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A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties

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THE SEAMEN'S HYMN


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Steve Gardham 08 Jul 12 - 09:18 AM
GUEST,Lighter 08 Jul 12 - 10:08 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Jul 12 - 10:38 AM
GUEST,Lighter 08 Jul 12 - 11:58 AM
GUEST,Lighter 08 Jul 12 - 12:17 PM
Gibb Sahib 08 Jul 12 - 02:03 PM
Gibb Sahib 08 Jul 12 - 02:05 PM
Steve Gardham 08 Jul 12 - 03:03 PM
GUEST,Lighter 08 Jul 12 - 04:58 PM
Jim Carroll 09 Jul 12 - 03:50 AM
GUEST,Lighter 09 Jul 12 - 10:48 AM
Gibb Sahib 09 Jul 12 - 12:57 PM
Steve Gardham 09 Jul 12 - 05:04 PM
GUEST,Lighter 09 Jul 12 - 05:52 PM
GUEST,Lighter 09 Jul 12 - 06:54 PM
Steve Gardham 10 Jul 12 - 12:24 PM
Steve Gardham 10 Jul 12 - 12:54 PM
Snuffy 10 Jul 12 - 01:31 PM
Jim Carroll 10 Jul 12 - 03:18 PM
Steve Gardham 10 Jul 12 - 06:15 PM
GUEST,Lighter 10 Jul 12 - 07:56 PM
Jim Carroll 11 Jul 12 - 03:16 AM
Lighter 29 Jul 18 - 11:32 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 29 Jul 18 - 06:12 PM
Gibb Sahib 01 Feb 23 - 01:43 AM
GUEST,Nick Dow 01 Feb 23 - 08:33 AM
Lighter 01 Feb 23 - 10:23 AM
GUEST,Nick Dow 01 Feb 23 - 01:51 PM
Steve Gardham 01 Feb 23 - 04:35 PM
GUEST,Lighter 01 Feb 23 - 04:48 PM
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Steve Gardham 02 Feb 23 - 11:04 AM
meself 02 Feb 23 - 11:28 AM
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Lighter 04 Mar 23 - 02:32 PM
GUEST,R J M 04 Mar 23 - 04:38 PM
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GUEST,R J M 06 Mar 23 - 06:07 AM
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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Jul 12 - 09:18 AM

Gibb,
'it didn't matter much. (did it?)
In accordance with my last post, it surely doesn't matter at all. In all of L&M's RECORDING output they were ENTERTAINERS. They were not pretending to be seamen. I doubt if MacColl had ever been aboard and Lloyd only went for a sample run on a modern whaler with NO SAILS.

FWIW I posted this a few years ago. Bert claimed to have collected a version of 'Heave away me Johnny' from a Hull seaman when he sailed out of Hull. The words of this pertaining to Hull are not what any person from Hull would ever have sung. I can go into detail if you like. The song IMHO was written by Bert.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 08 Jul 12 - 10:08 AM

"South Australia" may have been written by Lloyd as well.

I wouldn't be as charitable as Steve. L & M presentedthemselevs as much more than simple entertainers: their extensive sleeve notes, their learned references to scholarly sources, their (deserved) air of unusual knowledgability advertises them as being dedicated to documentary authenticity, particularly in the '50s, when nobody but a relatibe handful of academics and aficionados had the slightest idea of what English folksong, including shanties, was all about.

They were great singers. They hooked me on the subject. They could also be good scholars when they wanted to be.

Unfortunately that was not all the time, and they sometimes got very sloppy if not downright misleading - though by non-academic standards their transgressions were harmless, if occasionally tawdry (I'm thinking especially of Lloyd's blithe anglifying of American whaling songs he got from Colcord, though that was early in his career).

I doubt that Hugill was guilty of either "hypocrisy" or "bullshit." He was not a trained scholar, and like most people he often spoke off the cuff, basing his remarks on impressions and recollections that he may not have scrutinized. As he says frankly in the intro to SSS, he never wrote down the songs he learned at sea until he started writing his book in the 1950s. After thirty years of being away from sail, and without graduate training in textual criticism, it's no surprise that his texts are sometimes a hodgepodge of what he genuinely learned, what he made up at sea or in a German POW camp, and what he picked up as presumably genuine from shanty books. It would be easy to confuse these things, just as it would be easy for a busy amateur to edit some songs more rigorously than others. He may even have relied heavily on memory when writing down verses he got from print. Why not? Think of the time saved. And of course shantymen varied even established words somewhat when singing.

Hugill is outspokenly skeptical of many of Davis & Tozer's texts for being too drippily sentimental. Yet I believe he also mentions somewhere that his father owned a copy and thought it was a fine collection. (And we know that Stanley Slade, of the generation preceding Hugill's, recorded some of D&T's versions. His own preference? The BBC's requirement? It would be good to know.)


