up by the fraternity members, that is sung to honor the house and its members. This is meant to help new members feel welcomed during the rush process (or directly after).


Collector’s Comments:

  • The use of a song to help new members feel part of a new community is not uncommon. I thought it was interesting to see the same type of welcoming folklore displayed in this process.

Collector’s Name: Charlie Wade


  • Verbal Folklore
  • Fraternity Rush
  • New Members

Miley Cyrus – “Party in the U.S.A.”

General Information about Item:

  • Music Folklore – Song
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Informant: Ziqi Wang
  • Date Collected: 02-23-2018

Informant Data:

  • Ziqi Wang is a male student in the Dartmouth College Class of 2018.  He was born in China and emigrated to the United States when he was 9 years old; he has spent most of his life in the Hanover, NH area, having attended Hanover High School. He studies economics and environmental science at Dartmouth, and intends to pursue a career in business in Boston, MA after graduation. Ziqi has been an active member of Dartmouth’s Club Swim Team since the fall of 2014.

Contextual Data:

  • Cultural Context: In order to bolster team spirit and unity, the Dartmouth Club Swim Team has a variety of fun traditions which engage the members in play. This particular ritual has the members of the team sing an adolescent pop song, which has ironically gained fame with the college community, allowing the team to mutually engage in an absurd, almost child-like song. This bonding through humor and adolescent fun helps to solidify the team.
  • Social Context: This musical tradition was explained in a one-on-one interview with the informant at Baker-Berry Library. It is performed before meets, allowing team members to channel any anxiety they may be feeling into a care-free, child-like exercise, relaxing them.


  • Before meets, members of the Dartmouth Club Swim Team get together to sing Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.”

Music Video for “Party in the U.S.A.”:


  • “Before meets, people like to sing this Miley Cyrus song – ‘Party in the U.S.A.’ I forgot exactly how it goes, but it’s a fun, easy way for people to shake off the nerves. They know like, maybe half of the lyrics. It’s such a silly song.”

Informant’s Comments:

  • “It’s a great song, I love it.”

Collector’s Comments:

  • This song is quite catchy

Collector’s Name: Ashwath Srikanth

Tags/Keywords: Music Folklore, Ritual, Miley Cyrus, Swimming

Campfire Songs

Genre Verbal/Customary Lore, Song, Ritual

Language English

Country of Origin United States

Informant Rory Gawler, ‘05

Date Collected February 26, 2018

Collected by Adrian Padilla

Informant Data

Rory Gawler is the Assistant Director of the Dartmouth Outdoor Programs Office. He grew up in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and listened to classic rock growing up. Upon arriving at Dartmouth, Rory got into hiking, and found the environment to be a huge contrast to Toronto. In the city, he often found himself bored, and upon coming to Dartmouth, he joined the Dartmouth Outing Club. He also began to listen to folk music instead of rock music. He is particularly fond of the Kentucky Bluegrass Boys, and Pete Seeger, who he calls the grandfather of sing-alongs. Folk music was, to him, something that he could do in a group, and this gave him a strong sense of place.

Contextual Data

Song and dance are joyful expressions of human culture, particularly in the case of folk and bluegrass music. Campfire songs, which are a form of folk music, are often associated with land, a sense of place, environmental conservation, as well as the kind of people who are excited about the outdoors. Folk as a whole is a participatory genre of music, meant to be sung by anyone. Most of the groups who have sung folk and campfire songs were historically low skill, low training groups. These campfire songs can be considered an intersection between folklore, and nature.


Outdoor activities, including hiking, include campfire songs. These are usually sung in unison, even if off-key.

My Little Tea Pot

Title: My little tea pot

Informant data:

  • Chlöe Conacher was born on May 9, 1997. She grew up in Toronto Ontario and currently lives in the Bay Area California. She has an older brother and a younger sister. She went to a private school in Canada for the first half of her life but then went to a private high school in California. Her parents are both Canadian. Chlöe is majoring in neuroscience and has an interest in soccer dancing and art. She currently attends Dartmouth College and is in the class of 2019.

