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The origin of Sea Chanteys

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Chanteyranger 16 May 01 - 02:43 AM
Naemanson 16 May 01 - 06:11 AM
sophocleese 16 May 01 - 07:48 AM
Naemanson 16 May 01 - 07:54 AM
Charley Noble 16 May 01 - 08:48 AM
SeanM 16 May 01 - 06:41 PM
Uncle_DaveO 16 May 01 - 07:08 PM
Charley Noble 16 May 01 - 07:43 PM
Mark Cohen 16 May 01 - 08:05 PM
Wotcha 16 May 01 - 11:18 PM
SeanM 17 May 01 - 12:57 AM
Metchosin 17 May 01 - 03:06 AM
radriano 17 May 01 - 11:41 AM
Charley Noble 17 May 01 - 08:04 PM
Naemanson 18 May 01 - 08:35 AM
radriano 18 May 01 - 10:42 AM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 18 May 01 - 11:12 AM
Metchosin 18 May 01 - 01:20 PM
GUEST,Melani 18 May 01 - 01:32 PM
Charley Noble 18 May 01 - 01:34 PM
lady penelope 18 May 01 - 02:12 PM
GUEST,folklorist 18 May 01 - 04:59 PM
Shields Folk 18 May 01 - 05:13 PM
Metchosin 18 May 01 - 05:21 PM
Metchosin 18 May 01 - 05:32 PM
SeanM 18 May 01 - 06:28 PM
Mark Cohen 18 May 01 - 07:07 PM
GUEST,folklorist 18 May 01 - 11:21 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 18 May 01 - 11:23 PM
SeanM 18 May 01 - 11:30 PM
Chanteyranger 19 May 01 - 12:08 AM
GUEST,Les Jones 19 May 01 - 03:48 AM
Dave (the ancient mariner) 19 May 01 - 07:48 AM
Charley Noble 19 May 01 - 10:44 AM
GUEST,chanteyranger 19 May 01 - 12:04 PM
Charley Noble 19 May 01 - 01:07 PM
Metchosin 19 May 01 - 01:55 PM
GUEST,folklorist 19 May 01 - 04:02 PM
lady penelope 19 May 01 - 04:10 PM
SeanM 19 May 01 - 05:03 PM
GUEST,chanteyranger 19 May 01 - 05:20 PM
Dicho 19 May 01 - 06:07 PM
Charley Noble 19 May 01 - 06:51 PM
Barry Finn 25 May 01 - 04:03 PM
Wendy_ 25 May 01 - 05:00 PM
Wendy_ 25 May 01 - 05:13 PM
Mark Cohen 25 May 01 - 08:12 PM
toadfrog 26 May 01 - 03:48 PM
GUEST,Gareth Williams 26 May 01 - 04:22 PM
Charley Noble 27 May 01 - 12:03 PM
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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Chanteyranger
Date: 16 May 01 - 02:43 AM

A point chantey collectors also make is that black and western European influences criss-crossed over several decades, so that a song that originated in some form by black laborers was picked up by, say, Irish laborers, taken to sea, adapted, and then picked up again by black seafarers and changed again. The process also may have started with songs originated by Irish seafarers/shore laborers, and picked up by blacks, be they African Americans or Caribbean sailors, etc. In other words, the folk process was at work in the "shanty mart" of Mobile that Hugill wrote about. "Hieland Laddie" is a good example. Scottish Highland pipers know it as a very old traditional march, chantey singers know it as a song adapted from the march with a slightly different melody, that dates back to the Dundee whalers, but was picked up, according to Hugill, in the great shanty mart of Mobile and mutated into several North American versions.

Though my reading of the collections and history doesn't point to the call/response form of those songs being totally of African origin, it's clear that the 19th Century form these songs took owes much, maybe more than we realize, to black influences. To add to Ma Fazoo's good point about how history has been written, there certainly has been a bias on the part of historians to pay more attention to cultures that have accumulated a written history, and less on cultures that have relied on transmitting their histories orally, down through generations. The vibrant oral culture of 19th Century African Americans was, for the most part, ignored by professional historians until recent times. Whether knowledge of the history of blacks and work songs aboard ships will be increased due to a wider consciousness on the part of today and tomorrow's historians, or whether those answrs are lost forever, who knows. Historians and folklorists are detectives, and hopefully we'll know more about Jody's theory at some point than we do now.