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Jul 12 - 10:38 AM

""South Australia" may have been written by Lloyd as well."
Doubt it - though he may have been an infant prodigy - it was collected in the 1920s
As has been pointed out, as far as 'sloppy scholarship' and misinformation is concerned, these people were performers; it was only when they made unsubstantiated and inaccurate scholastic claims of the songs they introduced "this is typical of the 18th English repertoire" was one of Bert's favourite types of statement, when we now know he got many of his songs from Canadian or Irish collections, for instance.
MacColl's introductions tended to be leads in to the appreciation of the songs as performed pieces rather than the passing on of scholarly information - we have enough recorded live performances of his to know this to be a fact (not to say he couldn't bullshit with the best of them).
"I doubt that Hugill was guilty of either "hypocrisy" or "bullshit."
The half dozen times I saw Hugill perform I came away with the impression of somebody desperate to show he knew more than anybody else on the planet about sea songs - he straddled the revival and the tradition like the feller who used to stand outside Rhodes Harbour - a performer to a T.
Jim Carroll.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 08 Jul 12 - 11:58 AM

I meant the "Nancy Blair" words he sang and the especially lively tune he used.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 08 Jul 12 - 12:17 PM

> came away with the impression of somebody desperate to show he knew more than anybody else on the planet about sea songs

I wouldn't put it quite that way. Especially since he may *well* have known more than anybody else, at least about English-language shanties. That's not to say he was infallible, or that he thought he was. He certainly doesn't lay down inviolable rules in his books, nor did he in person.

Hugill was, after all, one of the very last active shantymen in the English-speaking world, and no matter how his style and repertoire may have been modified over the decades, I believe he did his best to give an accurate picture of shantying. Because he'd learned shantying as a teenager, I think it unlikely that his basic style or repertoire changed significantly.

Though I met him only twice, my impression of Hugill was of a natural but serious-minded extravert who was determined equally to put on a good show and to inform an interested audience as accurately as he could about genuine shanty singing.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 08 Jul 12 - 02:03 PM

I feel like you guys are drifting a bit towards overall or general assessments of Hugill and Lloyd. Both have positives and negatives -- and good reasons for any shortcomings. It gets muddled, in my opinion, when we judge them by different standards in order to give more or less emphasis to positives or negatives.

I am trying to stick to the specifics (though not always succeeding). My allegation of bullshit and hypocrisy doesn't apply to Hugill overall. It's just directed at his specific words in the 'Bert' biography.

I think these words need critique because they can easily be taken for granted. Hugill enjoyed the position of being able to cast doubt on the authenticity or quality of any Revival singer's performance. I think most people would read this passage at face value, as something that confirmed their understanding that Stan was The Man and that Lloyd, naturally, could not measure up fully. While we can't "blame" any one for speaking off the cuff, in this case Hugill's off the cuff statement (if that's what it was) creates a picture of Lloyd and MacColl that I think is unjustified and yet will be believed by most readers.

While Hugill and Lloyd were very different in important ways, in this case, Lloyd either didn't do some of what Hugill exaggeratingly claims or else what he did was no different than what Hugill himself had done. I object to the way that what amounts to a statement of Hugill's personal preferences or tastes as a performer seem to be made superior under the guise of authenticity. If there were circumstantial reasons for Hugill's shortcomings, then there were circumstantial shortcomings for Lloyd's, too. In all, I wish both these fellows had just said "I don't know", "I'm not sure", and "My opinion is" more often!


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 08 Jul 12 - 02:05 PM

Dare I also say that I think Hugill adopted some of Lloyd's refashioned "South Australia"?


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Jul 12 - 03:03 PM

As a researcher, once reasonable doubt has been cast on a collector/authority I tend to avoid their works for serious research, with perhaps the exception of 'Traveller Songs from England and Scotland' which I have been unable to find fault with.

However, as a singer I do sing MacColl's songs, and Lloyd's reworked songs, because I like what they did with them. They were very talented people. I'm pretty certain also that some of the many chanties I sing, Hugill had a hand in. As I am a revival singer, none of this bothers me in the slightest.

From postings on the Ballad List, which Jonathan is a member of, I must admit to occasionally being amused when members take L&M's Child Ballads as serious versions.

If I wanted to know something really learned about chanties I'd come here first before going to Hugill.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 08 Jul 12 - 04:58 PM

> I wish both these fellows had just said "I don't know", "I'm not sure", and "My opinion is" more often!

Yeah, but how many do you know who actually say that?