Contextual context:

  • Social Context:
    • While telling me this nursery rhyme Chlöe was extremely happy and excited. This was one of her favorite nursery rhymes as a child. She heard this nursery rhyme from her parents. She also heard and shared this nursery rhyme during family reunions and holidays. She has many younger cousins and so every time their family would gather she would play with them and sing nursery rhymes- Little Tea Pot was a favorite.  Chlöe didn’t just sing this nursery rhyme, she performed it as well. While singing the short song she would act out motions. She would place one arm on her hip and one hand bent over and away from her head like a tea kettle spot. She would then embody the tea kettle and bend her body to the side and act as though she was pouring tea out of her spout. As she grew up she would teach her little cousins this and watch them dance along to the rhyme
  • Cultura Context:
    • When Chlöe was little the nursery rhyme was just a fun game to play with her family and friends. She used to get excited when she heard the tune of this song come one because she loved the dance and the actions that go with it so much. She continues this tradition of singing and dancing to this rhyme with her cousins. The last time she heard this was the summer of 2017 when she had a family reunion and her “little cousins tried to master and perform the dance for the older cousins.” Today the nursery rhyme has less of a literal meaning but more of an underlying meaning. Today she remembers this as a song that brought her family together and allowed them to enjoy each other’s company.



“I’m a little tea pot short and stout, here is my handle and here is my spout.

When I get steamed up hear me shout, tip me over and pour me out!”

Informant Opinon:

Although this is a short song to sing and an easy one to learn she enjoyed the simplicity it brought to her families lives. She understands that this could be considered a basic nursery rhyme as other families might perform these traditions as well, but to her this was all about family and getting together.

Collectioner’s opinion:

She grew up around this folklore and she grew up sharing this piece of rhyme with so many of her family members that it doesn’t matter if this is a classic American nursery rhyme. The unique value it holds to her is indicative of how each nursery rhyme means something different to every person who is involved in sharing this nursery rhyme.

Collected by Avery Schuldt

Hot Cross Buns

Title: Hot Cross Buns

General Information:

  • Verbal lore: song
  • English
  • American
  • Children
  • Rhyme

Informant data:

  • Mariel Gordon is freshman at dartmouth, graduating in 2021. She was born and raised in Dallas Texas. She attended a public high school in Plano Texas. Mariel plays soccer at Dartmouth and has played her entire life. When Mariel told me this piece of folklore she was happy to retell the story. Mariel has one older brother who also was told this nursery rhyme by their parents. Mariel is interested in film and learning more about directing film as well as sociology.

Contextual Context:

  • Social Context:
    • I collected thing nursery rhyme in the library during on a Thursday and there was not a lot of people there so Mariel was very open with her sharing. The last time Mariel heard this nursery rhyme was about 5 years, when she was around 12. Her mom and her dad always sang to her Hot Cross Buns before eating breakfast on most Sundays.  She would eat pancakes and eggs on Sunday’s when she would sing this nursery rhyme. The only thing that really connected her to this nursery rhyme was the breakfast that came with it. She shared this nursery rhyme with her brother and her little cousins. She also heard this nursery rhyme when she was learning to play the base in her middle school orchestra.This was the first song she completely learned how to play on the base.
  • Cultural Context:
    • The two different contexts to the song has given Mariel two different ways to view this Nursery rhyme. She originally remembered the song as a happy memory, but then when she heard the song in school and associated the song with learning the base she grew to dislike the sone. Different contexts can make people change their opinions on nursery rhymes.


Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, one a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns”

Informants opinion:

  • “I used to love this nursery rhyme as a child because it signified food, but as soon as I was forced to learn it and become good at laying this nursery rhyme on the base I hated it. It became a chore”

Collectors comments:

  • It is important to recognize the shift in opinion of the rhyme. Rhymes are not always beloved songs children here. People hear them all the time and become over absorbed in them and learn to dislike them. It was unfortunate that a childhood memory got ruined but another bad memory.

Collected by Avery Schuldt





Collected by Avery Schuldt

Jack be Nimble

General Information abut Item:

  • Rhyme
  • Ritual
  • Children
  • American
  • English

Informant data:

  • Mollie McGorisk was born on March 7, 1998 in Detroit Michigan. She attended a large public school that was a part of the Detroit public school program. She has one older brother and one younger brother and lives with her parents. She has played soccer her entire life and has been actively involved in other sports teams like basketball. She likes the stay active and get involved with art. She currently attends Dartmouth College and is in the class of 2020. She is interested in majoring in engineering and physics.