-chanteyranger


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Naemanson
Date: 16 May 01 - 06:11 AM

Sean, I can reassure you that in one corner of the Modern US Navy there is a little (a very little) shanty singing going on. I have been singing Leave Her, Johnny, (the nice verses) for Navy retirement ceremonies lately.

People seem to be impressed and touched by the song. They don't seem to understand that the sentiment in the song is an urgency to get the hell off the ship but that may be the result of my choice of verses.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: sophocleese
Date: 16 May 01 - 07:48 AM

Two thoughts that crossmy mind reading this fascinating thread. There are very few modern work songs as sung by the workers. People still like to have music to listen to and sometimes work to but they more often put on the radio, tape or CD. Shanties have faded away to dentist chair pap.

The other thoughtis a question for Cranky Yankee mainly, but others who have ideas please feel free to post them. I like the idea that by experiencing rowing a boat or working on a ship you can really apply the shanty to the work and see how they connected. Purely for the purposes of rhythm and pacing are there any dryland activities that you can think of that might help a singer learn the right tempo for a song? As a light example, if I can't row, can I rake leaves?


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Naemanson
Date: 16 May 01 - 07:54 AM

You can use a shanty to ANY repetitive labor. Just remember to depend on your body to set the tempo rather than use the tempo at which you are used hearing the song.

I have used shanties for anything from shoveling snow to mopping the kitchen. I once tried to use one to pull a boat ashore but the owner stopped me because I had latched on to the mooring line instead. I don't think I could have pulled that engine block out of the mud but the owner thought I might.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Charley Noble
Date: 16 May 01 - 08:48 AM

A clear example of how work songs shifted from land to sea has to be "Old Moke" (in the DT), with verses a strange mixture of sea terms and references to railroads, and the chorus strictly railroad and an entirely different tune and rhythm ("Old Virginia Lowlands" if I'm not mistaken). The Boarding Party did a nice rendition of this one, with their usual excellent notes. This shanty was caught obviously in transition.

OLD MOKE PICKIN' ON THE BANJO

He-bang, she-bang, daddy shot a bear
Shot it in the stern, me boys, and never turned a hair
We're all from the railroad, too-rer-loo
Oh, the old moke pickin' on the banjo.

cho: Hooraw! What the hell's the row?
We're all from the railroad, too-rer-loo
We're all from the railroad, too-rer-loo
Oh, the old moke pickin' on the banjo!

The same nomadic pattern is true of many lumberjack songs, which also moved back and forth from sea to land, such as "Jump Her, Juber-Ju" where we find one song describing the demise and embarrassment of a boatman who failed to pilot his skiff successfully during a log run on the rivers, the same chorus used for a net hauling song from the British Isles, and used once again for another song about the most sluggish boat (The Bigalow) on the Great Lakes as it raced (or more correctly "chased") the fleet from Chicago to Cleveland. Just think of how they could have mixed things up if they'd had a chatroom...


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: SeanM
Date: 16 May 01 - 06:41 PM

Glad to hear that SOME sea songs make it in to seafarer's activites still. Sure as heck didn't in the regular navy that I went through unfortunatley.

The 'transition' from sea to land in the shanties is always fun to look at. Quite a bit of Doerflinger's work seems to center on that point. It's a logical progression in a few ways.

Recently I read a book ("Mad Sea"), a semi-autobiography about a young Nordic lad who repeatedly attempted to get to sea (eventually stowing away so they'd HAVE to take him along) and then spent the remainder of the book trying to make it on land. He followed the same path that he notes MANY seamen did, hitting the west coast and heading north into the lumber camps, thus adding to the lumbering shanty tradition that was growing.

Fascinating stuff...

M


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 16 May 01 - 07:08 PM

There's further confusion about this word in the lumbering world. The "shantyman" is not a singer but a lumberjack; he lives in a shanty.

