The second evening of Open Rehearsal was held at the Linda Brooks-Burton Branch Library in the Bayview district. Musicians Idris Ackamoor, Minna Choi, Ahkeel Mestayer, Diana Gameros, Marcus Shelby played Sounds From the Golden Gate: Schottische. Photos by Beth LaBerge.
Composed by William Voit and published by W.B. MacKellar (Clay St. in SF), “Sounds From the Golden Gate: Schottische” is a song that is deceptively simple; it is a song that manages to be both hyper local and global all at once, gesturing to the city’s permanent changeability and its shifting sites of belonging.
Today, the moniker “Golden Gate” is synonymous with San Francisco and its immediate surroundings, so much so that it is hardly surprising to see song after song – both old and contemporary – refer to the city’s golden gates. The reference is meant to conjure up the city’s early days of gold mining as well as its reputation as something of a welcoming jubilee. The notion of “golden gate,” however, predates both of these legacies. In 1846, California U.S. Army Captain John C. Fremont likened the strait between the Bay and the ocean to a “golden gate” for trade. The name was solidified when is observations were published two years later along with a map.
By 1878, when this song was published and when settlement and urban growth was in full swing, the “golden gate” went global and acquired its very own “schottische.” The Schottische, which means “Scottish dance” in German, is a folk dance performed in a circle of partnered dancers (it is similar to the polka in rhythm). The dance traces its stylistic roots to Bohemia, becoming popular across Europe, US, and South America around 1850.
[click sheet music twice to see full size]