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 03:50 AM

"amused when members take L&M's Child Ballads as serious versions."
As far as I understand it, both of them never hid the fact that they re-worked and collated ballad texts, as have most revival singers I have met (that's what they both were).
The problem with Bert is that he was regarded as a serious folk song scholar, (even though he was sometimes 'economical with the truth' regarding his scholarship), I was never aware that MacColl was regarded in the same way.
MacColl's major contribution was in evolving a system of voice production and applied it to the singing of folk songs, which, alas, has never been examined outside of the confines of the Critics Group.
As far as sea songs are concerned, did either of them make misleading pronouncements on the shanties they sang or did they do what all of the revivalists do way back then, and just sing them, wherever they got them and whatever they did to them?
I seem to remember (could check if I need to) that all the sea albums they did came with extremely sparse notes.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 10:48 AM

> all the sea albums they did came with extremely sparse notes.

It depends what you mean by "sparse." Typically most of the back of the sleeve was covered in small print, with a general introduction and each song commented upon, generally by Lloyd.

They were "sparse" in terms of academic information, but appeared to the uninstructed (like me) to be the last word in scholarship.

Example, from "Off to Sea Once More" (1956):

"STORMALONG Romantic writers imagine the hero of this shanty as a legendary giant, a seafaring Paul Bunyan. He has become as much a figure of marine folklore as Davy Jones or Mother Carey. However, some old Cape Horners declare that Stormalong was a real man named John Willis, of Eyemouth, Berwickshire, who was one of the greatest of early nineteenth century West Indiaman skippers. There are two quite distinct versions of this shanty, one for halyards, the other, as here, for manning the capstan or the pumps."

Just the fact of the notes, and their detail, proclaims that this is the real thing, with factual commentary by genuine experts. Rarely did either MacColl or Lloyd say frankly that they'd changed anything. (An important exception are the collations in Riverside's multi-disk "The English and Scottish Popular Ballads," all of which are evidently acknowledged, possibly under the influence of PhD editor Ken Goldstein.)

Of course, maybe I was an exceptionally naive youth to trust anybody in show biz, regardless of how much history and folklore they could cite. However, neither the Clancy Bros., nor the Dubliners, enormously popular "folk" acts of the era, supplied comparable notes. And L & M's signature, unaccompanied singing, or singing with "folky" instruments like the concertina, appeared to be yet another stamp of authenticity.

I don't want to make too much of this, but many future scholars listened to L & M's albums with complete confidence that they were as close to 19th C. folk singing as a 20th C. human could get.

BTW, just how "prominent" *were* Stormy, Davy Jones, and Mother Carey in marine folklore? My impression is that they were, essentially, names or phrases only. (Though "Davy Jones" is said specifically to have been a name for the devil.)


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 12:57 PM

Lighter--

Can you please confirm that _Off to Sea Once More_ was 1956? I ask just for my own info. Someday I'd like to arrange the recorded chanties on a timeline. I'm particularly interested in the issue of interaction between Hugill and Lloyd/MacColl/others.


"Stormalong" seems intriguing in this regard. It is quite a distinct version of the song that MacColl is singing -- one which I don't recall seeing anywhere before Hugill. Some of the historical references to "Stormalong" by title alone might be referring to this version. And some of the song texts without tune could be, though I cannot really get them to scan. Hugill published it in 1961, saying he'd got it from Harding the Barbadian.

The question then would be, where did MacColl get it? His matches Hugill's quite well. The most likely answer is that MacColl learned it personally from Hugill by 1956. One supposes Hugill sang it for him, perhaps emphasizing the vocal "breaks" that characterize MacColl performance and which Hugill notes in SfSS directly before the song. This would be interesting though because I'm not sure Hugill was ever known to perform this song later on; indeed, he seemed to avoid chanties that required a "bluesy" expression.

The other possibility, that Hugill learned it from MacColl, seems too bizarre to consider. What isn't so far fetched though is if Hugill taught it to MacColl, MacColl put his own spin on it, and then that interpretation had some influence on Hugill's published version.

In any case, this seems to be evidence that Hugill and MacColl (and maybe Lloyd) had interacted in the '50s. Unless I am missing something.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 05:04 PM

I've always assumed the British revival started in the 60s which is when most of us got involved. I knew that L&M and a few others were involved in folk by then but I assumed more in isolation. Is there an authoritative book on the British folk scene in the 50s? I have Journeyman and the Joan Littlewood biography.

I too would be interested to know if Hugill interacted with the folk scene at an early stage in the 50s or even earlier. We used to have Stan and Bob Roberts doing workshops together at our Hull whaling festivals in the late 60s early 70s.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 05:52 PM

From the "Rare Caribbean shanties" thread, 2009:

Re Lloyd and Hugill before 1961:

Hugill writes that in the mid '50s he "contacted the Folk Song Department of the B.B.C." and "recorded several of the rarer shanties for their Permanent Records Library." He "also became known at Cecil Sharp House, the headquarters of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, where I was asked to give talks on the subject of shantying and shanties and where I met many well-known collectors ofsea-songs and shanties, with whom I exchanged notes on the subject."

