When rural Southern dance music was first recorded in the 1920s, many of the early recordings included square dance calls. These “Barn Dances with Calls” were not intended for dancing – the calls were simply part of the music – but they added to the rustic image of this "old-time" music and no doubt enhanced its marketability. Below are audio files of ninety-five recordings (made between 1924 and 1933) of forty-five Southern callers, transcriptions of the dance calls, and information about the musicians and callers. Like audio snapshots, these recordings may be the closest thing we have to a primary source from which to learn about the Southern square dance tradition prior to the standardization of square dancing that occurred during the first half of the twentieth century. The callers on these recordings can be grouped into six geographic regions, based on where they grew up or lived. In cases where the caller’s identity is unknown (fifteen instances), I have assumed that they were from the same county as the musicians, because most often the caller was one of the musicians. 

Thanks to Sean Goddard, folk dance caller and teacher from Brighton, England, who has reviewed the transcriptions of the dance calls and has offered some corrections. The tables of dance figures etc. (shown below), which reflect these and a few other corrections, are slightly different from those that appear in the book. 

Six Regions: Counties of Southern Dance Callers on 78s (1924-33)

Dance Forms and Figures on 78-rpm Recordings (1924–1933)

Calling Styles, Terminology, and Instrumentation on 78-rpm Recordings (1924–1933)