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The Advent and Development of Chanties

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Steve Gardham 24 Mar 10 - 06:33 PM
Steve Gardham 24 Mar 10 - 06:55 PM
Lighter 24 Mar 10 - 07:05 PM
Lighter 24 Mar 10 - 07:25 PM
Gibb Sahib 24 Mar 10 - 07:39 PM
Gibb Sahib 24 Mar 10 - 10:08 PM
Gibb Sahib 24 Mar 10 - 10:13 PM
Gibb Sahib 25 Mar 10 - 12:05 AM
John Minear 25 Mar 10 - 08:20 AM
GUEST,Gibb Sahib 25 Mar 10 - 09:15 AM
GUEST,Gibb Sahib 25 Mar 10 - 12:30 PM
GUEST,mg 25 Mar 10 - 01:41 PM
Steve Gardham 25 Mar 10 - 04:12 PM
Gibb Sahib 25 Mar 10 - 05:23 PM
John Minear 25 Mar 10 - 05:31 PM
Steve Gardham 25 Mar 10 - 06:41 PM
Gibb Sahib 25 Mar 10 - 07:27 PM
Gibb Sahib 25 Mar 10 - 07:40 PM
Gibb Sahib 25 Mar 10 - 07:57 PM
Gibb Sahib 25 Mar 10 - 08:20 PM
Lighter 25 Mar 10 - 08:40 PM
Gibb Sahib 25 Mar 10 - 08:55 PM
Gibb Sahib 25 Mar 10 - 09:06 PM
Lighter 25 Mar 10 - 09:32 PM
Gibb Sahib 25 Mar 10 - 09:42 PM
Gibb Sahib 25 Mar 10 - 09:45 PM
Lighter 25 Mar 10 - 10:07 PM
Gibb Sahib 25 Mar 10 - 10:52 PM
Gibb Sahib 25 Mar 10 - 11:10 PM
doc.tom 26 Mar 10 - 07:24 AM
John Minear 26 Mar 10 - 08:46 AM
Lighter 26 Mar 10 - 11:58 AM
Lighter 26 Mar 10 - 12:35 PM
mikesamwild 26 Mar 10 - 03:08 PM
Steve Gardham 26 Mar 10 - 03:39 PM
shipcmo 26 Mar 10 - 04:33 PM
John Minear 26 Mar 10 - 04:36 PM
John Minear 26 Mar 10 - 05:50 PM
Gibb Sahib 26 Mar 10 - 07:44 PM
Gibb Sahib 26 Mar 10 - 07:58 PM
Charley Noble 26 Mar 10 - 10:13 PM
John Minear 27 Mar 10 - 07:07 AM
John Minear 27 Mar 10 - 07:31 AM
John Minear 27 Mar 10 - 07:38 AM
Steve Gardham 27 Mar 10 - 04:28 PM
Steve Gardham 27 Mar 10 - 05:08 PM
John Minear 28 Mar 10 - 09:06 AM
John Minear 28 Mar 10 - 10:28 AM
John Minear 28 Mar 10 - 01:03 PM
John Minear 28 Mar 10 - 01:25 PM
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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 06:33 PM

P3
The two principal Gulf cotton ports from 1830 to 60 were New Orleans and Mobile, both settled by the French; both still celebrate Mardi gras. I have not found any accounts of loading at New Orlaeans in this period, but there are two of Mobile that illustrate clearly both the source of the term and the circumstances of its transfer to a working song afloat. the first is from 'Twenty Years at sea, by F S Hill (1893), describing a visit to Mobile in 1844;

'the cotton....was now to be forced into the ship, in the process of stowing by the stevedores by very powerful jackscrews, each operated by a gang of four men, one of them the 'shantier', as he was called, from the French word 'chanteur', a vocalist. this man's sole duty was to lead in the rude songs, largely improvised, to the music of which his companions screwed the bales into their places....
'A really good shantier received larger pay than the other men in the gang, although his work was much less laborious. their songs which always had a lively refrain or chorus, were largely what are now called topical, and often not particularly chaste.'


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 06:55 PM

I'll assume it's still worth giving the full letter even though we have a later article by him.

The second account is by Charles Nordhoff in 'The Merchant Vessel' (1855) of loading at mobile about 1848:
'Five hands compose a gang, four to work the screws, and one to do the headwork.....The foreman begins the song, and at the end of every two lines the screw is forced to make one revolution, thus gaining perhaps two inches. Singing, or 'chanting', as it is called, is an invariable accompaniment to working in cotton, and many of the screw- gangs have an endless collection of songs, rough and uncouth, both in words and melody, but answering well the purpose of making all pull together, and enlivening the heavy toil. the foreman is the 'chanty-man' who sings the song, the gang only joining in the chorus, which comes in at the end of every line, and at the end of which again comes the pull at the screw handles. One song generally suffices to bring home the screw, when a new set is got upon the bale, and a fresh song is commenced.
'The 'chants', as may be supposed, have more rhyme than reason in them. the tunes are generally plain and montonous, as are most of the capstan tunes of sailors....The men who yearly resort to Mobile Bay to screw cotton are, as may be imagined, a rough set. they are mostly English and Irish sailors, who, leaving their vessels here, remain until they have saved a hundred or two dollars, then ship for Liverpool, London, or whatever port may be their favourite, there to spree it all away, and return to work out another supply.'

Thus, in 1844, Hill recognised 'shantier' as a french word; in 1848 Nordhoff found the term as 'chanty-man'; neither used 'shanty' for the song itself, although Nordhoff commented on the similarity of the screw-gang songs to the capstan songs afloat. By 1861 the shanty-man's song had become the shanty. the word 'shantyman' and ;shanty' are ceretainly American in origin, and belong in the 'Dictionary of American English'.                         JOHN LYMAN


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 07:05 PM

Thanks, Steve. The article by Lyman that Gibb cites is pretty well known (well, to some people). Presumably it incorporates some later thoughts.

So far as it relates to "shanty/ chantey," Lyman's later article chiefly reports his discovery of the word "chantey-man" in Nordhoff. He offers only two bits of evidence to support a French derivation. First, "chantey-men" were known to Nordhoff in N.O. at the same time as the hoosiers were singing their own chants. (N.O. makes a French influence conceivable.) Second, Frederick S. Hill in 1893 recalls that fifty years earlier, in Mobile, the singing cotton-screwers were led by a man they called the "shantier," which Hill derives from

It is possibly significant that the first English appearance of "shanty/ chantey" is in the apparent compound "chantey-man" rather than standing by itself, but with so little evidence available it may mean nothing.

It would be much more impressive if there existed a French word in use in N.O. or the Gulf or Caribbean area that sounded something like "chanteyman" or "chantey gang" and also meant something vaguely related or relatable. In that case, "chantey" could have been a back formation from, say, "chanteyman." But there seem to be no candidates.


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 07:25 PM

Damn! That got away from me in the middle of an important sentence! While I was revising it too!

Hill recalls that in 1843 the soloist among cotton-screwers was called the "shantier," which he derives "from the French word chanteur, a vocalist."