But there was a lot of overlap among the men who made their living as sailors, lumberjacks, and cowboys: Definitely the same class of otherwise unskilled, often rootless, generally penniless bachelor males, who had to make their living by the sweat of their brow and the strength of their bodies. Not only the same class, but in many cases the same drifters here and there. The interpenetration of these songs is nothing to be surprised at.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Charley Noble
Date: 16 May 01 - 07:43 PM

Another good nautical read from a young Canadian woman's point of view has to be a new book by Annette Brock Davis (Jackie) MY YEAR BEFORE THE MAST, another in a series of books describing the experience in the tall ship grain races of the 1930's. Jackie was overheard singing shanties (see, on-thread) to herself on watch and almost died of embarrassment. As one of the first female apprentices on the grain ships, she was lucky that she survived at all. She was definately not there as a passenger, and won a very grudging respect for the skills she learned and practiced, and was gratified to be invited back by the owners to sail next trip as an able-bodied sailor.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 16 May 01 - 08:05 PM

soph, a number of years ago at the San Francisco Folk Music Club's New Year's Camp Harmony I was working in the kitchen (ably presided over by Debby McClatchy), and led shanties to help with the dishwashing. It's not that we all were heaving on a huge pot together, but it just helped lift our spirits and helped the time pass more quickly.

One of my favorite records, a National Geographic collection called "Music of Scotland", probably from the 60s, has a "waulking" song, sung by women who were banging with big pieces of wood on bolts of tweed cloth for what I presume is a good reason. The song is definitely call and response, with the head waulker singing a verse and the rest sliding in with the chorus in an interesting way. You can clearly hear the thumping of all those wooden thingamajigs on the table. I think that's what was being referred to as "tweeding songs" above.

I think CY's point is well taken, that much of the history of folklore, and of shanties in particular, has downplayed or ignored the African influence. Nevertheless, it's clear, and not at all surprising, that many cultures created, shared, and spread this kind of work song.

What a great discussion! People who kvetch about how the BS threads are "ruining" the Mudcat should be gently reminded about gems like this.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Wotcha
Date: 16 May 01 - 11:18 PM

The Armed Forces (even Navy types who can find a place to run) may not call them shanties but they use work songs known as "Jody Calls" which originate from the Duckworth Chant of the 1930s according to our DT scholars. See earlier thread on that subject. The songs till function to take the mind off the monotony and pain of the road march or morning PT session. As a group, the U.S. military is probably the largest organization that uses work songs on a daily basis around the world. It preserves a rare folk tradition without even knowing it (it tarts it up with the likes of the 82 Airborne chorus though). It is not unusual to hear references to Bo Diddley and other greats and most kids have not a clue who they were ...
Cheers,
Brian


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: SeanM
Date: 17 May 01 - 12:57 AM

Unfortunatley, Brian, in my experience with the Navy, we were profoundly discouraged from singing at ANY point in service.

During Boot Camp, our 'leader' of our division struck up a tune while we were marching. He got (I believe) about three words into it before our Company Commander (the Navy equivalent of DI) stopped the march, broke us all down and busted us with pushups for about 45 minutes in the middle of the road. Held up traffic, even. All the while, he kept yelling "So you think you're a bunch of musicians, do you? Let's see your musical asses sing to this!" and other such endearments.

Little episodes like this discouraged the use of work songs. The only 'singing' we were allowed to do was the hideous Sunday Services, where we were all expected to raise our voices high to the travesty of "Proud to be an American". Talk about mental scarring...

At sea, as mentioned above, the general class of people enlisting these days isn't the kind that normally take to folk of any kind. An officer friend of mine once put it kindly with "The enlisted Navy isn't a life for a man who can survive on his own any more. I don't know what you're doing here, because most of the low rate enlisted can barely read, let alone hold a conversation." This is prime Garth Brooks/Snoop Dog territory, folks. Be afraid...

M


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Metchosin
Date: 17 May 01 - 03:06 AM

Cranky Yankee, regarding your initial post, I'm not sure if I misunderstood you, but I have never heard the shanty South Australia performed to the tune of the Bananna Boat Song (Day O). But then again I have only heard it performed by Australians.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: radriano
Date: 17 May 01 - 11:41 AM

For many people, in today's modern culture, music is thought of as something that is purchased and listened to while working rather than something that is an integral part of the work itself. In fact, most sea shanties sung today are not sung while working since the days of real shanty singing are long gone.

I was leading somewhere with this thought but I was interrupted by a customer coming into the office and now I've lost my train of thought.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Charley Noble
Date: 17 May 01 - 08:04 PM

Richard, you wouldn't have to worry about customers if you'd just sing a shanty and persuade them with a belaying pin to do so useful hauling. You do have some ropes hanging around your office, don't you?


