“The Westphalia Waltz” ~ such lovely shmaltz
This is also played in the keys of C and Bb Major. I’ve given it as I first learned it, and ‘basic’. It is a joy to dance to and to play and I can’t help but smile when I’m caught up in it. You can have a lot of shmaltzy fun with variations and harmonies.
The transcript given is from the playing of Gerald Coté on the button accordion. This is how he starts things, simple, and he returns there regularly throughout, but he has a slew of sweet variations he playfully tickles into and around the melody…lovely playing…
It is also usually played with some swing, in other words ~ | G2 G>F G>A | G3 ||
I will return with more for the ‘Comments’, and hope others will add their take on it here too.
“The Westphalia Waltz” ~
http://www.angelfire.com/folk/polka/ ~ Homepage
Article: "Polka in Texas"
If you scan down the page, or do a search you’ll find a section called "Wonderful Westphalia Waltz", by the ‘editor’, John Rivard, Houston, Texas, U.S.A., here is some of that, just in case the link may change in the near future:
"Cotton Collins, a fiddle player for the legendary Lone Star Playboys, composed a "no-name" waltz in 1946 based on a melody that he memorized while stationed in Germany. The song became a big hit for the Lone Star Playboys, one of their most requested numbers. After playing the song at a dance in Westphalia, the local dancers suggested the song be titled the "Westphalia Waltz." The song with the beautifully haunting melody now had a name. It was put to sheet music, copyright Cotton Collins.
The Lone Star Playboys recorded Westphalia Waltz on the Bluebonnet label. Based on the success of the song, Hank Thompson then recorded it on Capital. Westphalia Waltz became the #1 country song in the nation, according to Vince Incordona, manager and tenor banjo player of the Lone Star Playboys.
Since its introduction in 1947, Westphalia Waltz has become a “classic” in both polka and c/w swing music, recorded by many.
As written, the Westphalia Waltz had no words. Lyrics were added by Hamlet Booker, and the song again recorded by the Lone Star Playboys as “The New Westphalia Waltz.”
Now you’re probably wondering about the town for which this song was named. In 1879 several immigrants from the Westphalia province in Germany moved from Frelsburg, Texas, into the area they named after their homeland province. There were thirteen families on 270-acres of homestead plots by 1884. ~ " ~ John Rivard
The following is another short extraction, a letter from musician Brian Marshall on the origins of the polka and the Westphalia Waltz:
"Hey John (editor):
With regard to the origin of polka, I always heard that the Czechs popularized Polka but the dance actually came from the Poles. A Czech passing through a Polish village saw the dance being performed by a Polish girl. They called the dance "Polka" which in Polish literally translates to "Polish woman."
The "Westphalia Waltz" is known in Polish circles as "Pytala Sie Panni," which means, "Why are you sad Lady?" This song has been sung in Bremond (TX) for as long as anyone can remember."
~ Brian Marshall
“The Westphalia Waltz” ~ 13th Century Provençal
Yup! ~ It seems there has also been some claim that the melody originated in that area of France?
“The Westphalia Waltz” ~ simple version, 1st & 2nd parts
Arranged by Charlie Walden as 1st & 2nd violin parts:
"Missouri Old Time Fiddling & More"
F, G, A, Bb, C & D Major
Along with this being played and transcribed mostly in G, and played as previously mentioned in C & Bb ~ it is also played in the keys of F, A & D… Whew!!! :-/
“The Westphalia Waltz” ~ it do get around don’t it?