The more I think about this, the better it sounds. (Disregard the final paragraph of my last post as needlessly hypothetical.) *If* Hill is right about "shantier" in Mobile in 1843, and *if* the word "shantier" came from N.O. (I don't know how many French speakers were screwing cotton in Mobile in the 1840s - presumably very few), an anglicization of "chanteur" might be the source.

In that case, "shanty" would be a back formation from "shantier," on the assumption that a "shantier" was one who "shanties" and that the special songs he sings are properly called "shanties."

That would neatly explain the troublesome sound change from "ch" to "sh," and would replace the improbable idea that English-speaking seamen would have mysteriously adopted a French command to "Chantez!"

Lyman doesn't explicitly endorse the "chanteur" etymology, which is why I missed it the first time through. But yes, I think "shanty" could have come from "chanteur" through "shantier." (Hill seems to be the only writer to use "shantier," but since "chanteur" is indeed French for a male singer, the etymology of to "shanty," etc., is quite plausible.)

Case closed? It's tempting to say so.


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 07:39 PM

Case NOT closed in my books. :)

But I don't wish to get into it just now, ha ha!


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 10:08 PM

Stan Hugill, who had taken stock as well of his shanty-collecting predecessors, too, had turned up no shipboard work-song accounts from the 18th century. However by the beginning of the 18th century, we might suppose sailing vessels with European crews were singing songs at the capstan, though this work was also done to fife-playing. The earliest references I have seen to that is the supposedly 1810s mention of the phrase "Heave, heave, my brave boys, and in sight," from the poem, "Sailors' Song." However, work at the spoke windlass to a song is referenced even earlier, 1803-ish, in which the European crews "fixing their bars therein, give a sudden jerk at the same instant; in which movement they are regulated by a sort of Song pronounced by one of the number."

Actually "singing" at halliards may have been less frequent. Elsewise it was just shouting, chanting, or otherwise too "primitive" to inspire mention. The first I am seeing may well be the "Cheerly" reference from Quebec, 1825. I also put stock in the claim from the UNITED SERVICES MAGAZINE, 1834, piece mentioned by Steve, which claims "Cheerly Men" was a hauling song in use for some time. Rather than assume that this means there was a repertoire of "halliard shanties" (plural(, I am inclined to believe that "Cheerly" was one of only very few chants that were standard material for this operation, e.g. aboard war ships of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars era. Let us not assume that "halyard shanties" as a class necessarily even existed yet. There may have only been "sing outs," for hand-over-hand hauling, or fife and drum playing for the stamp and go maneuver.

My contention is that "halyard chanties" constituted a major, new class of work-song. It was one that added tons of repertoire to shipboard worksongs AND, I think, probably inspired the paradigm by which one was expected to customarilly sing whilst doing any work aboard ship -- i.e. "chanties." I think this particular kind of shanty, which is clearly distinct from capstan songs and perhaps even from the "barely removed from a sing-out" style of "Cheerly Men," was introduced concurrently with the term "chanty" and, as I said, with this new notion of songs as an essential "tool" of sailing. With that paradigm in place, the repertoire of songs continued to grow until it flattened out and, finally, shanties were killed by steam.

So while they were preceded by the distinctly different heaving songs of capstan and windless, and, I believe presently, also distinct from the few standardized hauling chants, the halyard chanties (which I like to call "chanties, proper")came about later. The aim here is to discover when / how/ from where they came about. The sense it that the time period was early 19th century, so I am trying to steer this course from he early end of that.

So far, it is African Diaspora rowing songs that are shaping up as closest progenitors to "chanties, proper" in this time period and geographic setting. However, because of my prejudices, I may be turning up more links to those.

If anyone has any other references from this time period, 1800s-1820s, from a likely geographic area, that could suggest *immediate* progenitors to the new halliard chanties, I would love to see them. So far, with respect to pulling chanties from this period, I only see definite references to "Cheerly Men" and to the "Sally Brown, oh, ho." In my opinion at this point, those may not represent the classic halyard chanty forms that were to emerge. According to another interpretation, they may be among the very earliest, which were to develop as time went on. (As I stated earlier, I tend to think that at this point in history, the new halyard chanty form did not so much evolve as it was taken over wholesale from another work activity. And for that reason, I don't feel a need for continuity between "Cheerly" and the later songs.) Incidentally, "Cheerly" and "Sally Brown" -- considering that we've no basis to assume the Sally Brown of this reference was the latter-day chanty -- may be closely related. "Cheerly" (along with "Haul Her Away," "Nancy Fanana" etc) mentions nam


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 10:13 PM

cont...

...women's names as per its custom. It could have been "O Sally Brown, oh oh, CHEERLY MAN!" "Oh Polly Walker oh oh, CHEERLY MAN!"

Let's move on to the 1830s and see how the picture evolves. Again, I don't think we can say for sure that the new halliard shanties were there yet (i.e. as per my criteria). We are yet in the realm of interpretation, where common sense suggests that something must have been around "a while" before it is mentioned in literature. Still, let's see what the literature has to say...with respect to 1830s now.


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 12:05 AM

errata:

"However by the beginning of the **19th** century, we might suppose sailing vessels with European crews were singing songs at the capstan..."


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: John Minear
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 08:20 AM

Here is a reference to a rowing song from Fanny Kemble's JOURNAL OF A RESIDENCE ON A GEORGIA PLANTATION IN 1838-1839:

http://books.google.com/books?id=w34FAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA128&dq=%22Jenny+gone+away&cd=3#v=onepage&q=%22Jenny%20gone%20away&f=false

The setting is a boat trip across the Altamaha River from the Georgia coast to the St. Simon's island. Kemble gives a detailed description of the boat, the process of rowing and of the singing, and offers these words:

"Jenny shake her toe at me,
   Jenny gone away;
Jenny shake her toe at me,
   Jenny gone away.
Hurrah! Miss Susy, oh!
   Jenny gone away;
Hurrah! Miss Susy, oh!
   Jenny gone away."

A bit further on she quotes a fragment from another song:

   "Fare you well, and good-by, oh, oh!
   I'm gin' away to leave you, oh, oh!"

The "Jenny gone away" reminds me of the song "Ginny's Gone to Ohio". Here is another reference to the "Jenny" song from a little later (sorry to jump the gun a bit) in 1843, on the occasion of a corn-shucking. Here you have a good description of a "corn-shucking shantyman"! (my label) :

http://books.google.com/books?id=cYAAAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA244&dq=Jenny+gone+away&cd=6#v=onepage&q=Jenny%20gone%20away&f=false

And here's a footnote about the reference to Jenny "shaking her toe":

http://books.google.com/books?id=bFLiWrJo5_MC&pg=PA261&dq=Jenny+gone+away&lr=&cd=11#v=onepage&q=Jenny%20gone%20away&f=false


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: GUEST,Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 09:15 AM

Thanks, John M., for starting off the 1830s with such an appropriate quote. It connects nicely to Basil Hall's reference to rowing in the same part of Georgia from 1828. And now we've lyrics -- plus a connection to the similarly-paradigmed (my notion) corn-shucking.

I am going to file in another rowing reference from the 1830s.