Hugill even refers to "an excellent recording of sixteen sea-songs (forebitters) and shanties sung in fine imitation of the true style, and in particular the Liverpool seaman's style." This must be the Topic LP "The Singing Sailor," issued 1956/57, featuring Lloyd, MacColl, and the actor Harry Corbett

http://www.informatik.uni-hamburg.de/~zierke/lloyd/records/thesingingsailor.html

"Stormalong John" appeared on the 1957 Topic sequel, "The Black Ball Line," with MacColl as shantyman.   

It thus seems probable after all that Lloyd and MacColl got "Stormalong John" directly from Hugill rather than the other way around.

MacColl's "hitches" in the shanty (probably never heard before on a commercial shanty recording) are more likely to be from Hugill's influence than to be a component of an elaborate counterfeit.

The simplest explanation seems to be that "Stormalong John" came to MacColl from Harding via Hugill.

I don't believe Hugill would ever have claimed he'd learned "Stormalong John" from Harding if in fact he'd only heard it on a "revival" record (or even on a B.B.C. recording) just a few years earlier.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 06:54 PM

> I met many well-known collectors of sea-songs and shanties, with whom I exchanged notes on the subject.

Among these, presumably, were Lloyd & MacColl. How many other shanty "collectors" were there in the mid '50s? How many of them were "well-known" in the '60s?


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Jul 12 - 12:24 PM

Who else was still collecting in Britain in the 50s, Lomax? Ennis? Kennedy? When I get time I'll have a look through the Journals for that period.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Jul 12 - 12:54 PM

It makes me wonder who would be the market/audience for such productions in Britain c1956/7 as I always thought the revival in Britain didn't take off until the early 60s. There were no folk clubs, or festivals of the sort we know today. There were EFDSS festivals but these were mainly dance and very much a middle class affair.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Snuffy
Date: 10 Jul 12 - 01:31 PM

Steve,

Hugill's "many well-known collectors of sea-songs and shanties, with whom I exchanged notes on the subject" were not necessarily still collecting in the 50s and 60s.

He could well have met people like Percy Grainger at CSH in that period: although his shanty collecting was now many years in the past, Grainger certainly qualifies as "well-known"

What happened to Hugill's notes and correspondence?


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Jul 12 - 03:18 PM

"It makes me wonder who would be the market/audience for such productions in Britain c1956/7 "
There seems to have been an on-going interest in shanties throughout the first half of the 20th century.
Remembering Hugill's pointing out the international nature of shanties, the Library of Congress was recording sea songs and shanties from New York, Wisconsin, Virginia and California as early as 1939.
Whall published in 1910 and again in 1920, Colcord in 1925 and Doerflinger in 1951.
Stanley Slade was first recorded in 1943 and it was thought there to be enough of an audience for HMV to issue his singing commercially.
Incidentally, the late Tom Munnelly wrote a fascinating long article on Irish sea songs which contains a very evocative description of on of the great blind storytellers, Henry Blake, hearing the crew of a sailing ship sailing out of the Shannon estuary singing shanties - I'm pretty sure Tom said that none were collected in Ireland.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Jul 12 - 06:15 PM

JIm
Yes and I suppose Sharp's/Terry's chanteys, or at least some of them, were constantly available through the community song books like The Daily Express one.

Is there a date on the Blake reminiscence? Of course the seamen could have been from anywhere. There are plenty of sea songs in the Healy books but I don't recall any chanteys.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 10 Jul 12 - 07:56 PM

> I'm pretty sure Tom said that none were collected in Ireland.

Certainly my impression. The current "revival" assumption, however, seems to be that most shanties are somehow Irish.

Maybe the Clancys contributed inadvertently to this idea.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Jul 12 - 03:16 AM

"Is there a date on the Blake reminiscence?"
Not as far as I know - this is the extract.
Jim Carroll

"How relevant, then, is the shanty to the Irish tradition? One can only speculate at this stage, but shanties were certainly not unknown to the Irish. The late Henry Blake of Kilbaha, in Loop Head, County Clare, had this to say:

Henry Blake: Sea shanties ?

Tom Munnelly: Aye. Now where did you hear them?

HB: Oh I heard them singin' them alright, you know. Santiago an'... It is with sailors I heard that; Santiana . . . Sally Brown, Homeward Bound, Goodbye Fare Thee Well. I remember them alright... Of course we were young and [didn't] take much
notice. But I have a memory of them. I heard the sailors on board the ship. ... So young Brennan [a pilot] and I took the captain off the Shannon, and Michael Brennan put him on board the ship. And they started to weigh anchor. And when they started to weigh anchor they started to sing the shanty Homeward Bound for Limerick Town.

TM: That was the same one as Goodbye Fare Thee Well was it?

