The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #122362   Message #2684579
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
21-Jul-09 - 01:20 PM
Thread Name: Ship Margaret Evans, songs
Subject: RE: Ship Margaret Evans, songs
Hi Charley,

No, on the contrary that reference strengthens my point that "bulgine" had the connotation of Black speech at that point:

Bulgine, which, as the learned know, is good Ethiopian for Steam Engine.

And, I am afraid, one mainstream, non-ethnicize (*beware - made-up word alert!) reference from the period will still have to be weighed against the many more ethnic uses.

I don't follow where Q is going with this, with all these additional references to "bulgine" at later times. Q, please contextualize your info within a point that you'd like to make. It seems that if you are demonstrating that "bulgine" is so general, and thus is indicative of little, then it would be irrelevant to the whole discussion of the song's origins. So why even talk about it?

My current opinion, in summary, is as follows. "Clear the Track" has earmarks that strongly suggest the influence of the 1840s style minstrel music. One of the most tangible of these to note in this particular discussion is the word 'bulgine,' which seems to me a word that was at that time understood as markedly Black speech, and for that reason, also popular with evoking stereotypical Blackness in minstrel songs.

Baring finding a published minstrel song that corresponds to "Clear the Track" --and the 'Clar de Track' mentioned in Lovell, above, is a good candidate that may be a match-- the chantey looks like it was at least based in numerous minstrel-y phrases. The case of so many other chanteys, which have phrases clearly corresponding to minstrel songs but for which we can find no matching source, makes this a very plausible scenario. "Clear the Track" sounds like other chanteys that are strongly suspected to have minstrel influence, and these songs form a cluster that suggest this scenario: that the minstrel songs were so popular (as we know) that their floating phrases were a part of the lyrical language of the time.

The tune of "Clear the Track," opined by several authors to be related to the Irish "Shule Agra," is nonetheless a common sort of tune in the musical language of chanteys, something like "Santiana" and "Jamboree" and such. I am doubtful that we'll find a published minstrel song with that tune that corresponds, even if 'Clar de Track' turns out to be lyrically similar. For these reasons (with evidence so far), I think it most likely that "Clear the Track," whatever sources it stole from, was a creation of sailors.