This is the one from TRANSATLANTIC SKETCHES (1833) by JE Alexander, in which a river trip in Guiana in 1831 is described )(cf. Pinckard's 1790s observation, above). There is a rowing song which is a variation of what is now known as "The Sailor Likes His Bottle O".

    De bottley oh ! de bottley oh !
    De neger like the bottley oh !
Right early in the marning, de neger like the bottley oh !
    A bottle o'rum, loaf a bread,
    Make de neger dandy oh!
Right early in de marning, de neger like de bottley oh !

The passage seems to also refer by title to "Velly well, yankee, velly well oh" , which may be the "Bear Away Yankee," which Abrahams
collected in the Caribbean in the 1960s.


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: GUEST,Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 12:30 PM

Also from the early 30s is this reference:

"Waldie's Select Circulating Library," II (Dec.
24,1833), p. 581:

"The pirates pulled merrily for their schooner, singing in chorus the
well known West Indian canoe song:

"The captain's gone ashore;
The mate has got the key;
Hurrah! my jolly boys,-
'Tis grog time o' day!"

This "Grog Time of Day" is the song sung by the Jamaican stevedores in 1811. John M. has just demonstrated an instance of the same work-song being used for both rowing and corn-shucking. Here, there is something important, I think: a song being used for rowing and also for loading cargo. The next step in the "chain" may have been using such a song aboard ships.

In the 1811 Jamaica case, the capstan in vaguely alluded to. However, I am unclear why the stevedores would be using a capstan to load cargo. I can imagine it working, but, unless it was extremely heavy, that would seem less efficient than hauling the cargo to a height, in halyards fashion. In point of fact, another reference I've seen (it may come later) talks about loading in this hauling/hoisting fashion. And, even better, Lydia Parrish has a photo of chantey-singing stevedores from her Georgia Sea Islands community performing such an action, just as one would haul halyards on a ship.

It would be "nice" to imagine the 1811 stevedores were also doing that when singing "Grog Time", as it would establish a firmer link between the idea of a rowing action and a halyard-hauling action. However, I'm not sure that can be established. If the stevedores were singing "Grog Time" at the capstan, then it would not indicate any necessary or special "timed action" section to the song that helped it to jump from one similar task to another. No, it would just be a song, perhaps especially associated with work among West Indians, and with a steady rhythm to be sure, but not necessarilly bound to specific jobs. Of course, as has been noted, a song with special "timed points" is nonetheless easily adapted to capstan, regardless.


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 01:41 PM

Would the French, Metis, Iriquois, Hawaiian etc. voyageurs made any contribution?

What about the Irish slaves in Jamaica in 1600s? Intermarried and sadly purposly bred with other slaves. But music was supposed to have merged back then. mg


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 04:12 PM

'In the 1811 Jamaica case, the capstan is vaguely alluded to'
How vaguely? Was the word 'capstan' used? Could the writer be confusing it with some sort of windlass, crab winch or even a type of cotton screw?


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 05:23 PM

Thanks, Steve, I was intending to revisit the passage to see what had struck me as unclear. I don't have the text with me, so I am entering here the passage as cited in Hugill's SfSS:

Our seamen having left the ship, the harbour work was performed by a gang of Negroes. These men will work the whole day at the capstan under a scorching sun with almost no intermission. They beguiled the time by one of them singing one line of an English song, or a prose sentence at the end of which all the rest join in a short chorus. The sentences which prevail with the gang we had aboard were as follows...

It can be fairly assumed that their songs were sung at the capstan, however it does not say explicitly. (For example, they may have used a capstan but along with other tools, too.) To be honest, I would assume the men working working the cargo by means of a capstan and whilst singing the songs. My only hang-up is the dissonance between the use of capstan here and what seems like a more sensible use of simple hauling on a rope as cited in similar cases (e.g. the excellent photo in Parrish's book). The cargo must have been very heavy, as for example in the sketch of loading timber through the bow-port, by capstan, that appears in Hugill's book. But I can't really say; can only accept with slight disappointment :) that, yes, it was a capstan they were using!


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: John Minear
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 05:31 PM

Caroline Gillman, in her "Preface" to RECOLLECTIONS OF A SOUTHERN MATRON (1852) says,

"The "SOUTHERN MATRON" was penned in the same spirit, and with the same object, as the "New England Housekeeper" - to present as exact a picture as possible of local habits and manners. Every part, except the "love passages," is founded in events of actual occurrence."   Charleston, S.C., 1837 (p. iii)

On page 76, she gives an account of a boat trip and the singing of a rowing song called "Hi de good boat Neely", with three verses:

"Hi de good boat Neely?
She row bery fast, Niss Neely!
An't no boat like a' Miss Neely,
        Ho yoi'!

Who gawing to row wid Miss Neely?
Can't catch a' dis boat Neely -
Nobody show he face wid Neely,
        Ho, yoi?

Maybe Maus Lewis take de oar for Neely,
Bery handsom boat Miss Neely!
Maus Lewis nice captain for Neely,
        Ho, yoi!

Here is the link:

http://books.google.com/books?id=1bJOTh_yVBcC&pg=PA76&dq=Hi+de+good+boat+Neely&cd=4#v=onepage&q=Hi%20de%20good%20boat%20Neely&f=


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 06:41 PM

Using a capstan and some sort of jib-boom like a crane with heavy cargo would certainly make sense. If it was just the men pulling on the rope through pulley blocks it could slip back. On the other hand it just says 'harbour work' which could easily mean warping large vessels around the docks from one berth to another.


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 07:27 PM

A contemporaneous reference to rowing song style in Sierra Leone, West Africa. 1834.

"But from each and all proceeded the rower's song. No negro spins his canoe through the water without a melody, and, if he be not alone, without the long wild chorus. All sing; and on the rivers of these glowing climes, where all is genial and laughing, as the song breaks upon his ear, the traveller forgets to be a critic. The voices may be harsh when near, the words uncouth, the artists terrible to look upon, the music startling from contempt of all artificial rule ; but, as the simple cadence comes floating over the water, and the strong chorus is mellowed by distance, when the unities of time and place are remembered, there is something inexpressibly affecting in the strange song; at least I found it so.

...

The words of these songs are generally extempore. My captain interpreted several for me. The prevailing subjects were love and irony; occasionally, as will be seen in the sequel, revenge and war formed the theme. A stanza is sung in a loud sostenuto recitative by a single voice ; and at its conclusion the whole crew rush into a stormy chorus, at the same instant springing at their oars with renewed vigour. Several of their effusions amused themselves highly; and, as the extempore verse concluded with some pungent and unexpected idea, shouts of laughter delayed their chorus."

THE WHITE MAN'S GRAVE (1836), by FH Rankin.pp199-201.


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 07:40 PM

A much later, auxiliary reference to the last. Here the foreign observer is on the Gabon River. RH Milligan writes this in THE JUNGLE FOLK OF AFRICA, 1908.