HB: Yes, yes . . . It was lovely to listen to them. Of course they'd all [be] lovely singers, and ten, fifteen or twenty of them together singin', you see, 'twas lovely to hear them. I. . . very often heard them on the Island [i.e. laying off Scattery Island] when the ship'd be weighin' anchor on Scattery Roads. I wasn't out at all on the ship, but you could hear them on the island. You'd love to listen to them.

This recalls O'Curry's account of listening to Anthony O'Brien who shared a boat with his father on the same stretch of the Shannon estuary. The young O'Curry would stand on the shore to hear O'Brien singing Fenian lays:

So powerful was the singer's voice that it often reached the shores at either side of the boat in Clare and Kerry and often called the labouring men from the neighbouring fields at both sides down to the water's edge to enjoy the strains of such music".


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 29 Jul 18 - 11:32 AM

Refresh.

Pretty interesting.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 29 Jul 18 - 06:12 PM

Agreed, Lighter - I missed it, first time round.

Regards


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 01 Feb 23 - 01:43 AM

An example of Lloyd's process -- and an error in that process -- that some might find interesting. A few folks were chatting about this in a non-Mudcat space last year (RTim and the missus helped!).

So here's the example. I ran across a recorded performance led by Martyn Wyndham-Read of "Hoorah for the Black Ball Line."
https://youtu.be/T9Z6G8vt_WU
I think, Hmm--what is this melody? Not only is it different from any of the "Black Ball Line" melodies I have heard/sung/seen, but also it sounds just plain weird for any chanty to have a melody like this. What's up with the tonality?

To make the pitches sound starker, I played it on a keyboard, here:
https://youtu.be/sJeOolaUAME

The question was, where did Wyndham-Read get this odd melody from?

Here's my theory. But first, some context.

I've observed on other occasions what looks to be evidence that Bert Lloyd had trouble with reading music notation. This is a moot issue for most chanty singers, who learn songs aurally—directly from other singers' live performances or recordings. But it's relevant to Lloyd because he was at the early stage of chanty revival singing and he was taking songs that were then unknown or very little-known and trying to present them, as it were, for the first (revival) time.

Despite some Lloyd aficionados citing Lloyd's experience on some kind of latter-day whaling vessel, there isn't much evidence that he learned many chanties from a "purely" oral tradition connected with pre-revival working sailors.

So, Lloyd turned, not unlike many folk revivalists, to published chanty collections. It seems clear that for Lloyd's 1950s recordings he made good use of Colcord's and Doerflinger's volumes. By the time of this Wyndham-Read recording in which Lloyd was involved, 1974, he had made use of Hugill (1961), too.

On to the example at hand.

Lloyd, clearly, to my mind, used Hugill's book as the source for "Black Ball Line." One can see the lyrical correspondences in Hugill's text, images #2 and #3 here:
https://imgur.com/a/DfhuCSq

Now here's where it gets funny and interesting. The melody sung by Wyndham-Read, arranged by Lloyd, follows the exact *contour* of Hugill's notated melody. That is, if you write Wyndham-Read's sung melody on a music staff and you compare it to Hugill's, all the little black dots fall in the same lines and spaces.
So, again, why does it sound different from Hugill's melody, which I am singing from the book notation here?:
https://youtu.be/C2OuVe4sPm8

The answer is that Lloyd must have read the musical score without correctly interpreting the accidentals (sharps) in the key signature. Here's Hugill's melody, again, written out by me. I've marked above all of the notes where Lloyd incorrectly followed the key signature and lowered a pitch by a half-step. (See image #1)
https://imgur.com/a/DfhuCSq

All that remains is to transpose this melody up to the key a half-step higher to Wyndham-Read's singing pitch.

All this means that Lloyd not only invented his own stuff -- which might be considered in the spirit of folk musicking -- but also simply mediated material incorrectly. The product is not the result of a "folk process" of being part of a musical community then unconsciously (or consciously) effecting small changes to material through taste or imperfect memory. It's breaking from the folk process, using media, and making a mistake. What irks me about this is not that Lloyd would use a media source nor that he made a mistake but that Lloyd did not hear this was so wrong, so uncharacteristic of the genre.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 01 Feb 23 - 08:33 AM

Very well argued. I think Lloyd probably altered the modality of the tune for whatever reason. He did not have any difficulty sight reading, or he would not have been able to produce such varied musical comparisons as we see in 'Folk Song in England'. I have had to readjust my views of Lloyd over the years and have come to the conclusion that he believed that the end justifies the means.
Nothing has surpassed his rolling prose and stylish narrative for me, which can be seen repeatedly in my publications. However, this is not about me, and I feel we must pose the question that Roy Palmer voiced at the A.L.lloyd memorial conference; "Would you rather have that (song) or not?."


