The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #128220   Message #2875816
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
30-Mar-10 - 02:34 PM
Thread Name: The Advent and Development of Chanties
Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
I'd like to begin pulling together the references to stuff going on in the 1840s. This means culling from posts already made. Well, here goes a start.

To begin with rowing songs again.

This was posted by Lighter, 1 March 2010. I hope my copy-pasting is not objectionable; I prefer to do that rather than link, here, so we can see all the texts in one place.

The American Journal of Music and Musical Vistor (Feb. 25, 1845), p.
53, gives what may be the earliest ex. of an American shanty printed
with its tune. After several verbosely chatty paragraphs typical of
the period, the anonymous writer offers "Heaving Anchor. A Sailor
Song. Furnished by N. C.," a "lad who, several years since, used to
fold our papers" and who has "recently returned from a voyage to
Smyrna, up the Mediterranean." The text:

Then walk him up so lively,
Ho, O, heave O,
Then walk him up so lively, hearties,
Ho, O, heave O.

I'm Bonny of the Skylark,
Ho, O, heave O,
Then walk him up so lively, hearties,
Ho, O, heave, O.

I'm going away to leave you,
Ho, O, heave O,
Then walk, &c.

The writer then notes that in "rowing, the words are slightly altered,
as follows":

Then walk him up so lively,
Row, Billy, row,
Then walk him up so lively, hearties,
Row, Billy, row.

I'm Bunny of the Skylark,
Row, Billy, row,
Then walk, &c.

I'm going away to leave you,
Row, Billy, row,
I'm going, &c.

Sorry I can't reproduce the modal tune, but it isn't much. Its shape
resembles that of "Bounty was a Packet Ship," but I wouldn't say
they're clearly related. The solo lines, "Then walk him up so lively,
hearties" interestingly fit the meter of Dana's "Heave Away, My Hearty
Bullies!" (Plus the word "hearty" appears, FWIW.)

What I think is more important than a possible connection to any of
Dana's shanties is the sheer primitiveness of this. Of the various
shanties "N.C." presumably heard on his voyage to Smyrna, why would he
remember this one? Or to put it another way, if tuneful shanties with
interesting lyrics were being sung (like "Rio Grande" and
"Shenandoah"), why report only this one? Surely the editor of the
magazine would have preferred to print a better song. The magazine
appeared several years before the possible "shanty boom" of the
California Gold Rush, though that too may mean nothing.

It doesn't pay to overinterpret, but one does get the feeling that
"Ho, O, Heave O" (which almost sounds like a Hebridean waulking
song)may be close in form to one of the earliest sea shanties "as we
know them," and that Dana's lost shanties may have been not much
better (a possible explanation of why he didn't offer any lyrics).

I want to call attention between the alleged shift (whichever direction) between rowing and capstan songs. The shape of the lyric is like a typical halyard chantey. That that makes sense for rowing, too. It is not "typical" for capstan, however, due to the nature of capstan work, it is no less likely IMO. FWIW, the song strikes me (without having seen the tune) as similar to "Blow, Boys, Blow." In support of that impression, I offer this rowing text recently discovered by John M.

Row, bullies, row