Their singing, like their instrumental music, has not much "tune" to it, but there is always a stirring rhythm and a certain weird and touching quality, which impressed me the more because I could never quite understand it,—the same elusive charm that characterizes the singing of the negroes of the Southern States. I do not refer to the negro songs composed by white men, which are entirely different, but the melodies that the negro sings at his work. The native songs are of the nature of chants, and turn upon several notes of a minor scale. But it is not quite our minor scale. There is one prominent and characteristic note, which I confess defied me, though it may have been a minor third slightly flat. I found it very difficult to reduce their songs to musical notation.

He seems to refer to "blue" notes. Also raises the issue of what much earlier observers meant when they described "plaintive minor melodies" -- and the issue of interpreting their musical notations nowadays.

The words of most of the songs are improvised by the leading voice, and have a regular refrain in which all join. But if they wish to sing in chorus, as in their dance-songs, any words will serve the purpose and the same sentence may be repeated for an hour. "Our old cow she crossed the road " were luminous with propriety and sentiment in comparison with the words that they will sometimes sing in endless repetition. " The leopard caught the monkey's tail," "The roots grow underneath the ground," are samples of their songs. Their canoesongs I like best of all. The rhythm is appropriate and one almost hears the sound of the paddles. They sing nearly all the time as they use the paddle or the oar, and on a long journey they say it makes the hard work easier. If they should take a white man on a journey and, not being his regular workmen, should expect a "dash"—a fee, or present, in African vernacular—the leading voice will sing the white man's praises on the journey, alluding in particular to his benevolence, while the others all respond, seeking thus by barefaced flattery 'and good-natured importunity to shame the meanness out of him.


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 07:57 PM

Another 1830s rowing song. I am taking the liberty of copying this from Lighter's post elsewhere on Mudcat.

*SNIP*

Not quite "Sally Brown," but sung by slave boatmen while rowing on the
Cape Fear River in North Carolina and written down (with a very simple
tune) in 1830. From David S. Cecelski, "The Waterman's Song" (2001):

Sally was a fine girl, ho! Sally, ho!
Sally was a fine girl, ho! Sally, ho!

The "collector," Moses A. Curtis, noted: "repeated ad infinitum and
accompanied by a trumpet obligato by the helmsman."

*SNIP*


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 08:20 PM

From the Memoirs of Elkanah Watson, pub. 1856. The author relates a scene from 1777 (!) in South Carolina.

As evening closed in, we embarked in a good ferry-boat, manned by four jolly, well-fed negroes, to cross Winyaw Bay, a distance of four miles. The evening was serene, the stars shone brightly, and the poor fellows amused us, the whole way, by singing their plaintive African songs, in cadence with the oars. We reached Georgetown in the evening.

"plaintive" again :)

Anyway, this is interesting to note how at the earlier date they were "African" songs (presumably not in English language?). See upthread for Pinckard's 1790s expedition and the rowing song chorus that had seemingly African-dialect words mixed with English. Later it is all English. What I'm hoping to establish is the idea that the style of rowing songs current in parts of West Africa was maintained among African-American rowers in the New World. All this is by way of setting up ONE ASPECT of the work-song context from which "chanties" may have emerged: distinctly African-styled practice of singing while rowing. This is not to say that the melodies, for example, were necessarily maintained "from Africa," but that the paradigm and form persisted.


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 08:40 PM

Interesting that although the writers like to use words like "plaintive," none seems to choose the words "minor" (or even "modal"). Once again, this may be an artifact of too few accounts, but it is certainly more consistent with Gibb's idea that "blue" notes were used rather than not. If some later shanty tunes are considered (I'm thinking of one or two of the "Sally Brown" tunes), the early writers could have meant "modal," but my guess is that musical education in the early 19th C. at least mentioned that modes existed or "used to" exist. Maybe a musicologist knows more about that likelihood.

If we had a hundred characterizations instead of just a handful, we might be able to draw a sounder conclusion.

OTOH, if the "blues" scale really is an African importation (is it for sure?), it would be perverse of African-descended rowers not to use it two hundred years ago.


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 08:55 PM

Those are my rowing songs for 1830s. Now, some firemen's songs from that decade. I am not sure of the exact nature of work of the (mainly Black) "firemen" on river steamboats. Were they shoveling in coal, as on a locomotive? Was it logs they threw into a furnace, down below? More info, please! Whatever the case, the environment evokes the phrase, "Fire down below."

THE RAMBLER IN NORTH AMERICA, 1832-1833, Vol 2., by CJ Latrobe, 1835.

Of a steamboat on the Ohio River, mentions "the wild song of the negro fire-men." (pg 281).

Next, a dramatic scene in BENTLEY'S MISCELLANY, vol 4, New York, Sept. 1839,
taking place in a steamboat. Here's the song.

"THE STOKER'S CHAUNT.
The ebben tide ib floating past,
Fire down below!
The arrival time ib coming fast.
Fire down below!
Racoon cry in de maple tree,
Fire down below!
The wood ib on fire, and the fire a sea,
Fire down below!
Oo a oo oh ! fire down below!"

A chaunty? It appears to be related to a "fire down below" chantey that will continue to appear in the 19th century. Here is a rendition of the chantey as culled by Hugill, if one would like to fit the above lyrics to the framework:

The Sailor Fireman

Incidentally, Hugill cited it as a possible source for the melody to the chantey "Sacramento."


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 09:06 PM

Lighter, the SERVICE AFLOAT reference uses "minor." I swear there are more, but I don't want to look for them, right now. In any case, I have been reading "minor" as some interpretation of listeners who aren't sure where to "file" the blue notes. They are between "major" and "minor," and I figure that, like when one does when he hears a phoneme contrast that doesn't exist in his own language, he files it as one with which he is familiar. I don't think 19th century writers had a clue how to file in "blue notes." The author from 1908, above, shows the beginnings of at least recognizing something that is to be considered on its own. If memory serves, Arnold, in Bullen's collection of 1914, also begins to take "note" of this tonality!

"Plaintive" suggests "minor" to me, even if they are not using the latter word. And I find that at odds with the fact that very few chanties as they have come down to us today are in minor modes. One possible explanation is that, again writers did not have a category for blue notes, and they just notated the songs as if they were in major modes (I realize this contradicts what I just said about "filing as minor," but I think there are different issues between notating and the lay-observers descriptions.) Or, possibly, when such songs were adopted by White sailors, the "blue note" tonality was not maintained; they became tunes in major.


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 09:32 PM

Another one of my posts didn't make it through the ether. To sum it up:

"Minor" is more likely to entail "plaintive" than "plaintive" is to entail "minor." "Plaintive," at least as I understand it, could cover minor, modal, and (hypothetically) blusey.

Guesswork: an early 19th C. writer hearing a blues scale and perceiving it as systematic rather than accidental (i.e., sung by someone with a tin ear) would have used words like "weird," "wild," or "savage" to describe it. Otherwise the words would be more like "out of tune," "off-pitch," "flat," "discordant," etc. ISTR "wild" being used in at least one description, though I suppose it could just as easily refer to timing as to tonality.

How far back does the blues scale go? Did it originate in Africa before 1800? Or do we know?


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 09:42 PM

Mention of the singing of cotton-stowers/screwers occured in Savannah the 20s, above. Now in the 30s, we get an actual lyric.