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Feb 23 - 10:23 AM

Thanks for reviving this thread, Gibb. I'd forgotten all about it.

You've jogged my memory of hearing Wyndham-Reade's rendition as a callow youth fifty years ago. I'd heard most of the Lloyd-MacColl chanteys by then, including MacColl's more traditional "Black Ball Line."

I thought W-R's sounded so weird, so authentic, so English! Englishness didn't matter, but authenticity, especially authentic weirdness, did.

I think this is one reason that L & M preferred modal tunes. Like the chanties themselves, they were markedly unlike the music the average anglophone audience was used to. That suggested (erroneously) that they were (or ought to be) the oldest, most valuable, most authentic artifacts from the vague, romanticized era many of us naively associated with traditional music.

That emphasis on modality, concertinas, hearty double entendre, narrative songs, "exoticness," and a taken-for-granted anti-elite bias, etc., are values in the revival performances of Lloyd and a few others that appealed to me and, I suspect, a great many others. It was so appealing and unusual it had to be authentic! History coming alive, which was one point of the revival.

And it was all backed by those sometimes equivocating, always authoritative-sounding liner notes!

Not a chantey, but has anyone mentioned that Lloyd, with a little inspiration from broadsides of the 1840's and a trad tune, was the effective creator of "The Trim-Rigg'd Doxy"?

In response to Roy Palmer's and Nick's question, "would I rather have Lloyd's creation or not?" I'd rather have "Doxy" than otherwise, though possibly not by much.

But enough drift. The chantey texts (mayb not the tunes) are a rather different case, once we remember just how extensively (even wildly) improvisational the texts could be when used for labor. See the Ranzo thread, for example.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 01 Feb 23 - 01:51 PM

With reference to 'Doxies' could I refer you to my article in Living Tradition entitled 'Doxies buy-a-brooms and the Rigs of London Town.
If you can't find it P.M. Dave the Gnome and he will give you my Email so I will send it to you.
Getting back to Lloyd's rewrites, he has been censured for his Australian collection and his industrial songs. I am not the least surprised that he altered Chanties. I think you have put it rather well Lighter, and the false glow of an imagined historical past is very seductive. Certainly a fantasy, but then again so are the songs themselves. Maybe they leave you a little more able to wrestle your way through the reality of the day even if they were rewritten by a seven-dials pot poet or Mr Lloyd.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Feb 23 - 04:35 PM

I may be wrong but I don't think there is anyone left who has any interest in the history and authenticity of the songs who takes anything Bert wrote with anything but a pinch of salt (apologies). So, the question is, do we need to keep bringing up the many examples of his creativity (I have plenty of my own)? In all of my research and writings I don't think I have even once had to quote anything Bert wrote. Why would I need to? Nick, please tell me if I'm wrong.

'Would you rather have that song or not?'

Like most of you I am a writer/researcher, but also a performer, and my own answer to that one is a resounding YES. I have sung many of his songs and loved those others have sung, and what is more I love them just as much now I know he made most of them up, as I did when I first heard them. Thanks, Bert!


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 01 Feb 23 - 04:48 PM

Thanks, Nick. The magazine looked so interesting that I've ordered the entire issue. I do look forward to reading your article.

As for "fantasies," that probably covers 99% of all lyrics, regardless of genre.

Anyone singing a trad song (or a reasonable facsimile) learned from print or a recording (which means just about everyone here, myself included) is at bottom playing a role: that of a genuine trad singer with some kind of social or cultural connection to the essence of song.

Honi soit, etc.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 01 Feb 23 - 07:55 PM

I keep discovering more and more Bert concoctions, and I'm still in a state of 'Well I never!'
In respect of Bert's written work, I am such a lover of his turn of phrase and style, and his vast vocabulary that it has been a lifelong influence on my writing as Steve knows well. A good dose of Bert's style IMHO would do some less inventive writers a great deal of good and would help to get the point across. I do think Bert had more than a layman's grasp of musical theory and described this in a refreshingly readable style. Bronson however demands so much prior understanding from the reader, that Google needs to be permanently activated. The other endearing quality Bert had was his ability to hear and decipher tune families and origins. The best example was the Dives and Lazarus 'Brigg Fair' connection and the most amusing was Harry Cox's Foggy Dew, which is the B part to 'Ye Banks and Braes of Bonny Doon'. This sent me on a journey which I may never finish as Steve knows again. However, with that in mind, I will echo Steve by saying once again 'Thank you Bert!'


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Feb 23 - 11:04 AM

I'd like to qualify what I said about bringing up his creativity. Whilst none of us nowadays treat Bert's material as direct from oral tradition, posting individual examples as Gibb and Brian often do is still very interesting and welcome.