Another take on the tune and harmony (abc’s):
"Thursday Night Contra Dance: Glenside, Pennsylvania"
"Westphalia Waltz" ~ abc’s & dots
I’ll be back with at least one other transcription and probably another dance notation… 8-)
“The Westphalia Waltz” ~ numbers and the very basic
If ‘numbers’ make more sense to you, here’s another way to view the first measures of the 1st & 2nd endings and the first two measures of the B-part of the tune:
[1 d3 d2 A | ~
[2 d3 d2 d | ~
|: g3 g2 A | f3 f2 A | ~
Here is a transcription of the waltz own to the bone:
K: G Major
|: D2 |
G4 A2 | B4 e2 | d6- | d4 D2 | G4 A2 |
B4 c2 | A6- | A4 G2 | F4 A2 | c4 g2 |
f6- | f4 e2 | d4 d2 |1 e2 d2 c2 | B6- | B4 :|2 c2 B2 A2 | G6- | G6 ||
|: g6 | f6 | e2 f2 g2 | B6 |
B2 A2 G2 | B2 A2 B2 | c6- | c6 |
e6 | e6 | e2 f2 g2 | f4 e2 |
d4 d2 |1 e2 d2 c2 | B6- | B6 :|2 c2 B2 A2 | G6- | G4 ||
“The Westphalia Waltz” ~ another transcription
K: G Major
|: (3DEF |
G2 G>F G>A | B2 B>^A B>e | d2 d>e d>^c | (3ddd d>D E>F |
(3GGG G>F G>A | (3BBB B>^A B>c | A2 A>^G A>B | A2 A>E G>E |
F2 D>A (3FGA | c2 c>B c>g | f2 f>^e f>g | f2 f>g (3gfe |
1 d2 d>^c (3ded | e2 (3ded c2 | B2 B>^A B>c | (3BBB B2 :|
2 d2 (3ddd d2 | c2 F2 D2 | G2 G>F G>A | G2 (3BAG (3Bcd ||
g2 g>G B>g | f2 f>F A>f | (3efe (3fgf (3gag | B2 B>^A B>c |
(3BcB A2 G2 | (3BcB (3ABA G2 | c2 c>B c>d | c2 c>D (3FAc |
e2 (3eee e2 | e2 (3efe e>A | e2 f3 g | f3 A f>e |
1 d2 d>^c d>A | e2 (3ded c2 | B2 B>^A B>c | B2 B>D (3GBd :|
2 d2 (3ddd d>A | c2 (3BcB A2 | G2 G>F G>A | G4 ||
Here it is without the swing notated:
|: (3DEF |
G2 GF GA | B2 B^A Be | d2 de d^c | (3ddd dD EF |
(3GGG GF GA | (3BBB B^A Bc | A2 A^G AB | A2 AE GE |
F2 DA (3FGA | c2 cB cg | f2 f^e fg | f2 fg (3gfe |
1 d2 d>c (3ded | e2 (3ded c2 | B2 B^A Bc | (3BBB B2 :|
2 d2 (3ddd d2 | c2 F2 D2 | G2 GF GA | G2 (3BAG (3Bcd ||
g2 gG Bg | f2 fF Af | (3efe (3fgf (3gag | B2 B^A Bc |
(3BcB A2 G2 | (3BcB (3ABA G2 | c2 cB cd | c2 cD (3FAc |
e2 (3eee e2 | e2 (3efe eA | e2 f3 g | f3 A fe |
1 d2 d^c dA | e2 (3ded c2 | B2 B^A Bc | B2 BD (3GBd :|
2 d2 (3ddd dA | c2 (3BcB A2 | G2 GF GA | G4 ||
A few years ago I notated a version of this tune from a recording of two mandolins. I combined them into a setting for one mandolin, which I think works quite well. It can be seen at
Another old-fashioned American waltz I can’t stop playing these days is "Down Home Waltz" which I got from the same record - Mandolin Extravaganza:
“The Waltz of the Bells”
~ which has been and is danced in many places, including all across these isles.
Music: any 16, 32 or 64 bar waltz.