John M.'s intro:

*snip*

And here is another early reference, that can be dated as December
31,1838. Phillip Henry Gosse, in his LETTERS FROM ALABAMA (1859), also
mentions the cotton-screwing shanty, "Fire the ringo" (page 305-306,
at the very end of his book):

*snip*

On the Alabama River, here is the passage:

I have been amused by observing the crew stowing the cargo. After what I said of the way in which the cotton is screwed into the bales, you would suppose that these were incapable of further compression. But it is not so. When the stowed bales in the hold are in contact with the upper deck, another layer has to be forced in. This is effected, bale by bale, by powerful jack-screws, worked by four men. When you see the end of the bale set against a crevice, into which you could scarcely push a thin board, you think it impossible that it can ever get in; and, indeed, the operation is very slow, but the screw is continually turned, and the bale does gradually insinuate itself.

The men keep the most perfect time by means of their songs. These ditties, though nearly meaningless, have much music in them, and as all join in the perpetually recurring chorus, a rough harmony is produced, by no means unpleasing. I think the leader improvises the words, of which the following is a specimen; he singing one line alone, and the whole then giving the chorus, which is repeated without change at every line, till the general chorus concludes the stanza:—

"I think I hear the black cock say,
    Fire the ringo, fire away !
They shot so hard, I could not stay;
    Fire the ringo ! fire away !
So I spread my wings, and flew away;
    Fire the ringo ! &c.
I took my flight and ran away ;
    Fire, &c.
All the way to Canaday;
    Fire, &c.
To Canaday, to Canaday,
    Fire, &c.
All the way to Canaday.
    Ringo ! ringo ! blaze away!
   Fire the ringo ! fire away!"

Sometimes the poet varied the subject by substituting political for zoological allusions. The victory over the British at New Orleans — that favourite theme with all Americans—was chosen. Thus:—

" Gin'ral Jackson gain'd the day ;
   Fire the ringo, &c.
At New Orleans he won the day;
    Fire the ringo, fire away!"

I wonder about the possible relationship between the cotton-screwing chants and the steamboat stoker's "chaunt" -- the chorus of "FIRE", on the proper beat, being the connecting feature.


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 09:45 PM

re: Blues scale

Sorry, I don't know. I am sure someone had written about its "history." My hunch is that that history would have been established in exactly the way you and I are doing -- i.e., in the absence of recordings and adequate notations, by going by the descriptions of observers.


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 10:07 PM

It looks like the current learned opinion is that
"blues scale(s)" are an African-American innovation. Acc. to James Lincoln Collier in the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, 2nd ed.:

"[West African music] used scales roughly similar to European ones, but they tended to be pentatonic and seem to have avoided half-steps, either by skipping over them or by the raising or lowering of one of the pitches to widen the interval; pitches were frequently inexact by the standards of European music....

"[J]ust as some African tribal musicians seem to have avoided half-steps, so the slaves tended to adjust the diatonic scale to similar effect by lowering the third, seventh, and sometimes fifth scale degrees microtonally, thereby creating the so-called blue note...."

I assume this means that nobody found blue notes in Africa before the advent of commercial blues-playing radio. That would have been well into the anthropologically sophisticated 20th C., so if nobody noticed them it would be strong, though not conclusive, evidence for an American origin.


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 10:52 PM

So much for rowing, cotton stowing, and firemen's songs of the 1830s (i.e. that I've turned up so far). Now to the shipboard work-songs attributed to that time.

These references are well know, so I will try to be brief.

Here is John M.'s intro to Marryat's text

*snip

April 3, 1837, the ship "Quebec" hoisted her anchor
in the harbor at Portmouth and sailed to New York. At the [windlass] the
crew sang "Sally Brown", according to an eye-witness, Captain Marryat,
a passenger, who recorded the words and the ongoing dialog in his book
A DIARY IN AMERICA, p.38-44.

*snip*

The crew were working at a pump windlass. Dobinson's invention had just been patented in 1832!

patent

I don't know if that was just an "improvement" or if it was *the* new pump style windlass altogether; from Marryat's surprise, it sounds like the latter. The earlier spoke windlass, pictured in the Moby Dick clip up-thread, is the one that required removing and replacing of handspikes into slots after each turn. The pump windlass chanteys tend to be akin to halyard chanties.

Here's the extended passage:

//
10, A. M.—" All hands up anchor." I was repeating to myself some of the stanzas of Mrs. Norton's " Here's a Health to the Outward-bound," when I cast my eyes forward I could not imagine what the seamen were about; they appeared to be pumping, instead of heaving, at the windlass. I forced my way through the heterogeneous mixture of human beings, animals, and baggage which crowded the decks, and discovered that they were working a patent windlass, by Dobbinson—a very ingenious and superior invention. The seamen, as usual, lightened their labour with the song and chorus, forbidden by the etiquette of a man-of-war. The one they sung was peculiarly musical, although not refined ; and the chorus of "Oh! Sally Brown," was given with great emphasis by the whole crew between every line of the song, sung by an athletic young third mate. I took my seat on the knight-heads—turned my face aft— looked and listened.

" Heave away there, forward."
" Aye, aye, sir."
" ' Sally Brown—oh! my dear Sally."' (Single voice),
" ' Oh ! Sally Brown.'" (Chorus)
" ' Sally Brown, of Buble Al-ly.'" (Single voice).
" ' Oh ! Sal-ly Brown.'" (Chorus).
" Avast heaving there; send all aft to clear the boat."
" Aye, aye, sir. Where are we to stow these casks, Mr. Fisher ?"
" Stow them ! Heaven knows ; get them in, at all events."
" Captain H.! Captain H. ! there's my piano still on deck; it will be quite spoiled—indeed it will."
" Don't be alarmed, ma'am ; as soon as we're under weigh we'll hoist the cow up, and get the piano down."
" What! under the cow? "
" No, ma'am; but the cow's over the hatchway."
" Now, then, my lads, forward to the windlass."
" ' I went to town to get some toddy-' "
"' Oh! Sally Brown."
" ' T'wasn't fit for any body.' "
" ' Oh ! Sally Brown.' "—
" Out there, and clear away the jib."
" Aye, aye, sir."
" Mr. Fisher, how much cable is there out ?"
" Plenty yet, sir.—Heave away, my lads.'"
"' Sally is a bright mulattar.'"
" ' Oh ! Sally Brown.' "
" ' Pretty girl, but can't get at her.' "
" ' Oh! '"—
" Avast heaving; send the men aft to whip the ladies in.—Now, miss, only sit down and don't be afraid, and you'll be in, in no time.— Whip away, my lads, handsomely ; steady her -with the guy; lower away.—There, miss, now you're safely landed."
" Landed am I ? I thought I was shipped.«' " Very good, indeed—very good, miss ; you'll make an excellent sailor, I see."
" I should make a better sailor's wife, I expect, Captain H."
"Excellent! Allow me to hand you aft; you'll excuse me.—Forward now, my men ; heave away !"
" ' Seven years I courted Sally.'"
" ' Oh! Sally Brown.'"
" ' Seven more of shilley-shally.'"
"'Oh! Sally Brown.'"
" ' She won't wed "—
" Avast heaving. Up there, and loose the topsails ; stretch along the topsail-sheets.—Upon my soul, half these children will be killed.— Whose child are you ?"
" I—don't—know."
" Go and find out, that's a dear.—Let fall ; sheet home; belay starboard sheet; clap on the larboard; belay all that.—Now, then, Mr. Fisher."
" Aye, aye, sir.—Heave away, my lads."
" ' She won't wed a Yankee sailor.'"
"'Oh! Sally Brown.'"
For she's in love with the nigger tailor."_
"'Oh! Sally Brown.'"—
" Heave away, my men ; heave, and in sight. Hurrah ! my lads."
" ' Sally Brown—oh ! my dear Sally !'"
"' Oh! Sally Brown!'"
" ' Sally Brown, of Buble Alley.'"
" 'Oh! Sally Brown."'
" ' Sally has a cross old granny.'"
" Oh ! ' "—
" Heave and fall—jib-halyards—hoist away." " Oh! dear—oh! dear." " The clumsy brute has half-killed the girl! —Don't cry, my dear.''...

