The hambone or Juba dance is a body percussion technique created by enslaved Africans in North America. Forbidden to use their drums, they found ways to make rhythms with tambourines, bones, and body music such as hand clapping and body and thigh slapping, also called “Pattin' Juba.”
In this ensemble, everyone takes turns performing the "hambone" rhythm with hand claps and leg pats, shown in the first two measures of the score below. It might be tricky going from the body percussion to playing the piano, so practice the hambone until you can do it easily. Watch the video "Performing the Hambone Rhythm" to learn the rhythm.
Many different lyrics have been used for the hambone. but this is among of the most familiar.
Hambone, hambone where you been?
Round the world and back again.
Hambone, hambone have you heard?
Papa's gonna buy me a mockingbird.
If that mockingbird don't sing
Papa's gonna buy me a diamond ring.
If that diamond ring don't shine
Papa's gonna take it to the five and dime.
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