The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #126347   Message #2858744
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
07-Mar-10 - 08:58 PM
Thread Name: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
Subject: RE: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
I'm down with the regulation solo line thing, too.

To elaborate on Lighter's "My Son of David" example (hopefully not distorting it):

Yes, looking back we might think we had a different/distinct shanty if we were to keep a rigid textual analysis. However, with the "framework" definition, it would just be a possible variation. From the text evidence, we only get a snapshot of a specific variant that occurred at one place/time. If the "shanty" as a concept/framework were some big blob, then the recorded instance is like taking a cross-section of that, a thin slice to be laid down upon a slide.


Are you saying that a one-pull response is perhaps more basic/earlier in form than a two-pull response, and that a one line call with one line response is perhaps an earlier form than call/response/call/response?

Yes, earlier. I have been arguing that it predates the term "chant(y)," while suggesting that most of the songs associated with the term are the 2-pull form. And I am also suggesting (or at least subscribing to some ideas of others) that the 2-pull form, chant/y, spelled a very specific mode of *working* that might not have existed before that time period. It was a more disciplined and well-paced (arguably) style of work. It may have originated out of the absolute necessity of small crews handling heavy yards. Earlier, large crews could walk away with the halyard, or, pull hand-over-hand or maybe even pull willy-nilly! I hoisted the boom on a schooner (much lighter than yards on a square-sail) once out on the ocean and even with a small group, since they raised no chantey or even a 1-2-3-pull!, we just pulled willy-nilly. Heavy yards, by contrast, would require some sort of discipline if the crew was small. That discipline, in earlier times, may have been provided by the one-pull songs (re: Dana). However, my feeling from some experience having done that (mind you, not much) is that those one-pulls are not nearly as effective as the 2-pull form.

Backtracking... it may have been the work, in the new packet ships, that necessitated the 2-pulls. Yet it may also have been that the 2-pull style was in use in cotton-screwing, and it was adopted simply by custom, after which it was seen to work better. The 2-pull style does seem to have replaced the 1-pull at halyards (if the latter ever was very common to begin with).

What is the difference between a one line call/one line response, with a single pull, and what is usually called a "short haul chanty"? I know this is elemental, but I barely know one end of a rope from the other.

They are the same, so to speak. That is, the short haul chanties have 1 pull, whereas it is possible (in a few cases) for a long haul maneuver to also use a chantey with only one pull (examples of such chanties are in one of my subcategories, above). In the latter case, the chanty would go quicker. For the short haul chanty, think of fewer total pulls needed for the job, and stronger bursts of force. In general (though not necessarilly), each pull on the short haul doesn't take as much rope, so it is jerkier. Whereas the long haul pull gains more distance and is smoother.

short haul = power, for short job
long haul = stamina and pacing, for long job (cf. turning cotton jackscrews)

The short haul songs shade off into the very elemental cries of "sing-outs" "sweatin' up chants," etc.

And, if a chanty conforms to single call/single response, with single pull form, then it may be a candidate for an earlier time frame, even if we can't find a proof text to document it. Again, if I am understanding this correctly, it makes sense to me. I'm looking forward to some more examples.

Perhaps. Though it is not to say that many single-pulls could not have been made up later, too. For instance, I am fond of the idea that "Haul Away Joe" might have been cut from the same Big Blob as the minstrel song "Jim Along Josie." Perhaps not, but as there never ceased to be a need for short drags -- probably the most common task -- then we can't close the door on them.

As for examples, when I was earlier sorting your list into categories, I never got to a short drag category. Perhaps if you'd like to throw some potential titles up, we could mess with them. ;)