The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #128220   Message #2892804
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
23-Apr-10 - 11:43 AM
Thread Name: The Advent and Development of Chanties
Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
re: McBRIDE'S MAGAZINE, VOL. "Songs of the Slave."

For many years the steamboats on Western and Southern rivers were, almost without exception, manned by crews of negro slaves.

OK, that helps us with ideas of borrowing/exchange. Here we could call the boatmen's music as essentially "Black music," no?

the alternation of very hard labor and absolute idleness.

Sounds like a sailing ship!

Nine-tenths of the " river songs" (to give them a name) have the same refrain, and nearly all were constructed of single lines, separated by a barbarous and unmeaning a general rule the steamboat songs were tiresomely similar to the one just given.

Hence all the "O! O! O!" we've been seeing. While I have tagged several of the past song-texts seen as SAILOR FIREMAN, it may be that they just share a very *similar* refrain.

The leader would mount the capstan as the steamer left or entered port,

Capstan shanty!

and affect to sing the solo part from a scrap of newspaper, "the full strength of the company" joining in the chorus. The effect was ludicrous, for no imagination was expended on the composition. Such songs were sung only for the howl that was their chief feature.

That old "extempore" quality. And cf. Hugill's notes on the chorus of "Blackball Line," for example. He talks about the variability of that sort of "howling" chorus.

I understand better, from this, the earlier reference to the steamboat leaving the dock, and the singing connected with it by the many hands.