The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #46744   Message #2588745
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
14-Mar-09 - 11:22 AM
Thread Name: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
Hi Richard,

It seems that a few different people collected first-hand versions of the chantey. I have access to Hugil, Sharp, and Harlow, while Whall and Terry also collected it but I don't have access to those texts. It seems the oral tradition did continue for this one, independent of the published texts, however I suspect that most people singing the chantey now have learned versions that were ultimately adapted from the published texts and recorded by people like the Spinners and Ewan MacColl.

The tunes for all the collectors' versions are different. In ENGLISH FOLK CHANTEYS (1914), Cecil Sharp, notated a version from John Short. The tune is in aeolian mode and maybe closest to the popular versions.

Sharp also notated two versions in Journal of the Folk-Song Society, Vol. 5, No. 20 (Nov., 1916). The first, sung by Harry Perrey, is similar to the last, but with the variations that I think you'd normally find between two different singers performing something that they learned aurally. The second, by George Conway, is in a major key.

Harlow's, from "Captain Nye," has an opening phrase is like the similar Sharp versions, but his second phrase is different, especially for using the raised seventh scale degree.

Incidentally, the Spinners' version has to my ear what I call a "Scottish" sound (though I'm aware there may not be anything particularly Scottish about it!). It avoids the third scale degree on descent, giving a cadence pattern like 4th-2nd-tonic. All the printed versions I've seen go 3rd-2nd-tonic. Hugill thought the melody had a "Near Eastern" touch about it, which I disagree with, but which, like my "Scottish" interpretation, serves to convey some general traits-- namely: stepwise scalar motion, not the skipping of the 3rd done by the Spinners.

Hugill's, from a Welshman "Mr. Jones," has the now striking first phrase in the relative major key, before shifting to the minor mode. Because I am making an effort to learn a lot of Hugill's versions (in spite of the strong influence of other popular versions), I decided to use this one! Tom Sullivan also recorded a version of "Jamboree" with this particular tune.

I think one tune is as good as the next, but with one small qualification. The "Scottish" scale pattern is decidedly not "American" to my ear (not that that necessarily matters; it does to me because I think the chorus has an American origin)... and what's more, was likely made up by the Spinners (even A.L. Lloyd didnt sing it like that), so that's just sometime to be aware of.