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Desert Dancer DT Attribution & Minor Corrections PermaThread (67* d) RE: DT Attribution & Minor Corrections PermaThread 17 Jun 14


Per this thread, Marching song/Cadence Count (see especially recent posts), SOUND OFF (CADENCE COUNT) (DUCKWORTH CHANT) attribution is incorrect.

It says,
In WWII, black troops were, apparently, given more freedom
of self-expression than were white troops. Fancy drill
teams, particularly from Fort Duckworth, Alabama, toured and
popularized jazzier cadence counts. There was a pop record
in the early 50s that wound up on the hit parade. RG

See this page at the Missouri Folklore Society:
The modern cadence call was born in the spring of 1944 at Fort Slocum, New York's Provisional Training Center. Colonel Bernard Lentz, the fort's commander at the time, published a well-established account of the event:

as a company was returning from a long tedious march through swamps and rough country, a chant broke the stillness of the night. Upon investigation, it was found that a Negro soldier by the name of Willie Duckworth, on detached service with the Provisional Training Center, was chanting to build up the spirits of his comrades.

            It was not long before the infectious rhythm was spreading throughout the ranks. Footweary soldiers started to pick up their step in cadence with the growing chorus of hearty male voices. Instead of a down trodden, fatigued company, here marched 200 soldiers with heads up, a spring to their step, and smiles on their faces. This transformation occurred with the beginning of the Duckworth Chant.

            Upon returning to Fort Slocum, Pvt. Duckworth, with the aid of Provisional Training Center instructors, composed a series of verses and choruses to be used with the marching cadence. After that eventful evening the Duckworth Chant was made a part of the drill at Fort Slocum as it proved to be not only a tremendous morale factor while marching, but also coordinated the movements of close order drill with troop precision. (Lentz 70).

This account is included in its entirety because Bernard Lentz is the man who standardized the use of cadence calls in the military. It is an account of the birth of the modern cadence call, written by the man who would ensure its proliferation, and therefore very special to connoisseurs of this particular military folklore. It's the beginning of a very lively and diverse oral art form, different from marching songs and drill for many reasons. The original Duckworth Chant, as presented in Lentz's book, is included in the appendix.

            Lentz didn't stop at making cadence calls standard at Ft. Slocum. He was loud enough about the new tool that "the Duckworth Chant was ordered to be recorded and distributed to the Armed Forces" by the "War Department (now the Department of Defense)" (Johnson 1: 21). Lentz guaranteed the continuation of cadence calls throughout the military for years to come by recognizing the value of this motivational tool.

The chant is copyright Lentz & Duckworth.

~ Becky in Long Beach


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