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Chicken scratch | Norteńo | Polka-mazurka | Slovenian-style polka

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Polka is a type of dance and genre of dance music; it originated in the middle of the 19th century in Bohemia, and is still a common genre of Czech folk music; it is also common both in Europe and in the Americas. In classical music, many polkas were composed by both Johann Strauss I and his son Johann Strauss II; a couple of well-known ones were composed by Bedrich Smetana and Jaromír Vejvoda, the author of Škoda lásky ("Roll Out the Barrel").

The polka (a 2/4-beat dance of Czech origin) should not be confused with the polska (a Swedish 3/4-beat dance with Polish roots); cf. also polka-mazurka. A related dance is the redowa.

Polkas are played in Hungary as well; in Hungarian they're called porkák (plural).



There are various styles of contemporary polka. Of the US types, the North American "Polish-style polka" has roots in Chicago, Illinois, and can be identified as 'Chicago honky' and 'Chicago push' styles. This 'push' version or style of Polka features accordion, concertina, bass, drums, and (almost always) two trumpets. The 'honky' variation of this style uses clarinet and one trumpet; accordion is almost never used in this setting. North American "Slovenian-style polka" is fast and features piano accordion, and is associated with Cleveland. North American "Dutchman-style" features an oom-pah sound, often with a tuba, and has roots in the American Midwest. "Conjunto-style" has roots in Northern Mexico and Texas, and is also called Norteńo. In the 1980s and 1990s several bands began to combine polka with various rock styles, sometimes referred to as "punk polka", "alternative polka" or "San Francisco-style".

In the pampas, there is another kind of polka (that is called polca). It is a very very fast beat, with a 3/4 compass. Instruments used: acoustic guitar (usually six strings, but sometimes seven strings), electric or acoustic bass (sometimes fretless), accordion (sometimes piano accordion, sometimes button accordion), and sometimes some percussion is used. The lyrics always praise the gaucho warriors from the past or tell about the life of the gaucho campeiros (provincial gauchos who keep the traditions).


The International Polka Association based in Chicago, Illinois works to preserve the cultural heritage of polka music and to honor its musicians through the Polka Hall of Fame.


  • Download a recording of "Jenny Lind", a polka from the Library of Congress' California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties Collection; performed by John Selleck (violin) on October 2, 1939 in Camino, California

Some polka artists

Slavko Avsenik
Big Lou and her Polka Casserole
Eddie Blazonczyk, Chicago push
Brave Combo, alternative, two-time Grammy Award winner
The Dynatones
The Polish Muslims, Detroit polka rock band
Lenny Gomulka & Chicago Push
Johnny Krizancic
Global Kryner, Austrian band/pop/jazz/polka
Harold Loeffelmacher, Dutchman/Oompah
Walter Ostanek, Canada, three-time Grammy Award winner, Slovenian-Canadian
Polkacide, San Francisco punk-polka band
Stanky and the Coal Miners, Nanticoke, PA
Stephanie, "America's Polka Sweetheart"
Jimmy Sturr, United States, fourteen Grammy Awards
Dick Suhay & His Cleveland All Stars
Lawrence Welk
"Weird Al" Yankovic
Frankie Yankovic, Slovenian-American
Norm Dombrowski and the Happy Notes
The Goose Island Ramblers
Stan Wolowic & The Polka Chips
Primus (band)
Plastyczny Ser Orkestra (Al Janik's Plastic Cheese Band)
The Backyardigans
The Polka Family

Polka Radio

Many communities have a dedicated polka station or a station that plays a daily/weekly polka show. If you live in the US or Canada, to find polka music on the radio in your city, a good site to visit is

See also

External links

Home | Up | Circle dance | Folk dance | Group dance | Polka | Ritual dance | Social dance | Tango

Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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