Dance: 32 bars
Steps: Waltz, the basic 123, ‘step-together’ = 1 - 3, ‘step-together-step = 1 - 3, 1 - - …
Formation: Couples facing forward and around in the line-of-direction (= LOD = Counter/Anti-Clockwise = CCW), the man on the left, woman on the right, holding inside hands, her L-hand in his R-hand, chest-high…
Bars / Measures (given in 8 bar phrases)
1 ~ ‘Balance’ out and away from each other, "with weight" = step out, Man on his L-foot / Woman on her R-foot, and swing the free foot out and across
2 ~ ‘Balance’ in and toward partner, with a ‘little’ pull = step in, Man on his R-foot / Woman on her L-foot and swing the free foot in and across
3 - 4 ~ Repeat
NOTE: These ‘balances’ are not usually exaggerated unless you’re having a lark. I prefer to fully step them, or 123, 223, etc., while moving ever so slightly forward along the LOD… And I sometimes find I’m ever so slightly being Cajun about it… 8-)
5 - 6 ~ "Roll-Away" = moving forward and around the hall in the LOD, the man turns once around and into his L-shoulder ACW / while the woman turns into her R-shoulder and CW
7- 8 ~ finish facing each other and taking both hands across, R-L / L-R, and continuing to move in the LOD and sideways (man to his L / woman to her R) = step-together-step, and finish facing back the way you’d come, or clockwise (CW), opposite LOD, and taking inside hands, woman’s R-hand in man’s L-hand…
1 - 8 (= 9 - 16) ~ REPEAT all that ~ with opposite footwork and CW = opposite LOD
NOTE: After doing the "Roll-Away" take a cross-hand hold, Rs over Ls, the man and woman take R-hands over L-hands, chest-high and facing for the next part of the dance…
(the following = 17 - 24)
1 - 2 ~ Moving in the LOD, the man steps sideways to his L, step-together, step-together / while the woman turns once CW under their raised joined hands…
3 - 4 ~ Both, facing, move sideways continuing in LOD = step-together-step
5 - 8 ~ REPEAT 1 - 4 in with opposite footwork and moving CW/opposite the LOD
(the following = 25 - 32)
1 ~ ‘Balance’, facing & in cross-hand hold, with your partner = ‘by-the-book’ this begins ‘away from’ / I prefer to begin the balance moving with a gentle pull ‘toward’…
2 ~ ‘Balance’ = ‘by-the-book’ is ‘toward’ / I prefer ‘away’
3 - 4 ~ Repeat the balances
5 - 8 ~ Taking a ‘ballroom-hold’ (‘waltz-hold’) waltz around turning as a couple usually CW, travelling ACW in the LOD… This can be once around casually, or twice round.
NOTE: Making a ‘mixer’ of this you can have partners change by progressing at the end of the ‘waltz-round’, or having them waltz once around and then waltz forward or back to a new partner, as many changes as you feel devilish enough to demand, but I wouldn’t go too far, maybe as many as ‘forward two’, at a stretch three… ;-)
“Giving Weight” ~
Giving ‘weight’, ‘presence’, being with your partner, is more important than what your feet are doing, this is the ‘gentle’ pull and aknowledgement of a partner. It is that ‘balance’ that makes the flow and curves of the dance, that helps to iron out the rough edges and that makes any ‘turn’ work, including a swing or waltz-around, house-around, or pivot. But even this you don’t ‘force’ on a partner. You don’t subject them to unreasonable demands to meet your ends, to satisfy your expectations. You don’t pull and push and shove and yank and throw your own weight or your partners or anyone else’s about… In all, it is about ‘giving’, and ideally no single person ‘leads’, you take turns, and it balances out.
‘Giving’ is more than just about weight. Every new partner should be a completely unique experience, and about compromise. The more experienced or capable you are as a dancer the more you will be the one who can ‘should’ be making the compromises. There too is a potential problem, those who think they are ‘experienced’ and ‘capable’ and aren’t really. How often I’ve seen someone take up that unearned responsibility and ended up shoving folks or pulling them about, and usually at the wrong time and in the wrong direction anyway. The result of such abuse is what those with compassion can imagine ~ the person being made the ‘fool’, recieving the abuse, begins to shut down and lose it altogether. It doesn’t improve things, it makes them worse. It is not welcoming or understanding, it has the opposite effect, it distances the person, by the very act of stopping, pushing or pulling you keep giving them the negative message that they are ‘wrong’, that they can’t do it right, and enough of those kind of rude messages and the end result is "why bother, I can’t do this!" They stop trying, they give up…
For me this type of dancing isn’t about competing or being an exhibitionist or seeking ego gratification, it is about socializing and community. It’s about the craic. If you come at it with too many expectations and demands, you will end up ruining the experience for someone else. I have seen people leave the dance floor in tears ~ and some who have left for good. For one it was a friend we had cajoled into going to a dance, a quite lovely lady. The wolves descended and one of the worst ‘jerks’ on the floor was the first to ask her to dance. He forced her, pushed her, jerked her about, twisting himself and her through his performance, and about halfway through the dance she escaped never to return. It was a long stretch later before we got her back up and dancing again. The really sad part of it is that he saw her as the problem, never himself. To watch folks like this dance, the first thing you notice is their inflexibility ~ they always dance the same way with whoever they are subjecting to their little show… "See me!" isn’t partner dancing. You may as well be in a closet somewhere dancing for yourself, except you’d miss the needed audience…
Enough of that rave. My dear wife is a good dancer, but has had to suffer the yanks and jerks of the ‘well-meaning’ more than she’d care to remember, as I too have. After my wife, my favourite partners are beginners, and I do my damnedest to be patient, forgiving and welcoming, and to try to bolster their confidence and put them at ease. Yeah, well, sometimes I tease when I shouldn’t have, but I try to make amends in those cases.