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Naemanson
Date: 18 May 01 - 08:35 AM

Wotcha, are you talking of marching songs? I'm not sure that qualifies. From what I have seen of the US Navy there is little in the way of work songs.

Sean, your description of today's military ("This is prime Garth Brooks/Snoop Dog territory, folks. Be afraid..." doesn't completely jibe with my experience. Sure they are into modern music and experiences and they are generally pretty far right of center but they are not ignorant knuckle dragging buffoons either. That is more the Navy of my day.

And some of them are even into folk music!!

But they would never let themselves be caught dead actually singing it. That would be acting too far outside the actions of the common herd. It would be thinking too far outside the box. Because, whatever else they are, they definitely have a strong herd instinct.

I think your informant was giving you some bum information. The Navy is an all volunteer force with a high degree of professionalism. The kids joining up today are no worse than those working to become the leaders of our nation.

I have a friend who works as a part time instructor at UMASS Lowell. He was telling my just this morning about the poor quality of some of the papers he has to grade. If you want to fear anything you should be fearing them too.

(The above was written without animosity.)


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: radriano
Date: 18 May 01 - 10:42 AM

Actually, Charlie, mining songs would be more appropriate as I work for the California Division of Mines and Geology, the state geological survey.

One of our products is a cd of photos of the old gold mines and I've been trying for some time (unsuccessfully so far) to convince my bosses that what the cd needs is a sound track of gold mining songs.

Richard


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 18 May 01 - 11:12 AM

About Shanties/Chanties still being written, check out Dave Stone's "Anti-Chantey". It's on his recording "The Journey.

The Jouney


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Metchosin
Date: 18 May 01 - 01:20 PM

Hmmmm...Cheese is good....Ben Gunn would have approved.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,Melani
Date: 18 May 01 - 01:32 PM

I did a research chantey for my husband the developmental biologist:

Oh, kill the rats and cut'em up,
Away, boys, away!
And then we'll all go out for lunch,
And we'll all go together!

They stopped me at that point.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Charley Noble
Date: 18 May 01 - 01:34 PM

Thanks for the link to David Stone.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: lady penelope
Date: 18 May 01 - 02:12 PM

Thanks Mark I couldn't think of the proper word for me "tweeding" songs at the time.

Although there is still a lot of repetative work about, it is very rarely ( outside of places like the navy ) done in UNISON! People who work in factories are quite often doing different tasks in the same place and the rhythmn of the work won't allow that kind of call response song. Also sometimes people are told to be quiet! I work in a clinical laboratory and sometimes an odd phenomena occurrs. Spontanious Whistling! Usually of slow / laid back tunes such as the gallery theme from Vision on ( somebody from Britain help me out here I can't remember what it's called ) the whistling will go on for about ten minutes and then just die out.

And why is singing along to the radio a reduction? If there is no one alse to lead the singing why not the radio? Isn't it better that people sing along to radio than not sing at all?

TTFN M'Lady P.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,folklorist
Date: 18 May 01 - 04:59 PM

It seems CY's main point was that the call-and-response work song was originally African and came into shantying by way of African sailors. Others point out that there were shanties going back to the 1500s and that waulking songs are call-and-response work songs in the Celtic world, presumably unrelated to African models. I'd add to this that songs associated with threshing sometimes used call-and-response form. In Brittany, the came kind of Kan-Ha-Diskan that is used for plain dancing was also used to tamp down the threshing floor so that it would be hard enough to thresh on. Throughout France, and especially the northwest coastal areas, call-and-response is one of the most common types of singing, both for shanties and for other purposes. From all this, I just don't see any evidence that shanties ORIGINATED with Africans; there seem to have been call-and-response work songs elsewhere, and the shanty seems to have originated before Africans were a major part of the workforce.

CY's use of movies like Mogambo and Zulu as evidence is also a bit dodgy. Calling their tradition "centuries-old" and the song used to haul a rhinoceros out of a pit a "long drag chantey" makes it SEEM like africans invented the long-drag chantey centuries ago. But what we really have is a twentieth century movie of modern Africans using a song structurally similar to a long-drag chantey. It's not a centuries-old document, nor is it clear whether this tradition is connected to the shanty. It could even have been staged by the director.

BUT, I think it's fairly obvious that Africans, West Indians and African-Americans have had a huge impact on shanties, especially the English-language tradition.

