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Q: Hambone history/technique ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Hambone history/technique
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: blathrop2000-ga
List Price: $4.00
Posted: 18 Nov 2004 19:01 PST
Expires: 18 Dec 2004 19:01 PST
Question ID: 430900
Dear Google Answers,

My friend and I are interested in the technique of chest/thigh
slapping stereotypically performed by hillbillies and mountain-folk.
We think that it is called a "hambone." We'd appreciate any
information on the technical craft of the hambone, some brief history
on the subject, and, if possible, some kind of video available on the

Ben and Dan
Subject: Re: Hambone history/technique
Answered By: tlspiegel-ga on 19 Nov 2004 11:03 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi blathrop2000,

Thank you for a very interesting question.  :)

Hambone Percussion

"Hambone" is a name for a particular way of using body percussion to
accompany songs with very rhythmic combinationds. It involves many
body percussion sounds, in addition to the usual stamp, pat, clap and

Some of these are: 

Patting the chest with alternating hands 
Patting one's open mouth or cheeks (amount of open area in mouth determines pitch) 
Patting the front, back and sides of the legs. 
Slapping for arms and elbows 
Alternately patting one thigh with one hand, then coming up and
patting the palm of the other hand which is being held, palm down a
few inches above one's thigh.
Alternately patting one hand with the other hand (Clap right hand on
left palm, then left hand on right palm).


I found the most information by watching and listening to the video on this page!


(click on "Watch Video" Link underneath photo)

"It was really a matter of weeks that I developed the basic hambone
style and sound, but it was really over the years that I developed
more of the hambone dancing."

In his high-energy show of "Hambone, Hamtech Bring on the Groove,"
performing artist Derique retells the story of how African-American
slaves were deprived of drums and contributed to dance through other
means, namely Hambone, a traditional form of body percussion. In the
Spark "Solo Acts" episode, Derique's passion for passing down this
history becomes a celebration of music, dance, circus and high-tech


North American Dance - Hambone


Video Clips (MPEG)

John O'Keefe has supplied the following files, which were taken from
WNEW-TV's retrospective program "Forty Years of Fine Tuning". Sandy
talks about how Hambone came to be, followed by early black-and-white
footage and then a color clip featuring Hambone and the Hamboneers!

(click on the MPEG links)

Clip 1  MPEG 
Clip 2  MPEG 
Clip 3  MPEG 


Best regards,
blathrop2000-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $1.00
Your answer was quicker than Derique's hambone style! Much thanks.

Subject: Re: Hambone history/technique
From: tlspiegel-ga on 20 Nov 2004 14:09 PST
Hi ben,

I know, that was a *long clip* by Derique.  :)  

Thank you for the 5 star rating and tip!  I enjoyed the research -
interesting stuff.

Best regards,
Subject: Re: Hambone history/technique
From: tlspiegel-ga on 20 Nov 2004 16:19 PST
Hi ben,

I also found the following, which might be of interest to you.

"African Americans danced during slavery during the long awaited three
day Christmas holiday, at corn husking gatherings, at Saturday night
"frolics", or whenever their slave master commanded so, even after a
long sunup to sun down day of back breaking work. One singer usually
called out the words to these "corn ditties". The "caller" might play
a fiddle (violin) or banjo.  If no instruments were available or even
if there were instruments,  a caller could use the percussive sounds
of body patting and clapping, and foot stomping that he and others
created to serve as the music or enhance the music for the dances.
Body patting was referred to as "pattin Juba''. "Juba" was the name of
a Caribbean/USA Black social dance that originated in Africa as a
religious dance. Much later, "pattin Juba" came to be called "hambone"
and 'hand jive", although "hambone" was just one form of "pattin
Juba". In the 1950s and 1960s, the  Hambone beat was called the "Bo
Diddley" beat, after an African American Blues and early R&B singer
who used the Hambone beat and adapted the Hambone rhyme in a lot of
his recorded songs. "


Click to next page for more on Hambone


Bo Diddley by Bo Diddley

"Although the riff used in this is ascribed to Bo Diddley (the "Bo
Diddley Beat), it didn't originate with him. It goes back to West
Africa -- American slaves patted the rhythms on their bodies as they
were denied access to their traditional drums (many pre-Civil War
slaveholders were afraid of them being used for communication).
"Hambone" became part of the African-American musical tradition."


Best regards,

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