The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #128220   Message #2898948
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
02-May-10 - 11:35 PM
Thread Name: The Advent and Development of Chanties
Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
There is a reference to HILO BOYS in a piece of historical fiction (?) in CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL, Nov. 1876.

The narrator, an Englishman coming from Calcutta, has somehow found himself in a boat off Malaysia with some Papuans. There is some sort of boat race.

The next point was to make the Papuans sing. They are regular darkies; and dear old Captain Orde used to say that without a song a nigger couldn't pull against a fly ; with it, he could haul against a rhinoceros. So whilst Abou was arranging the oars, I got a lot of Papuans, and began to teach them a medley. I could not for the life of me remember the words, but the chorus went: ' Hilo boys, hil-lo !' The rest of it is unimportant, and can be supplied with any gibberish ; so I filled in with Papuan, and taught them to pull strong and slow to the words 'Hilo boys, hil-lo!' There is instinctive time and melody in the poor fellows' composition, and they took to it wonderfully kindly. We pulled away at this slow and steady, and then I taught them another which had a chorus of 'Walk away.' This was much faster, and I soon got them to pull tremendously...

Then came the proa race, for which we took our place in a line. Moussoul started us with a matchlock, and Tamula got ahead at once, followed by the other proas. We were last, singing our ' Hilo boys, hil-lo !' keeping about a hundred feet in rear of old Tamula, and going so beautifully that Abou was in raptures, and whispered to me that we could win....

Any ideas on what this "Walk away" song might have been?