Now for my main point: to say that historians and folklorists have ignored this is untrue. Every folklorist I've ever heard talking about shanties presents the evidence that Africans had a major influence, and talks about the theory that the name originated due to moving homes in the West Indies. Roger Abrahams has done some very important work on West Indian shanties (see his book Deep the Water, Shallow the Shore); I was just looking at his fieldtapes the other day, wishing I had a reel-to-reel deck! It's well and good to say that historians have neglected this and de-emphasized that for political reasons, but I don't think that applies to the African influence on shanties. The main problem, I think, is that most of what has been written on Shanties is quite old and the past few generations of scholars haven't written much on the topic. The standard books are still the ones by Hugill, who was neither a folklorist nor a historian, and wrote thirty years ago.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Shields Folk
Date: 18 May 01 - 05:13 PM

Is the chanty/shanty spelling question an Atlantic thing, chanty-west(america), shanty-east(British Isles).


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Metchosin
Date: 18 May 01 - 05:21 PM

A further documentation of the African influence regarding Shanties is noted in the liner notes of an old record I have entitled Whaling and Sailing Songs from the Days of Moby Dick by Paul Clayton (1956). The performance of the songs is a bit weird, but he does seem to have done some research.

Regarding the Shanty Blood Red Roses he notes:

"It is thought that this fine old halyard Shanty is of Scottish origin. It is mentioned by Captain R.C. Adams in his book On Board the Rocket (1879) as being sung by the Negro crew of an American ship in mastheading the maintopsail, but is unquestionably of earlier origin than this mention." Unfortunately he doesn't say where he got the information regarding the Scottish conection.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Metchosin
Date: 18 May 01 - 05:32 PM

I would have thought so Sheils Folk, but Paul Clayton who is American spells it "Shanty".


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: SeanM
Date: 18 May 01 - 06:28 PM

Naemanson...

What I was speaking of about the state of folk in the US Navy was personal experience from the early '90s, along with friends who were either still active until recently or are still reservists.

While I won't debate that there are exceptional individuals enlisting in the military, I will stand by the assertion that the majority average is pretty far down on the overall scale of life. Quite simply, the enlisted forces don't recruit from those that would be considered 'exceptional'. Those 'exceptional' individuals who are considering military service usually end up in the ROTC programs, and normally end up in either Officer Candidate programs or in the higher 'tech skill' jobs.

I can attest personally to the lack of folk music amongst the 'rank and file' on board my ship at the time that I was there. I can attest to specific events - the 'working party' loading supplies on board prior to departing from port in Dubai, who when the Filipino CPO running suggested that we might like singing to make the work go faster was met with repeated yells that 'Hey - we aren't fags!' and similar enlightened suggestions.

Maybe I just was unlucky and got in with a truly sadsack vessel, but I fear that it's a service wide malady. I've often pondered if some of the various excesses that I read of (the manifold rape charges, near international incidents caused by drunken sailors, etc.) might be at least partially curbed if some of the old shanties and other traditions were seriously taught to the new sailors. Give them pride in what they do, and they may think twice about doing something to tarnish the service's reputation...

But this is rather drifty. My apologies... back to the Shanty talk.

M


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 18 May 01 - 07:07 PM

Charley Noble, did you say ROPES??? Ain't no ropes on a ship! (Well, maybe one...)

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,folklorist
Date: 18 May 01 - 11:21 PM

Hey, just to show you there are no new arguments under the sun, here is the very first paragraph of Roger Abrahams's 1974 book Deep the Water, Shallow the Shore:

"There are certain musical types that seem to arise only in areas in which Afro-Americans and Euro-Americans perform together or at least witness each other's performance forms--Jazz, jody calls, cheerleading, to use some American examples. The sea shanty is one of these. In Chanter-response performance type, with a high degree of voice overlap and interlock, these work songs are more in African singing style than European (with the possible exception of Celtic singing in groups). Yet they arose and thrived at a time when Afro- and euro-Americans and Europeans worked together under sail, and it seems clear that it was this combination of ethnic groups pursuing a common purpose that provided the situation under which these songs thrived."

Roger then provides an excellent five-page survey of the scholarship on black contributions to shantying; from Sharp, who was skeptical but admitted that some shanties had black influences, to W.F. Arnold who, in a 1914 book called Songs of Sea Labour proclaimed that the majority of shanties are "Negroid" in origin. The origin issue has long been a vexed question, because the hard data are simply not there to be found.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 18 May 01 - 11:23 PM

Charlie, No problem. Enjoy!


