Like Dvorak's "American" quartet and his New World Symphony, this quintet also assimilates and reflects American musical traditions, and has also been nicknamed "the American" by some observers. Written while the composer was on retreat at a Czech colony in Spillville, Iowa, the quintet uses a traditional string quartet with an added viola. In Spillville, Dvorak was both home and abroad at the same time: in a foreign country, yet surrounded by transplanted Czechs and his native culture. This odd situation is well-represented by his American works. While their pentatonic melodies and rhythmic irregularities sound representative of African-American or Native American music, many of the same elements also appear in the Eastern European folk music from which Dvorak also drew creative inspiration. While Iowa was as far west as Dvorak got, it was still pretty far by a European compass!