The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #128220   Message #3014573
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
24-Oct-10 - 06:24 PM
Thread Name: The Advent and Development of Chanties
Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
Excellent work, John!

GROG TIME is of special interest because it seems to be one of the earliest known "chanties."

What you've posted leads to 2 insights. Please forgive me if I am repeating what you've already said, or clarify if I get it wrong.

1. Though earlier we had THE ART OF BALLET (1915) as a source for this "Fanny" song, for the purposes of this thread we now have an earlier source for it: as per Frank, THE NEGRO SINGER'S OWN BOOK ca. 1845. That does not change our supposed date of the song being sung in 1840-42, but it does give us a more contemporary reference. I, for one, am pleased to have that.

I would *guess* that the author of ART OF BALLET got the song from NEGRO SINGER'S (or some derivation). So, the latter now becomes our primary source for this reference.

A small point: (Neither John nor I have as now seen NEGRO SINGER'S, so I am still guessing here.) It may have been that the author of ART OF BALLET reconstructed the scene of the cargo loading based on notes from an earlier book. Frank also notes cargo loading in New Orleans, so I assume (?) that in NEGRO SINGER'S there are notes on context (i.e. that ART OF BALLET could have used to sketch the scene.)

2.If the whaleman Smith copied down "Fanny" in his journal, I am not sure what implications that has that he *sang* it. Without having seen Frank's exact words, I can't form a solid opinion of how likely that was. Worldcat indicates that NEGRO SINGER'S includes no music notation (though there certainly may have been other ways to cook up the/a tune).

What stumps me most is why such an incidental, ad-libbed song would be taken and reproduced in later performance. Perhaps if a minstrel group took on the song and, after a rather artificial staged fashion, worked up a performance version of it, it would then become popular and spread itself, no longer subject to the usual "rules" of performance in the "folk" tradition.

I guess what I am voicing is my skepticism --though it may be due to lack of info-- that this "Fanny" song would have been performed by the whalemen 2 decades after it was observed on a New Orleans dock. Well, at least not in an "authentic" way. But anything is possible, I suppose.

I'll see if I can get a hold of NEGRO SINGER'S.