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: SeanM
Date: 18 May 01 - 11:30 PM

Amen...

So, now that we know for certain that we can't know for certain... Back to the fun.

This actually is a bit of a dense question - but do the Library of Congress or Lomax series of recordings have any 'shanty' based collections? I have one that's the 'Anthracite Coal Miners', and I've seen collections of flatboat river songs and the like, but I don't recall seeing one of the truly 'scholarly' series having a shanty disc...

Something like that, while solving nothing, would be a wonderful historic aid for this kind of discussion. One element that is somewhat lacking in all of the above is that while most of us have access to the same 'paper' data, we're all (OK, several of us are) listening to different 'aural' data sources. The singer influences the music in ways well beyond the origin of the song - Paul Clayton, for example, while producing a GREAT recording, makes the shanties all sound about as 'White European' as anything possibly ever could...

It'd be interesting to know if any original recordings from the very tail end of the 'golden age' are around on CD...

M


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Chanteyranger
Date: 19 May 01 - 12:08 AM

Folklorist, have you read Black Culture And Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought From Slavery To Freedom, by Prof. Lawrence W. Levine? Though it doesn't cover chanteys (ah, well), this 1977 groundbreaking book's thesis is that historians, by and large, principally academic historians, have for too long ignored oral folk culture as serious history, and calls for historians to raise their own consciousness through studying the oral traditions of cultures that have been rendered inarticulate by historians in general (and this from a man who was himself a U.C. Berkeley history prof). My point is about the historian's craft. I should have defined "recent times" - which I mean to be the last 30 years or so. Levine's book is quite an eye-opener. Folklorist Richard Dorson said "It is the first historical work written by a professional historian to make exhaustive and sophisticated use of folklore sources..." I don't think the impact of black influences is yet fully realized - and I pose the question whether it's too late for a major historical work on that aspect of it, or will a major historical work emerge and help answer some tricky questions? If only historians of long ago had...ah, but that's hindsight :-).

-chanteyranger


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,Les Jones
Date: 19 May 01 - 03:48 AM

C/shanties are great examples of the oral tradition through which 'folk music'has been transmitted. These songs have clearly travelled and changed much more than most other types of 'folk musisc and are the best evidence for the oral tradition. I wrote, sang and had a lot of fun with a shanty, in the Merseyside area in the 1960's.

It was called 'The Early Morning Shanty' with a chorus line Pull back the sheets - ugh! To my knowledge nobody else ever sang it, or asked for the words. I guess it died a natural death ........ or maybe not?

Which reminds me I find this line running through my head: South Australian Chardonay, Heave away, Haul away

or should it be Shardonay??

Cheers Les Jones Now of Manchester


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Dave (the ancient mariner)
Date: 19 May 01 - 07:48 AM

The Oxford English dictionary states that Shanty probably derives from the French Chantez. The English word To CHANT (measured monotonous song)is of French origin. Since the only written language used in England was Latin, and the only spoken language was bastardised by the introduction of Norman French in 1066; it is entirely likely that the spelling of Shanty/Chanty is French in origin. Having said that Shanty ,is still the official spelling in the English dictionary. In Elizabethan times trumpets, drums and "Chanters" were frequently used aboard ships to entertain, and pass orders. The Bosuns call (pipe) was not only a mark of rank aboard ship, but also used to pass orders to the crew ; the reason that whistling is strictly forbidden aboard ship (Royal Navy); and considered bad luck on Merchant ships. The debate about the origins of Sea Shanties on this thread, has been interesting and informative. The origin of Shanties is clouded in folklore and the oral tradition. No nation or race can be said to be the originator of this type of song. Clearly the Vikings used chants and songs to row their vessels and I'm sure the Portugese, Spanish and Dutch nations had their songs too. Any attempt to attribute the source or main influence to any particular race is futile. I think that the tradition leads one to assume that all music, song, is a uniquely human condition; and the attempt to coordinate hard work by chant and song is one of the common links that we all share alike. Yours, Aye. Dave


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 May 01 - 10:44 AM

Apparently there are some "cylinder recordings" by folk song collector Percy Grainger of shantysingers in varous sailors' rest homes, according to A.L.Lloyd in his FOLK SONG IN ENGLAND; he really has a fascinating analysis of various types of shanties, their functions, and origin.

Sean, I also would be cautious of expecting traditional shanties to install "moral values" in a new crop of amoral apprentice sailors; traditional shanties were seldom "sensitive" about male/female relationships, or other interesting combinations of gender and species. Well, yes, what you are suggesting about reinforcing pride in one's work does ring true, in spite of the "hard case" skipper and the "bruising bucko" mate.

Mark, ropes? Aren't they the things that hold up all those poles? You know, the ones with all those billowing sheets.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,chanteyranger
Date: 19 May 01 - 12:04 PM

Charley Noble, to your knowledge are the Grainger recordings available either commercially or in a library? I'll be going to England in October - would love to find those.

-chanteyranger


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 May 01 - 01:07 PM

Chantyranger, you might inquire at Cecil Sharp House in London; they have a website. I'm just rescimming the relevant book above and could find no further reference, but there seemed to be hope for real recorded shanties. The only field recorded traditional sea songs I've been able to purchase are ones done by Lomax in the Bahamas, recently released as a CD by Smithsonian; these were recorded at various house parties with lots of noise and an occasional clarifying question by an incredibly young and naive sounding Lomax.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Metchosin
Date: 19 May 01 - 01:55 PM

Another place of inquiry might be through Australian archives. The Australians were still doing grain runs and nitrate hauls from Chile around the Horn on square riggers right up into the 1930's.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,folklorist
Date: 19 May 01 - 04:02 PM

chanteyranger,

yes, Levine's book is a mighty work! And I agree with you and him that both black contributions and oral cultures in general have been neglected by historians. The people who have specifically addressed sea shanties have traditionally been pretty sensitive to oral culture, as they would have to be. But you're right that, as a rule, oral culture has been ignored by those who write the books.

keep singing!


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: lady penelope
Date: 19 May 01 - 04:10 PM

South Australian Chardonay? I LIKE it! Please finish it ( bounce up and down squealing Please pleaseplease etc. ) I have a glass of chardonnay in my hand as I type.

TTFN M'Lady P.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: SeanM
Date: 19 May 01 - 05:03 PM

Charley;

Given the prevailing attitudes that I found amongst sailors, I think songs like "Maid o' Amsterdam" would be a marked improvement. At least THOSE sailors actually felt sorry for and/or tried to provide for the future of the women they left pregnant behind them...

M


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,chanteyranger
Date: 19 May 01 - 05:20 PM

Thanks, Charley and Metchosin. I'll make a point to get to the Cecil Sharp house when I'm in London.

Folklorist, let's draft Lawrence Levine into the chantey/shanty scholarship service. We'll promise him unlimited rum and a rat-free, leak-proof ship. :-)

-chanteyranger


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Dicho
Date: 19 May 01 - 06:07 PM

Words interest me, so I looked up chantey in an older Oxford English Dictionary and only found shanty, with a date of 1869 and a reference to Chambers Journal. A OED supplement does have chantey, and attributes the first printed usage to Nordhoff, Nine Years a Sailor, 1856. It would be interesting to know when these words were first used in those forms, and why the English dictionaries prefer shanty and the American Webster prefers chantey. It seems to me that 1856-1869 is late for the words to have come into English (all sources attrib. to the French). No importance but good trivia.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 May 01 - 06:51 PM

It may have been noted already but Richard Dana in his Two Years Before The Mast describes his fellow sailors singing sea shanties, some of which survive to this day, in 1836 but only refers to them as sailors' work songs. Apparently, the sailors knew what they were doing but were ignorant of the proper term for their songs. They were flogged but not for that.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Barry Finn
Date: 25 May 01 - 04:03 PM