On a slightly different tack those producing tradsong anthologies on a regular basis like Nick and myself often collate several versions for performers. The big difference between us and Bert is we always go to great lengths to flag up where separate parts have come from in the tradition, and we keep any further interference to an absolute minimum, i.e., occasionally altering nonsense to make sense, or perhaps restoring an obvious rhyme.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: meself
Date: 02 Feb 23 - 11:28 AM

"Anyone singing a trad song (or a reasonable facsimile) learned from print or a recording (which means just about everyone here, myself included) is at bottom playing a role: that of a genuine trad singer with some kind of social or cultural connection to the essence of song."

That may well be true of many, but of "anyone"? I am sure there are many singers of the occasional trad song who have absolutely no concept of a 'genuine trad singer'.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 02 Feb 23 - 12:02 PM

Agreed. I needed someone to explain the importance. In my case, it was McColl and Bert Lloyd. The former through the 'Song Carriers' and the latter face to face.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 04 Mar 23 - 02:32 PM

Got the article and read it, Nick.

Great work!

Our discussion of Lloyd and MacColl's practice has two major aspects: aesthetic and historical.

As first-class performers, their aesthetics, within the trad-revival boundaries were impeccable. One way or another they came up with superior combinations of texts and tunes. Some of the liberties they took were, from a scholarly perspective, were inexcusable, but it's easy to believe that no trad singer of the 19th century, exposed to any of L & M's "trad" repertoire, would find the texts and tunes any stranger or phony-sounding than those they (the instrumental arrangements and, especially, MacColl's quirks of delivery would be a different story.) But the songs themselves, as performed, seem (to me) to be squarely within the blurry confines of "tradition." Renardine's shiny teeth might have elicited comment, but they would have led only an academic like Child down a lycanthropy rabbit-hole. (And he'd have enjoyed it too!)

Which is brings me to the historical aspect. As amateur song historians and culture commentators, they often gave the impression of more extensive knowledge of a song's origin or relationships or distribution than they had. Lloyd, I believe, did this especially. He often seems to have thought he did know, or could intuit, more than the available facts. Especially annoying to a pedant like myself were L & M's questionable attributions and sometimes intentionally fuzzy, if evocative, liner notes. (And the extensive, often knowledgeable, notes distinguished them further from other performers.) Their worst offense may have been passing off significant rewrites, adaptations, and the rare counterfeit or imitation as the real McCoy. "Wings of a Goney," "Talcahuana Girls," and "The Recruited Collier" are salient examples.)

Of course, Bishop Percy and scores of others have done the same, and their reputations have suffered. The harm here is is no more (or less) than the unacknowledged tinkering with the past and giving the impression that trad lyrics were generally of a much higher quality - by literary standards - than they usually were.

Few people are bothered by this. But for some of us who've looked behind the curtain, it's hard not to feel intentionally and unnecessarily misled.

But nobody's perfect.

As performers, though, I've never tired of listening to them.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,R J M
Date: 04 Mar 23 - 04:38 PM

A.L.Lloyd will be remembered long after Mudcat


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Mar 23 - 04:30 PM

Unlikely, R.J.M., seeing as they're both all over the interweb! Not a competition anyway.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,R J M
Date: 05 Mar 23 - 05:59 PM

Competition?


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 05 Mar 23 - 08:07 PM

Yes, a competition. They are not in one. Nor should they be.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Mar 23 - 11:15 PM

You're right, Nick. Mudcat is in the business of promoting the memory of songs, and the memory of people like Bert Lloyd. I hope we do him justice.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,R J M
Date: 06 Mar 23 - 04:04 AM

I did not say it was a competition.
Source.. Folk song a week
Lloyd printed the song in his 1952 collection Come All Ye Bold Miners. About which Roy Palmer wrote this:

    It is clear that Lloyd’s editorial approach was not merely to reproduce the material sent to him. Sometimes the changes made were small… but others were far-reaching. On ‘Jimmy’s Enlisted (or the Recruited Collier)’ Lloyd laconically notes: ‘Text from J.H. Huxtable, of Workington. A version of this ballad appears in R. Anderson’s Ballads in the Cumberland Dialect (1808).’ In fact, the original is entitled simply ‘Jenny’s Complaint’, and features not a miner who enlists but a ploughman.

Roy Palmer, A. L. Lloyd and Industrial Song, in Ian Russell, ed., Singer, Song and Scholar, Sheffield Academic Press, 1986, pp.135-7 (quoted by Malcolm Douglas on this Mudcat thread).


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 06 Mar 23 - 04:17 AM

I recently jokingly described one of Lloyd's recordings as sounding like Druids singing at Stonehenge.

Now, my own performances might sound like constipated dogs howling in the night. Lloyd sounds more beautiful. But that doesn't mean it *doesn't* sound like Druids at Stonehenge! It could sound beautiful without sounding like an ancient pagan rite of the British Isles. The point isn't "Ugh, Lloyd sounds bad!" It's: "Hmm, wow, OK, Lloyd sounds this way and there is something to note about it."