Contextual Data:

  • Social Context:
    • When Mollie was recalling her story, she started to think of home and all the great traditions that she did as a child. For her, this nursery rhyme was a tradition. It was passed down from generation to generation. Her parents taught her the nursery rhyme Jack be Nimble. When Mollie was telling me this story she became happy and sad at the same time. She “loves sharing this tradition with other people because it gives [her] joy to bring people into her life.” When Mollie performs this nursery rhyme it is not just sung, but it is acted out. Every week or so her mom would read her this nursery rhyme before bed. Instead of just singing it to her, her mom would set up a candle and Mollie would jump over the candle and into bed Mollie jumped over the candle stick multiple time before going to bed and the final jump would land her in bed and her mom would tuck her into sleep. When Mollie grew up it was her turn to teach this action to her younger brother and when he grows up it is his duty to tell this nursery rhyme to his younger cousins.
  • Cultural Context:
    • All in all, Mollie’s nursery rhyme, Jack be Nimble, reminded her of her childhood and the relationship between her mom and her brothers. This nursery rhyme made Mollie think of her home and the traditions that she used to be a part of as a child and that have stopped over the years. She hopes to bring this nursery rhyme and the tradition of jumping over the candle to her family in the future.


“Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, jack jump over the candle stick”

Associated Item:

Collector’s Comments:

Molly seemed to get happy when sharing this story. She kept saying how she loved this nursery rhyme and how it brought great memories to her. I think that this since this was part of her nightly traditions it was hard for her to let go. Also, as she grew older and didn’t need a story before bed she grew out of this tradition and forgot about it until I asked about her childhood nightly rituals. This is considered a tradition because it was passed from mother to daughter and brother.

Collected by: Avery Schuldt

Lodj Dinner

Title: Lodj Dinner

Informant info: Informant Name: James Thompson, Location: Hanover, NH, Date: 5/16/16 Dartmouth student, male, Class of 2017, went on Cabin Camping Trip

Type of lore: Customary (Prank & Songs/Dances)

Language: English

Country of Origin: U.S.

Social / Cultural Context:  Experienced at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge during the latter part of first-year trips

Transcript: I remember the lodj dinner was a pretty big event. When they led us into the lodj and it was completely pitch black. They told us that the power was out and that we would have to hold on to each other’s shoulders to help guide us to our seats. I totally fell for it, for some reason I didn’t think of the fact that a cabin probably had windows which would let in light, which they had covered to make sure it was completely dark. So we all went in, cha-cha style, holding each others shoulders until we were in our seats in the dining hall. At that point the all the lights suddenly came on and there were a bunch of people dressed up in flair all over the place, some were literally standing on ledged above us and hanging on poles and stuff and they all broke into a song and dance performance. It was pretty incredible to be honest. The whole meal followed a similar theme. Each course was presented and served to us as part of an elaborate song and dance routine, even the clean up process was a song. That was really a great time.

Informant’s comments:  i’m not really sure what the point of it was other than to have some fun and entertain us.  That’s basically it.

Collector’s comments:  See overall comments on trips pranks

Tags/Keywords: Lodj, Moosilauke, Dinner, trips, song, dance, prank


Safety Talk

Title: Safety Talk

Informant info: Alfredo Gurmendi, Location: Hanover, NH, Date: 5/20/16, Dartmouth Student, male, Class of 2018, went on Hiking 2 trip

Type of lore: Customary/Verbal (Prank)

Language: English

Country of Origin: U.S.