The West Coast of Africa has been trading with Europeans since at least as 1455 when Portuguese mariner, Alvise daMosto noted down the size & capacity of their huge canoes & Fernandez reports in 1506 canoes that carried 120 men. In the late 17th century the Dutch factor William Bosman writing from Elmina Fortress on the Gold Coast notes how he'd watch 5 to 600 of these canoes set out fishing every morning & how dependent European traders were on Africans & their boats. So we do have it that Africans & Europeans were at least paddling in the canoe since very early on, maybe before the noted Venetian galleys of 1493 as reported by Felix Fabri. The Virginia Gazette in 1774 notes an impertinent runaway Negro woman who was fond of liquor & singing indecent sailor songs. In 1785 a New England merchant notes the cheerful & pleasant sounds of Negro labor while working the falls. The 1st impressment & imprisonment of American sailors was in 1807 2 of the 4 were sailors of color & of the eventual 5000 impressed prisoners in Dartmoor Prison 220 to 25% were Afro Americans & their musical bands were aalways in the forefront. The Black/Indian captain Paul Cuffe writes of the whaling brig, the Traveler with all it's black crew visiting Port-Au-Prince 8 yr after Haitian independence, I believe this to be the same Traveler mentioned in a song written by one of the all black crew members of the whaling schooner, the Industry, with whom they were rendezvousing with in 1822. Robert Hay (Landsman Hay) describes longshoremen using negro worksongs in 1809 & again aboard the Edward in 1811 of blacks working the capstan for loading cargo, giving the words to 2 of the songs. The Quid, in 1832 shows a black fiddler on top of a capstan singing. Olmstead describes in 1841 on a whaling voyage. of a black sea cook leading the rest in worksong.
The 1st third of the 19th century was increasingly good sailors, while the 2nd third saw their prospects receding & by the last 3rd they were becoming a relic. Even though blacks in general stayed at sea far longer than their white counteparts, becoming the Old Salts to the younger 1 or 2 passage making green hands, they were still to almost completely disaappear from the sea (except as cooks & stewards) by the time Captain Whall states no real shanties were made after 1875, leaving only their mark on the songs. Is it all that strange that the music of the Manhaden fisheries died when the black fishermen ceased to fish or the last of the slave labor songs end with the Georgia Sea Island Singers or the last of the shanties could be heard among the West Indian sailors or the prison worksongs died when the blacks stopped needing them & is it any wonder that onf all these trades examples can be found were some of the versions of the cross over into the different trades while in the the white culture group labor singing died out when? Barry


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Wendy_
Date: 25 May 01 - 05:00 PM

It doesn't have any chardonay in it, but could the song Les Jones was thinking of be: South Australia ? I've always found that "heave away, haul away" pretty catchy.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Wendy_
Date: 25 May 01 - 05:13 PM

Lomax's Deep River of Song: Bahamas 1935 -- Chanteys and Anthems from Andros and Cat Island has chanteys sung by sea spongers. (See also amazon.com's listing - they let you listen to more samples from the cd.)


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 25 May 01 - 08:12 PM

Wendy, I think Les had his tongue well into his cheek...as did I, when I came up with the following ditty that I thought was in the DT but isn't. (The tune, if it isn't obvious, is "Roll the Woodpile Down")

The Bowling Shanty
(words by Mark Cohen, with no shame at all)

I've got a cure for grief and pain
Way down the alleyway
I'll go right down to the bowling lane
And we'll roll the old ball down

Bowling, bowling
Bowling the whole year round
That brown gal o' mine rolled a 209
And we'll roll the old ball down


My Aunt Dinah had quite an arm
She'd bowl every day, it'd do her no harm

Each Monday night I'll put on my shoes
I'll grab my ball and my Daily News

I bowl with a man named Curly Brown
He bowls with a ball weighs twenty-five pounds

When Curly lets fly with that ball
He'll knock a hole in the backstop wall

Old Curly'll smash them pins to bits
But he's still left with a 7-10 split

I'm rolling strikes and I'm feeling fine
One more frame and it's Miller Time


(So yes, shanties are still being written!)

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: toadfrog
Date: 26 May 01 - 03:48 PM

Someone pointed out, these verses will work with almost any sea chanty:

I do not like green eggs and ham
I cannot stand them, Sam I Am!

I would not eat them in a boat!
I would not eat them on a goat!

(I can't remember the rest.)


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,Gareth Williams
Date: 26 May 01 - 04:22 PM

Rutters ! - The old menmonic sailing directions may have been mutated into shanties. Try pricking the geographical locations, depths, and sea bottom mentioned in "Spanish Ladies" on a chart of the English Channel and see what you get - a pilots memonic from the Dodman to the North Foreland. Just a thought.

Gareth


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Charley Noble
Date: 27 May 01 - 12:03 PM

About time for a new thread Oregin of Sea Chanteys/Shanties II if anyone can create a link back to this one; I understand Italian mariners prefer "sea Chianti."


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