The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #126347   Message #2851326
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
26-Feb-10 - 11:01 PM
Thread Name: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
Subject: RE: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
The job-function categories also leave something to be desired. One needs no further proof than the fact that certain chanties were used for more than one job. A lot depends on the speed of the job at that time. For instance, most halyard chanties have two "pulls" per each refrain. And chanties with just one pull often get filed separately under the category of "short drag" chanties. However, it seems that chanties with one pull –perhaps for example "Sally Racket"-- could also be used at halyards, too. It would just mean that the pace would go faster (or for a lighter hoist, i.e. one of the higher yards). So whether one did one pull per refrain at a fast pace, or two pulls at a slower pace, it would amount to a comparable number of "pulls per minute."

Still, most halyard chanties had two pulls. I imagine these as the "proper" "chanties" because I think that was probably the same form as for cotton-screwing. The form was:

(Solo) Lift him up and carry him along
(Refrain) FIRE maringo, FIRE away
(Solo) Stow him down where he belong
(Refrain) FIRE maringo, FIRE away

The turn of the screws, or the fall of the pick ax, or the heaving of coal (if that's what firemen did!)…i.e. the forceful action that needed coordinating, occurred on the capitalized syllables. The key trait to the form was the call and response and these moments of action.

If one thinks with that criterion in mind, one can see across the job-function categories. I will explain.

Take "Hieland Laddie" as a cotton stowing chant:

(Solo) Was ya never down in New York Town?
(Refrain) BONnie laddie, HIElan laddie
(Solo)Walking Broadway up n down?
(Refrain) BONnie hielan LADdie o

We know the Scots song "Hieland Laddie" as a march – though I'm not sure when it first came that way. In any case, it is as a march that it is used, as a walkaway or capstan chanty. However, it could not have been like a march when the Mobile Bay gents used it to screw cotton – that's way too fast. You can see from my illustration, however, how it could be used as a screw/haul type work song.

What's more interesting is the chorus (by which I mean "grand chorus") of some of these chanties. Some have what I want to call a "mock" chorus. Contained within the chorus are still the "pull" phrases. That means, people doing work at the screws or halyards could still use these there…even if in later days their choruses suggest they were being used for capstan or windlass. So the extended chorus, which everybody sings, for "Hieland Laddie" goes:

Way, hey, and away we go
BONnie Laddie, HIElan Laddie
Way hey and away we go
BONnie hielan LADdie o

You've got the same phenomenon in "South Australia," in "Santiana," and perhaps in "Goodbye Fare Ye Well." So one thing not to do is separate "South Australia," for example, from the "proper" chanties category, since, although it is associated with heaving tasks, its form is related to the halyard ones. Also note how, although "Blow the Man Down" is clearly ascribed to halyards, it has been sung with a grand chorus too, of the likes of

(All) Blow the man up, bullies, Blow the man down
WAY hey BLOW the man down, etc…

The time points for pulls are still there. (This inclusion of a grand chorus in BTMD would appear as something "wrong" that some current performers do – similar to the way revival singers have added a mock chorus to "Bulley in the Alley." However, the "Knock a Man Down" in Cecil Sharp's collection has such a chorus.)

A lot of these chanties with the mock chorus appear well suited to windlass (pump style). The halyard and windlass chanties are closely related, if not interchangeable. So I would keep an eye towards both of them.

As a point of distinction from the mock chorus chanties, there are the "hooraw chorus" type. They have "true" choruses – and ones that don't mark any time points. The "hooraw chorus" type is appropriate ~only~ to capstan work (for which it was usually pulled in from other sources, like marches) and would not work for halyards/screwing. For instance:

Gwine to run all night, gwine to run all day…


Hurrah, hurrah, for the gals o' Dub-a-lin Town…

No pulls.

Versus "South Australia":

Heave away you rollin king
HEAVE away, HEAVE away

To summarize:

Halyard chanty (and probably cotton screwing chant) form:

Call-response-call-response. Clear "pull points" in the response.

Windlass chanty form:

Call-response-call-response, often with additional mock chorus that also contains "pull points." In this case, the "pull points" coincide, instead, with heaves on the pump handles.

Capstan chanty form:

1) Windlass chantey form (perhaps borrowed)
2) Long solo, long chorus (ex. The Limejuice Ship), as in many ballads and marches.
3) Call-response-call-response + long chorus (ex. Sacramento). It is debatable, to my mind, whether the call and response part of this form takes from halyard form or whether it is just coincidence. I lean towards the latter (and an example would be "A Rovin'", where the short, "mark well what I do say" does not strike me as a "pulling" refrain). The long form of "Roll the Cotton Down" is a good example of the transformation of a clearly for-halyards chanty into a clearly for-capstan one.

Lastly, some of the really slow cotton screwing type songs seem to have been adapted for slow capstan work. Even though their form looks like it would be well suited for (heavy) "2 pull" work, these songs (ex. "Lowlands"/$1.50) were much to slow to work in hoisting a yard. Due to their slow tempo and rubato rhythm, the old "pull points" cease to be emphasized at the capstan.