//

Note that this "Sally Brown" has the simple call-response-call-response form of a halyard chantey. No "chorus" was needed, though what I call a "mock chorus" (having the same structure as the rest of the song) could be there for this job (it's not in this case).


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 11:10 PM

The famous (i.e. due to being cited by Doerflinger as his earliest chantey reference) passage in THE QUID (1832), containing observations of a passenger in an East India Company ship, is as follows:

//

All who have been on board ship must recollect heaving at the capstan. It is one of the many soul-stirring scenes that occur on board when all hands are turned up; the motley group that man the bars, the fiddler stuck in a corner, the captain on the poop encouraging the men to those desperate efforts that seem, to the novice, an attempt at pulling up the rocks by the root. It's a time of equality; idlers, stewards and servants, barbers and sweepers, cooks' mates and cooks-mate's ministers, doctors' mates, and loblolly boys; every man runs the same road, and hard and impenetrable is that soul that does not chime in with the old ditties, "Pull away now, my Nancy, O!" and the long "Oh!" that precedes the more musical strain of

"Oh her love is a sailor,
His name is Jemmy Taylor,
He's gone in a whaler,
To the Greenland sea:"

or

"Oh! if I had her,
Eh then if I had her,
Oh! how I could love her,
Black although she be."

//

The fiddle player is notable. The singing appears to be "for fun."


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: doc.tom
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 07:24 AM

Apropos describing scales:
An untrained ear would not have had an appropriate language to describe out-of-the-ordinary scales - modal, blue, un-tempered or variable - their ear would only have understood the 'normal' contemporary major/minor 'classical' tempered structures which transfered into the likes of Santy Anna, Dixie, etc. Even trained musicians had problems - one classically trained musician reportedly said to Cecil Sharp "I simply do not believe that a peasant singer can sing in the Dorian mode when most musicians don't even know what it is." (!)
TomB


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: John Minear
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 08:46 AM

Here is a selection of cotton loading and boat rowing songs (I think), with music, that I haven't come across before now. It's in a piece from 1918, in a larger collection called JAZZ IN PRINT (1856-1929): AN ANTHOLOGY OF SELECTED EARLY READINGS IN JAZZ, by Karl Koenig (2002). The songs seem earlier.

http://books.google.com/books?id=sol334hPuRoC&pg=PA125&dq=cotton+loading+songs&lr=&cd=25#v=onepage&q=cotton%20loading%20songs&f=

It does introduce a genre of songs we haven't really looked at but which are also "call/response" songs, namely religious songs. The author of this article says, "the songs the Negro seems to prefer while working are the religious ones."


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 11:58 AM

I'm familiar with the comment, but I believe that the idea that trained musicians were unfamiliar with modal scales in Sharp's day is nonsense. Maybe the commentator meant that many couldn't identify them by name if asked.

My understanding is that trained musicians knew exactly what "modal" meant and more or less what the scales sounded like from the study of music history, but thought they were "primitive" and thus largely unsuitable for "modern" music.

But the question is relatively moot. There are few modal shanties.


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 12:35 PM

Also, another word they could easily have used for hypothetically modal or bluesy melodies was "indescribable."


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: mikesamwild
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 03:08 PM

A lot of trad tunes that went into odd notes were often called 'Chinese' for similar reasons


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 03:39 PM

Gibb,
Re the Doerflinger reference, I think the use of the phrase 'old ditties' is descriptive enough. I think Doerflinger was clutching at straws. I don't think the East India Company would have been your average merchant vessel, more like RN, being described complete with fiddler. No mention of any sort of worksong!


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: shipcmo
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 04:33 PM

Gibb,
Think there is any connection between: here is another early reference, that can be dated as December 31,1838. Phillip Henry Gosse, in his LETTERS FROM ALABAMA (1859), also mentions the cotton-screwing shanty, "Fire the ringo" (page 305-306,at the very end of his book):
and: "Fire Maringo"?
Keep up the good work!
Cheers,
Geo


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: John Minear
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 04:36 PM

Here is an account from 1852 of a voyage from San Francisco to New York by way of Panama and Jamaica. While in Jamaica, the ship took on a load of coal in Kingston. There is a description of about 50 men and women carrying coal in tubs on their heads and marching back and forth to load the ship and singing "an old plantation song" the whole time. It is the last paragraph just above the heading "Again on the deep":

http://cdnc.ucr.edu/newsucr/cgi-bin/newsucr?a=d&cl=search&d=SDU18921020.2.28&srpos=11&e=-------en-logical-20--1-byDA---capstan+s


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: John Minear
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 05:50 PM

Here are a few references to rowing songs down in Brazil somewhat in the general time frame. I've not had a chance to follow up on any of them.

http://books.google.com/books?id=Om1tx6ZR0hYC&pg=PA49&dq=rowing+songs+1840s&cd=5#v=onepage&q=rowing%20songs%201840s&f=false


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 07:44 PM

To finish out what I have for the 1830s, there is the best known source of all, RH Dana's TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST.

Dana shipped as a common sailor in the brig PILGRIM, Aug 1834-Sept1836.

In the various editions of his text, 1840, he mentioned "sailor's songs."

There is a lengthy thread dedicated to Dana's songs HERE

Dana mentioned several songs by name, and also made reference to work-singing generally.

Here are passages.

First is to the elementary "sing-outs:

The wind was whistling through the rigging, loose ropes flying about; loud and, to me, unintelligible orders constantly given and rapidly executed, and the sailors "singing out" at the ropes in their hoarse and peculiar strains.

