The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #145654   Message #3372830
Posted By: ChrisJBrady
06-Jul-12 - 11:08 AM
Thread Name: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
[i]"The song performed right now is the thing, not how it more or less sounded 150 years ago."[/i]

In which case what is claimed as shanty singing ain't that no more and never has been. What we hear today - even at sea shanty festivals - is something interpreted, imagined, fancied, by those who haven't a clue about what real tall ship sailing is about.

Surely 150 years ago shanties were for uniting the labour of sailors doing heavy manual work such as hauling up the topsail yards, lumbering around a capstan, bracing the yards, etc.

Now-a-days the chant "2, 6, heave" suffices - but having been lead on heavy rope pulling (bracing from say full port to full starboard) on a tall ship only a few weeks ago I know that the constant repetition of even that induces a trance state and that makes the work seem easier even if its not. At one point we even found "South Australia" worked as well for this.

Shanties performed on stage without the effort of manual work are but a shadow of what they used to be regardless of the intentions of the singers.

I think that it was Hugill's concern that shanties should be and sound as though they were songs to work to, not to sit back and be enjoyed as an entertainment.

It appears that A.L.Lloyd's imposition of a more musically academic approach irritated Hugill. I guess another irritation was calling a woman's backside a 'behind' or a 'derriere' instead of what it was to a sailor amongst liked minded men, all devoid of a woman's company for months at a time, namely an 'arse.' On board a working tall ship, especially a whaler, amongst a bunch of hard-working guys, there was no room for such Victorian sensibilities.

It is unfortunate that clips of sailors working to shanties are so rare. Even the film of the Peking rounding Cape Horn is devoid of such activity. But then the Peking had Jarvis winches for bracing the yards, and its not possible to sing a shanty when spinning the flywheel of those.

But there are films of other work songs. Not only the waulking songs of the women in the Scottish Highlands and Islands. But work songs such as:

Afro-American Work Songs in a Texas Prison,122      

Gandy Dancers,101

Gandy Dancers 1973,223

Singing Fishermen of Ghana,123

BTW there is a large collection of chanty material in the Alan Lomax Archives at: