The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







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.

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.

There are various styles of contemporary polka. Of the US types, the North American "Polish-style polka" has roots in Chicago, 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 Norteņo. 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".


  • JennyLind.ogg 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:

See also: Austrian folk dancing

Last updated: 08-14-2005 00:14:05
Last updated: 09-12-2005 02:39:13