The following is frustrating because it does not clearly distinguish (for my taste, at least) the songs for capstan versus the ones for hoisting yards. The reference to "falls," one would assume, is to halyards and not just lighter lines that could be handled with "sing outs." This is important because, up to this point, there are actually few references to singing songs at halliards. Dana groups all the songs (without specifying use) under a certain form, a sort of call and response. This is vague because capstan chanties as we know them today do often have that quality, though they are then followed by a grand chorus (not mentioned by Dana). Because he does not mention it does not mean it was not there and, indeed, the "old ditties" from the THE QUID (thanks, Steve) and earlier are not what one would usually call a call and response type song (i.e. though they may have a soloist followed by chorus). Also, the short "sweating up" chants could also fall under Dana's description, and they are different from later halliard chanties. My opinion is that, given what else we know from the time period, the halliard songs he would have been describing were like "Cheerly Man". A single pull coincides with the chorus' "response," and the form of the "verses" does not have the sane verse form that most halliard chanties have. It sounds to me like Dana is still describing the old-style capstan songs and an old-ER kind of song for halliards, however, that is my interpretation only. Again, it is frustrating because, for example, he names a song with "heave" in the title, but he refers to pulling. Perhaps this is not just negligence; maybe the functions of the songs did not become so clearly demarcated yet. Here's the passage:

The sailor's songs for capstans and falls are of a peculiar kind, having a chorus at the end of each line. The burden is usually sung, by one alone, and, at the chorus, all hands join in,—and the louder the noise, the better. With us, the chorus seemed almost to raise the decks of the ship, and might be heard at a great distance, ashore. A song is as necessary to sailors as the drum and fife to a soldier. They can't pull in time, or pull with a will, without it. Many a time, when a thing goes heavy, with one fellow yo-ho-ing, a lively song, like "Heave, to the girls!" "Nancy oh!" "Jack Cross-tree," etc., has put life and strength into every arm. We often found a great difference in the effect of the different songs in driving in the hides. Two or three songs would be tried, one after the other; with no effect;—not an inch could be got upon the tackles—when a new song, struck up, seemed to hit the humor of the moment, and drove the tackles "two blocks" at once. "Heave round hearty!" "Captain gone ashore!" and the like, might do for common pulls, but in an emergency, when we wanted a heavy, "raise-the-dead" pull, which should start the beams of the ship, there was nothing like "Time for us to go!" "Round the corner," or "Hurrah! hurrah! my hearty bullies!"

Significantly, Dana talks about how important all this singing and chanting was by that time.

The next passage makes clear that they were using the spoke windlass (cf. the pump windlass that, a couple years later, came into use of Marryat's vessel). It doesn't sound like they were using songs, just shouts of encouragement there. If they had a windlass for the anchor. And with "Cheerly Men" being used to cat anchor, it confirms the sense of its form that we have today: a sort of jazzed up equivalent to what was basically "one, two, three, PULL!" (i.e. not the same as later halyard chanteys).

Where things are "done with a will," every one is like a cat aloft: sails are loosed in an instant; each one lays out his strength on his handspike, and the windlass goes briskly round with the loud cry of "Yo heave ho! Heave and pawl! Heave hearty ho!" But with us, at this time, it was all dragging work. No one went aloft beyond his ordinary gait, and the chain came slowly in over the windlass. The mate, between the knight-heads, exhausted all his official rhetoric, in calls of "Heave with a will!"—"Heave hearty, men!—heave hearty!"—"Heave and raise the dead!"—"Heave, and away!" etc., etc.; but it would not do. Nobody broke his back or his hand-spike by his efforts. And when the cat-tackle-fall was strung along, and all hands—cook, steward, and all—laid hold, to cat the anchor, instead of the lively song of "Cheerily, men!" in which all hands join in the chorus, we pulled a long, heavy, silent pull, and—as sailors say a song is as good as ten men—the anchor came to the cat-head pretty slowly. "Give us 'Cheerily!'" said the mate; but there was no "cheerily" for us, and we did without it. The captain walked the quarterdeck, and said not a word. He must have seen the change, but there was nothing which he could notice officially.

Work songs of Hawai'ians are there, too. It seems as though the singing of "Mahannah" was a novel scenario that juxtaposed two cultures' practices. In any case, the reference is to singing-out at the windlass, not to songs, per se.

At twelve o'clock the Ayacucho dropped her fore topsail, which was a signal for her sailing. She unmoored and warped down into the bight, from which she got under way. During this operation, her crew were a long time heaving at the windlass, and I listened for nearly an hour to the musical notes of a Sandwich Islander, called Mahannah, who "sang out" for them. Sailors, when heaving at a windlass, in order that they may heave together, always have one to sing out; which is done in a peculiar, high and long-drawn note, varying with the motion of the windlass. This requires a high voice, strong lungs, and much practice, to be done well. This fellow had a very peculiar, wild sort of note, breaking occasionally into a falsetto. The sailors thought it was too high, and not enough of the boatswain hoarseness about it; but to me it had a great charm. The harbor was perfectly still, and his voice rang among the hills, as though it could have been heard for miles.

In lieu of Dana's early characterization of singing as fairly ubiquitous, this next passage is puzzling. If, as we have seen, African-Americans just did not row without a song...and if he is claiming that "Americans" rarely did so...is it possible to infer that the hypothetical African-American influence on shipboard worksongs had not yet occurred? I think this passage is particularly significant.

The Italian ship had a crew of thirty men; nearly three times as many as the Alert, which was afterwards on the coast, and was of the same size; yet the Alert would get under weigh and come-to in half the time, and get two anchors, while they were all talking at once—jabbering like a parcel of "Yahoos," and running about decks to find their cat-block.

There was only one point in which they had the advantage over us, and that was in lightening their labors in the boats by their songs. The Americans are a time and money saving people, but have not yet, as a nation, learned that music may be "turned to account." We pulled the long distances to and from the shore, with our loaded boats, without a word spoken, and with discontented looks, while they not only lightened the labor of rowing, but actually made it pleasant and cheerful, by their music.


I think this final passage is significant for its *lack* of mention of any chanteying besides the old standard "Cheerly men". What's more, at the time, Dana is on a larger brig the CATALINA, which one would think "needed" shanties more -- that is, if they were available.

and, this morning, preparations were made for getting under weigh. We paid out on the chain by which we swung; hove in on the other; catted the anchor; and hove short on the first. This work was done in shorter time than was usual on board the brig; for though everything was more than twice as large and heavy, the cat-block being as much as a man could lift, and the chain as large as three of the Pilgrim's, yet there was a plenty of room to move about in, more discipline and system, more men, and more good will. Every one seemed ambitious to do his best: officers and men knew their duty, and all went well. As soon as she was hove short, the mate, on the forecastle, gave the order to loose the sails, and, in an instant, every one sprung into the rigging, up the shrouds, and out on the yards, scrambling by one another,—the first up the best fellow,—cast off the yard-arm gaskets and bunt gaskets, and one man remained on each yard, holding the bunt jigger with a turn round the tye, all ready to let go, while the rest laid down to man the sheets and halyards. The mate then hailed the yards—"All ready forward?"—"All ready the cross-jack yards?" etc., etc., and "Aye, aye, sir!" being returned from each, the word was given to let go; and in the twinkling of an eye, the ship, which had shown nothing but her bare yards, was covered with her loose canvas, from the royal-mast-heads to the decks. Every one then laid down, except one man in each top, to overhaul the rigging, and the topsails were hoisted and sheeted home; all three yards going to the mast-head at once, the larboard watch hoisting the fore, the starboard watch the main, and five light hands, (of whom I was one,) picked from the two watches, the mizen. The yards were then trimmed, the anchor weighed, the cat-block hooked on, the fall stretched out, manned by "all hands and the cook," and the anchor brought to the head with "cheerily men!" in full chorus.

