The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #128220 Message #2898512
Posted By: Lighter
02-May-10 - 10:01 AM
Thread Name: The Advent and Development of Chanties
Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
John, the "shanty-like" version has only three stanzas and a "grand" chorus "O! blow your horn, blow horn, blow" (2x).
Brown collected a few other "shanty-like" work-songs connected with corn-shucking. One even has a refrain of "Oho, we are most done," rather like "Let the Bulgine Run," though otherwise there's not much resemblance.
The more I think about the history of shanties, the more significant improvisation becomes. There seem to have been a few (perhaps late) shanties that had more than two or three vaguely "established" stanzas, but Bullen was surely right when he suggested that the lyrics were most often improvised.
That explains why most field-collected shanties are only two or three stanzas long. After that, the shantyman sang whatever came into his head, rhyming or not. Writers may have begun to think of the shanty as a "song genre" only when they noticed interesting tunes and that some recognized stanzas were almost always present in a "performance."
Before that, it was just somehwhat tuneful shouting.