The context was "Sailboat Malarkey," sung by Lloyd and crew on the 1974 Sea Shanties album.

Unless someone knows differently, I presume this was based on Bahamian singer Frederick McQueen singing in 1965, released on the album The Real Bahamas (1966).
https://youtu.be/PObmXcB_Fr4

Lloyd's group sings this:
https://youtu.be/_a5Si_xFvEU

Is it not fair to say "Hmm" and ask what were they thinking? Like, what imagery was running through their heads to convert a blues from a sunny island into walking through catacombs?

Musical style communicates a lot of information. I don't think Lloyd's rendition communicates any indication of the culture of the "original." It has been re-cast as something else. In the context of that _Sea Shanties_ album, and the wider context in which that album resonates with a particular vision of "sea shanties", this re-casting really does something to the song, I think. We go down the road from Lloyd's decision and arrive at things like this:
https://youtu.be/6d2tUWwsHWw

Now, lecture me on how everything changes, how people can do whatever they want, yada yada.

I don't disagree. But I *am* going to notice the numbers game, of media, of people with historical/systematic spheres of greater influence, and how, intentionally or not, things/people can get erased. And how, if one gets their vision of chanties from the Druids at Stonehenge, reinforced over and over through confirmation bias, they're bound to get off course from an accurate vision. No one has to care about that "accurate vision," but it just so happens that I do, so I speak up.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,R J M
Date: 06 Mar 23 - 06:07 AM

Video unavailable,
People will always feck about with songs, murder them or sing them how we think is NOT correct, its beyond our control, let it go, chill out. Its a bit unfair to judge Lloyd on one or two clips, but fair enough to say you do not like it,for me it is unavailable
I do not like the last clip, either.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 06 Mar 23 - 08:01 AM

Please may we get this straight? Ignoring the post about competition, and I may add, quoting from the content of a conversation I had with Roy Palmer, very few people decry Bert for changing Folk songs. A considerable number of people are irritated by Bert's untruths about his sources and invented traditional singers. It makes the already difficult life of the Folklorist more arduous and interrupts the construction of correct archives and indexes. Greater men than I have been a deal more forthright in their condemnation.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,R J M
Date: 06 Mar 23 - 10:00 AM

It all depends on your perceived priorities
Was the life of the folklorist and his construction of correct archives and indexes, as Important to A L Lloyd as increasing the repertoire, encouraging young singers to sing , performing the songs recording the songs.
I am with Bert on this one, more important at that time and now to sing the songs and to increase the repertoire, the repertoire has to be alive that means the inclusion of newly composed songs.[ yes that includes rewrites]
if the songs are not sung, the repertoire becomes dead, nothing more than a museum piece, for scholars to study and argue about.
IMO his Scholarship failings are less important than all his other achievements


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Mar 23 - 10:10 AM

I'm with Nick and Gibb.

The average consumer/performer of folk song (or "folk song") needn't care about these matters, but influential attempts to represent culture should be exceedingly careful about how they do it.

As for erasing or distorting the past, that's becoming something of a movement in the U.S. - on both the left and the right.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,R J M
Date: 06 Mar 23 - 10:10 AM

He was a kind man who was generous with his time and encouraged young singers to find songs.
I never heard him criticise other perfomers publicly in their presence or out of it, he was not a man who was jealous of others success,his priorities were to encourage others to explore AND SING the repertoire "of the people"
A man who is remembered fondly by many of his contemporaries, a man of the people, who loved people


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,R J M
Date: 06 Mar 23 - 10:20 AM

Distorting the past has happened in history books for centuries.History is written by the victors.
My nephew did his first ten years schooling in England then moved to France, he said to me it was intersting , quote
"I learned that the French in French history books won the same battles as the English in their history books"
The Establishment has always distorted history,it is nothing new, History is Propaganda, it is biased, it is written from the victors point of view
Bert was no more dishonest than our establishment masters


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Mar 23 - 01:53 PM

Everything you say is absolutely right, RJM. Bert's contribution to and influence on our music is beyond reproach from a performance point of view, and generally on what we loosely call the folk scene.

However, there are also scholars who feel the need to state, myself among them, that a lot of what Bert wrote and said was fabricated to some degree.

As I've stated here many times I sing and love many of Bert's concoctions, but I wouldn't include any of them in my research unless verified from other sources, or if I was researching the fakelore tradition which in fact I have been known to do.

The study of folk music may not have such a high profile as the performance, but it is never-the-less important, and not to be decried or minimised here.


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Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 06 Mar 23 - 02:23 PM

History is written by the victors.

“It became necessary to destroy the shanties to save them.”

TikTok and Wellerman are top o' the pops at the moment. Still nothing to do with naval science.


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