The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #128220   Message #2890714
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
20-Apr-10 - 01:30 PM
Thread Name: The Advent and Development of Chanties
Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
MELBOURNE, AND THE CHINCHA ISLANDS, by George Washington Peck, 1854, has the following. It pertains to a trip in the ship PLYMOUTH ROCK from Boston to Melbourne (via Cape Horn) in early 1854. The passenger-narrator writes:

We experienced some very heavy weather in the South Pacific, and as the voyage lengthened, the tempers of many of our gold-hunters, most of whom had come from shops and farms, and had few resources for amusement, began to be sorely tried. To contribute my part to preserve them in order, I used to make catches out of sea-songs, and we got up a little glee club, whose performances were much admired. Almost every New Englander who has aught of a taste for music, has been to a " Singing School," and can read psalmody. But we had no psalm tunes for men's voices. To remedy this deficiency, I composed some for every Sunday, the last few weeks, which we sung to hymns appropriate to our situation. Annexed are some specimens of sea-songs, which may amuse our musical readers; the list might be extended indefinitely. What the first was manufactured out of, it is not easy to imagine. The second is a scrap of something familiar. Perhaps the third may be some Dutch melody. The last is the universal favorite. It goes to the words " Haul the bowline, the Black Star bowline, haul the bowline, the bowline HAUL!" The last word is only the cry in which all join, at the pull; the rest is sung by one alone.

He does not describe the working context; BOWLINE is being used for entertainment here. However, he does describe the form. Note that the chorus came only on the last word, not the entire last phrase ("haul the bowline, the bowline HAUL!") as is typically performed today. We can assume it was a sheet shanty. The melody is given, in major key. As for the other three melodies without words, I don't believe them to have been shanties.