I'm of the present opinion that the chanteying in Dana's experience was yet of the older sort. I think "Cheerly Man" belonged to that world, and was probably not cut from the cloth of African-American work-songs. With Marryat a few years later --and the pump windlass-- there is possibly a newer kind of chantey. On the other hand, the form of that particular version of a "Sally Brown" is not far from Cheerly Man.

Whereas my hypothesis is that a new paradigm for work-singing -- roughly corresponding to halyard songs, or "chanties," as they came to be known -- was borrowed from African-American practices, I don't feel confident, from these 1830s references, that that borrowing had yet occurred on a large scale. That is, the Afr-American forms existed (rowing, cotton stowing, and fireman's songs), but had yet to be widely incorporated on large sailing vessels.


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 07:58 PM

Geo-- YES!

I've been being a big bully, however, and trying to keep things confined to up-to-1830s until now.

But let the 1840s now fly!-- Fire away, my Ringo, Mr. Marengo, you dear old Mandingo of my Kingdom! It's cotton-screwing season!


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Charley Noble
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 10:13 PM

"Maringo!"

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: John Minear
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 07:07 AM

Here is one more little snippet from Dana, where he mentions "a set of new songs for the capstan and fall" from the crew of the "California".

"The next day, the California commenced unloading her cargo; and her boats' crews, in coming and going, sang their boat-songs, keeping time with their oars. This they did all day long for several days, until their hides were all discharged, when a gang of them were sent on board the Alert, to help us steeve our hides. This was a windfall for us, for they had a set of new songs for the capstan and fall, and ours had got nearly worn out by six weeks' constant use. I have no doubt that this timely reinforcement of songs hastened our work several days."

Here is the Google Books link:

http://books.google.com/books?id=dS6jsZLYWNAC&pg=PA336&dq=capstan+songs+1840s&lr=&cd=12#v=onepage&q=&f=false


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: John Minear
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 07:31 AM

Here is a reference to the singing of "Highland Laddie" at the capstan in an effort to move the grounded ship "Peacock" into deeper water on April 22nd, 1835, near the Gulf of Mazeira.

http://books.google.com/books?id=LW_XAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA396&dq=capstan+songs+1840s&lr=&cd=25#v=onepage&q=&f=false


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: John Minear
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 07:38 AM

And here is a reference to the adaptation of "the lively songs sung by seamen when heaving at the capstan" by Society Islanders on the island of Raiatea, which was visited by a whaling vessel on a voyage around the world from 1833 to 1836, recounted by Frederick Debell Bennett in his NARRATIVE OF A WHALING VOYAGE ROUND THE GLOBE, Vol. I (1840).

http://books.google.com/books?id=xo89AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA141&dq=capstan+songs+1840s&lr=&cd=38#v=onepage&q=&f=false


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 04:28 PM

. 'What's more, at the time, Dana is on a larger brig the CATALINA, which one would think "needed" shanties more -- that is, if they were available.,'

Gibb, I may be wrong here but I would have thought the reverse would apply. The larger the ship, the more hands, the less need for shanties. If I remember rightly in the heyday of shantying they came into their own on the clippers and packets notorious for being undermanned.

'yet there was a plenty of room to move about in, more discipline and system, more men, and more good will.'


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 05:08 PM

Gibb,
Have you looked through the old thread currently refreshed 'Origin of sea chanteys'
Look at Barry Finn's post of 25th may 01 at 04.05
particularly the Robert Hay references for the early 1800s. You may have this of course.


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: John Minear
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 09:06 AM

Here is a reference from 1838 to singing "that good old song 'O! storm along!" from NA MOTU: OR, REEF-ROVING IN THE SOUTH SEAS, by Edward T. Perkins, published in 1854.

http://books.google.com/books?id=1zxCAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA99&dq=Storm+along+Stormy&lr=&cd=46#v=onepage&q=Storm%20along%20Stormy&f=false


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: John Minear
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 10:28 AM

In the 1854 publication of CHRISTY AND WHITE'S ETHIOPIAN MELODIES, in the section entitled WHITES NEW ILLUSTRATED ETHIOPIAN SONG BOOK, there is a version of "Storm along Stormy", as sung by "J. Smith, of White's Serenaders, at the Melodeon." (p. 71) Here is the link:

http://books.google.com/books?id=W2ZCAAAAYAAJ&pg=RA3-PA71&dq=%22Storm+along+Stormy%22&cd=1#v=onepage&q=%22Storm%20along%20Stormy

According to Google Book Search, Charles White's NEW ETHIOPIAN SONG BOOK was published in 1848.

http://books.google.com/books?id=n6xRQAAACAAJ&dq=White's+New+Illustrated+Ethiopian+Song+Book&source=gbs_book_other_versions

These little booklets went through many publications and re-publications and combinations at that time. I think there is a good chance that this version of "Storm along Stormy" was around in this blackface minstrel version in the late 1840s.

In his original posting of this song to the "From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?" thread, Gibb said, "I am surprised to find this amongst minstrel songs. It would appear that it was taken from the work song repertoire into popular song; usually (I'd guess) it is the other way around."

thread.cfm?threadid=126347&messages=483#2864123


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: John Minear
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 01:03 PM

In THE PRIVATE JOURNAL OF WILLIAM REYNOLDS: UNITED STATES EXPLORING EXPEDITION, 1838-1842, by William Reynolds, Nathaniel Philbrick, and Thomas Philbrick, there is mentioned, on page 97 (Penguin Edition), that

        "Many of the girls at Point Venus [Tahiti] have learned the chorus songs common with sailors in heaving up the Anchor & other work...Their voices were good, and the ditties of "So early in the morning the Sailor loves his bottle oh," "Round the corner, Sally," "Tally Ho, you know" & a dozen others were often heard along the beach for half the night." (sometime between September 18th & 24th, 1839)

Here is the link:

http://books.google.com/books?id=4fUTBBP6xRwC&pg=PA97&dq=%22Round+the+corner,+Sally%22&lr=&cd=18#v=onepage&q=%22Round%20the%20co

Two of these songs are also mentioned by Dana: "Round the corner, Sally," and "Tally Ho, you know".


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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: John Minear
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 01:25 PM

Here is a somewhat similar account from 1844, from Edward Lucett's book ROVINGS IN THE PACIFIC, FROM 1837 TO 1849. The event is recorded for August 19, 1844 at Huaheine, in the South Pacific. Lucett says,

        "I was desirous of procuring the original [words], and took a person well skilled in the language to write them down for me; when, to my great surprise, I discovered that both the words and the air were a beautiful modulation of our sailors' song of "Round the corner, Sally!" (p. 82)

Here is the link:

http://books.google.com/books?id=XyQ9oaSfaMwC&pg=PA82&dq=%22Round+the+corner,+Sally%22&lr=&cd=20#v=onepage&q=%22Round%20the%20co


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