I first heard the Westphalia Waltz and I first heard of this waltz several years ago when I began playing my acoustic bass fiddle (or string bass or double bass or whatever you want to call my instrument) with a local "old-time" folk music group who meet once a month on the first Monday of every month. This version is close to how the local fiddlers with this group of mixed nuts like to play this waltz. It is one of the favorite tunes of this group of mixed nuts and it is played at almost every monthly meeting.
X: 1 ~ “The Westphalia Waltz” - one possible selection of chords, answering a request
The chords just added to the first entry are from a loose sheet I have that has the same chords as given in Peter Barnes’ excellent book "A Little Couple-Dancemusik: 400 Waltzes, Polkas, Tangos, Hambos, Zweifachers and other traditional dance tunes", page 19. However, it is a slightly different transcription than the one given here.
A notable difference, bars 14 of both parts, rather than as I’ve given it here:
[1 "D" d2- dd- dA | "D+" e2 d2 c2 | "G" B4- Bc | - - -
Tony gives it so:
"D" d3 ^c de |[1 "D+" d2 ^c2 =c2 | "G" B6- | - - -
“The Westphalia Waltz” ~ roots - - - with respect to Poland
"The Westphalia Waltz", named after the town of Westphalia, Texas, a name given it by fiddler Cotton Collins who is responsible for its Texas accent, this name, and its first fame…
UPDATE for previous links ~
Texas Dancing News - homepage
Articles: Polka in Texas, etc…
Scroll down to "Wonderful Westphalia Waltz" (posted 02/20/03)
A fragment from that article and previously contributed here ~ "Cotton Collins, a fiddle player for the legendary Lone Star Playboys, composed a "no-name" waltz in 1946 based on a melody that he memorized while stationed in Germany. "
Not quite. While Cotton Collins, a fiddler with Hank Thompson and the Lone Star Playboys, seems to have named it after that town in Texas, and made it popular, it’s roots go further back and it has had other names before him, and predates his existence all together. So, no, he isn’t the composer, at best just another arranger, but he did Texize & popularize it. It seems that melody he’d memorized while stationed in Germany was Polish, but it’s that catchy that it might also have Germanic equivalents. Evidently there’s more than one set of lyrics for this melody, and more than one name too, but here are two I’ve found in looking ~ "Pytala Sie Pani" & "Wszystkie Rybki". It seems there are others claiming it for France and at least an age of 300 years or more.
Cotton Collins gave it a bit of Texas slick and swing and he and ‘The Lone Star Playboys recorded it as "The Westphalia Waltz" in 1946, and it was further popularized, if these tales are right, in 1955 by Hank Thompson on a Capitol Records.
You can catch a take on it here, with some of this history discussed in the comments for this YouTube:
Westphalia Waltz (Made famous by Cotton Collins c1946) Cover by Clay Barker
Uploaded on Feb 6, 2009 - Burfordfiddler1962
And here’s my favourite YouTube take on this: "The Westphalia Waltz"
Published on Jan 7, 2013 - cedarvillemusic
The McAuley/Horan/O’Coaimh Trio, with John Mortensen joining them on piano, play The Westphalia Waltz.
And not forgetting ‘The Fiddler’s Companion’ ~ http://www.ibiblio.org/fiddlers/WEL_WEZ.htm
The works of Peter Barnes - with chords & the wisdom of experience:
"Interview With a Vamper: Piano Accompaniment Techniques for Traditional Dance Music"
"A Little Couple-Dancemusik: 400 Waltzes, Polkas, Tangos, Hambos, Zweifachers and other traditional dance tunes"
English Country Dance Tunes, Volumes 1 & 2"
I’d meant to add this to the previous extract from and reference to Peter’s ‘Dancemusik’…