Doodle is a song that has been popular in the United States since the 1700's.
Music historians disagree about the song's origin, but they know that its melody and words
have changed over time. In 1767, American composer Andrew Barton used "Yankee
Doodle" in his opera The Disappointment. The song must have been well known by that
time because Barton did not write out the music. He simply directed the performers to sing
his words to the tune of "Yankee Doodle."
Through the years, different words have been sung with the "Yankee Doodle"
melody. In the late 1700's, people sang variations of the following words:
Yankee Doodle came to town
Upon a little pony,
He stuck a feather in his hat
And called it macaroni.
At that time, the word macaroni referred to
young men in London who dressed and behaved extravagantly.
In England in the 1800's, children sang "Yankee Doodle" with words from a
nursery rhyme that begins:
Lucy Locket lost her pocket,
Kitty Fisher found it;
Nothing in it, nothing in it,
But the binding round it.
During colonial times, British soldiers sang
"Yankee Doodle" to poke fun at troops from New England. But instead of taking
offense, American soldiers liked the song. During the Revolutionary War in America
(1775-1783), patriots sang "Yankee Doodle" in their camps and whistled it in
battle. According to tradition, American bands played "Yankee Doodle" when the
British surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781.
In 1890, American composer John Philip Sousa published a version of "Yankee
Doodle" in a collection of patriotic songs. Sousa's "Yankee Doodle" is the
version most people know today.