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"The Camptown Races," Lyrics, Text Format
"The Camptown Races," Lyrics, Text Format

Uncommon syncopation, complete ascending tonic arpeggio, and whimsical verses are both challenging and fun!



  • Grade: Fifth
  • Origin: USA – Stephen Foster (1826-1864), first publication 1850
  • Key: D Major
  • Time: 2/4
  • Form: AAB – song: AB verse/refrain
  • Rhythm: advanced: | ti ti ti ti | ti ti ti (ti)
    | ti ta/ | syncopation, | ti/ ri ti ti | syncopation,
    | ti ti ti ti ri | syncopation, | ti ri ti ri ti (ti) | syncopation, | ta/ (ti) | ta/ ti | syncopation,
    | ti ti ti ri ti ri | ti ti ri ri ti ri ta | syncopation
  • Pitches: intermediate: Do Re Mi Fa So La Do
  • Intervals: intermediate: So\Mi/So (m3), Re/So (P4), Re/Fa (m3), Do/Mi/So/Do8 ascending tonic arpeggio (D), Do8\La/Do8 (m3)
  • Musical Elements: notes: half, dotted quarter, quarter, dotted eighth, eighth, sixteenth (flag/beam), pickup beat, repeat sign, syncopation, tonic arpeggio; style: energetically; note: first phrase ending on the supertonic (2, Re), second phrase ending picks up from the supertonic, passing it again before resolving to the tonic (1, Do)
  • Key Words: USA history, USA geography: Pennsylvania; westward expansion, American Minstrel, American Composers, tent city, whimsical song, comical song, hyperbole (exaggerated lyrics), folk tale, camptown, racetrack, horse race, caved, pocket full of tin, long-tail filly ( female horse), track, nag (very tired horse), blind horse, mud hole, bottom, ten foot pole, muley cow (without horns), bobtail (without a tail), bobtailed, flinged (tossed), railroad car, shooting star, ten-mile heat, repeat, money, tow-bag (gunny sack/burlap bag), bay (reddish color horse); contraction: I’ll (I will); abbreviations: stickin’ (sticking), goin’ (going)
  • Recorder: advanced: complete ascending tonic arpeggio (C Major), challenging syncopation, style: energetically

Also known as “Camptown Races” and “Goin’ to Run All Night.” Stephen Foster is known as the “father of American music.” Foster’s “camptown” experience occurred in Pennsylvania. A “camptown”, or “tent city” was a temporary accommodation familiar in many parts of the United States, especially along the rapidly expanding railroad network.

“The Camptown Races” 

1. The Camptown ladies sing this song
Doo-dah! Doo-dah!
Camptown racetrack five miles long,
Oh, the doo-dah day!
I come down there with my hat caved in,
Doo-dah! Doo-dah!
Come back home with a pocket full of tin
Oh, the doo-dah day!
Goin’ to run all night,
Goin’ to run all day.
I’ll bet me money on the bab-tailed nag,
Somebody bet on the bay.
The long-tail filly and the big black horse,
Doo-dah! doo-dah!
They fly the track and they both cut across,
Oh, the doo-dah day!
The blind horse stickin’ in a big mud hole,
Doo-dah! doo-dah!
Can’t touch bottom with a ten foot pole,
Oh, the doo-dah day!
3. Old muley cow comes onto the track,
Doo-dah! doo-dah!
The bobtail flinged her over his back,
Oh, the doo-dah day!
They fly along like a railroad car,
Doo-dah! doo-dah!
Running a race with a shooting star,
Oh, the doo-dah day!
4. See them flying on a ten-mile heat,
Doo-dah! doo-dah!
Round the racetrack, then repeat,
Oh, the doo-dah day!
I win my money on the bobtail nag,
Doo-dah! doo-dah!
I keep my money in an old tow-bag,
Oh, the doo-dah day!
Additional Formats (click to enlarge)
"The Camptown Races," Music Format
Click to Enlarge: "The Camptown Races," Rhythm Format
pitch numbers
Click to Enlarge: "The Camptown Races," Pitch Number Format
Click to Enlarge: "The Camptown Races," Solfeggio Format
letter names
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