Social / Cultural Context: Experienced during First-year trips, on the campus of Dartmouth College in Sarner Underground before leaving on actual trip

Transcript: After everyone gets checked in in front of Robo and we are led by the H-Croo members in dances and songs and do some ice-breakers with our group, we were told by our trip leaders that there will be a safety talk and are then led to Sarner Underground. Our trip leaders tell us that there will be a quiz based on the material covered in the safety talk and that we won’t be allowed to go on the trip unless we pass it. Once we get to the little room where the talk is going to be held, we all sit down and a couple of upper classmen come on stage and begin to tell us how important it is that we pay attention to the following talk because it may save our lives. They begin talking in a very serious and matter of fact manner about things like splints and first-aid stuff and some kids are actually sitting there taking notes to make sure they don’t fail the quiz. Suddenly, however, the people on stage break into song and dance and a full-length performance follows including a bunch of parody versions of popular songs, including a version of the “Frozen” song about going to bathroom in the woods. The show closed with the Dartmouth version of “Welcome Home” and a full-fledged dance party ensues at the end of the performance. It was a brilliant prank that definitely set the tone for the whole trips experience. Here we are, a bunch of kids that have no clue what to expect from this new place, ready to believe anything we are told and absolutely terrified of failure, so of course we’ll totally buy into the idea of a mandatory quiz. But then the complete reversal really breaks the ice and makes you feel more comfortable in this new community.

Informant’s comments: It really breaks the ice and makes you feel more comfortable in this new community

Collector’s comments: See overall comments on trips pranks

Tags/Keywords: Trips, Prank, Safety Talk, Verbal, Customary


Third Battalion

Title: Third Battalion

Informant info: Michael Rodriguez. Informant attends Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH as a United States Army Veteran. Informant enlisted in the Army in 2003 and was a member of the 1st Battalion 8th Marines Bravo Company, which is an infantry military unit. He was stationed out of camp Lejeune North Carolina. Informant served in Iraq from June 2004 to December 2004. He was awarded a Purple Heart. He was from a military family, as well. Informant is 31 years old.

Type of lore: Verbal Folklore, Myth, Song

Language: English

Country of Origin: USA

Social / Cultural Context: Informant was interviewed at Dartmouth College. Informant was asked about certain superstitions or rituals that they had experienced during their time in the military. The informant described a myth that the third battalion group being tougher than the other battalions, even though there was no difference between the battalions.

Associated file:


[I have recorded the item exactly how it was told to me in the interview]: “I was in the second battalion. There’s three battalions, like thats how they would separate all of these people that were coming in. Like, ‘hey you’re in the second battalion’ and then the next group that’ll come in… they sort of rotate between these battalions and the companies between them. There’s always this sort of idea that the third training battalion was a harder group of marines, if you came out of third battalion boot camp. But it’s really just a load of crap. They think they’re harder because they’re sort of in a different section of Parris Island, an older section. Where there’s more woods and stuff and i think thats it. But they think ‘well we’re kinda out in the woods by like 400 meters’… you know what I mean. It’s not like they’re out in the middle of nowhere. There’s just more trees.”

Informant’s comments: He did not believe in this tradition at all, but he believed that the soldiers in the third battalion strongly believed it.

Collector’s comments: Interesting how offended the informant seemed to be by the thought that their battalion was thought to be better than his for no good reason. Especially since he thought that boot camp was pretty easy for himself.

Tags/Keywords: Third Battalion, Military, Myth

Music as Communication among Peers

Music as Communication among Peers

Informant information:

Mary Kate resides in Andover, Massachusetts. She has a daughter who has an undiagnosed developmental disorder. Her daughter is nine years old and participates in the” My Own Voice” choir, a choir for children with special needs in Andover.

Type of lore: Customary

Genre: Children’s Folklore

Language: English

Country of Origin: United States of America

Social / Cultural Context:

Mary Kate and Neal’s daughter cannot speak even though she is now nine years old as a result of an undiagnosed developmental disorder. Among the challenges this presents, she often has a difficult time connecting with her peers. This video captures how she and her peers created a methods of sharing a common act on a daily basis.


Informant’s comments:

The “typical” girls that [our daughter] is friends with at school also use music and songs to connect to her. They make up dances to show the teacher and even have a secret handshake which is really an elaborate high five routine with some dance moves and a sing songy recital of the moves. I would say this is the most included that [she] has been in the classroom in a long while and it is through music and movement.

Collector’s comments: 

This seems to be a piece of true children’s folklore, the girls work on songs, dances and routines like this together. What makes this particular one special is how it is in an effort to communicate with the girl who has special needs in a way that she is capable of reciprocating. At the end of the video one girl raises her hands and begins to shake them, which symbolizes applause in American Sign Language.

Tags/Keywords: Music, Communication, Custom, Special needs, Children, Dance, American Sign Language