Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Origins: Tally I O / Tally High ho (chantey)

Gibb Sahib 09 Mar 13 - 09:04 PM
Lighter 09 Mar 13 - 09:29 PM
Gibb Sahib 09 Mar 13 - 10:29 PM
Steve Gardham 10 Mar 13 - 05:00 AM
Steve Gardham 10 Mar 13 - 05:56 AM
Gibb Sahib 10 Mar 13 - 02:43 PM
Steve Gardham 10 Mar 13 - 04:38 PM
Steve Gardham 10 Mar 13 - 04:51 PM
Steve Gardham 10 Mar 13 - 04:59 PM
Steve Gardham 10 Mar 13 - 05:03 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:





Subject: Origins: Tally I O / Tally High ho (chantey)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 09 Mar 13 - 09:04 PM

This "Tally High ho" chanty has been discussed a few times in various places. Here is a devoted thread.

Below is my current attempt to summarize what I know of the origins. I hope I have not misstepped too much.

Specifically I wonder what people might make of the Dana issue. For example: *If* the chantey was inspired by "A Yankee Ship and a Yankee Crew," is it even possible that Dana sang the song during his "two years before the mast" (1834-36)? If not, this might suggest that Dana's revisions to his travelogue in 1869 were not totally based in his experience of those years.

Here's the rough summary. References are to works discussed elsewhere; I can certainly clarify what they are though. I'll also note that though I've played with deciphering Wright's "Tally" (Carpenter Collection) and I've seen attempted transcriptions by folks like Snuffy, Lighter, and Bob Walser, I don't feel satisfied with much of any of it! It's a tough one.

...
A chanty by the name of "Tally I Oh," or some variation thereof, was extant by the 1830s. Although Dana did not mention it in the 1840 publication of his experiences, 1834-1836, it was added in the 1869 "New Edition" of Two Years Before the Mast. One presumes he later remembered having sung it during the mid-1830s. The possibility that Dana did know the song by that time is supported by the song's mention in a journal entry from September 1839. A sailor visiting Tahiti at that time observed local women singing the song, "Tally Ho, you know," which he characterized as a sailor work-song. If Tahitian women were singing the song in 1839, one supposes that it must have already circulated among sailing ship crews for some time. "Tally" later appears in the journals of a woman, Mary Brewster, who was aboard a whaleship in the late 1840s. She reported that the anchor was weighed to "Tally hi o you know".
        Although the origin of the chanty is unknown, its appearance as such was preceded by a music hall song containing a similar refrain. "A Yankee Ship and a Yankee Crew," credited to Charles M. King (melody) and J.S. Jones (words), which was performed by a Mr. Davenport in theaters of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, opened with the phrase,

A Yankee ship and a Yankee crew;
                    Tally hi ho! you know! 

O'er the bright blue waves like a sea-bird flew;
                    Singing hey! aloft and alow!

An engraving from the cover of the sheet music depicts the Boston Brigade Band, in a performance from 31 May 1837; "A Yankee Ship and a Yankee Crew" is called "The New Nautical Song." If it was truly new at that time, it may have been a bit too late to have been an influence on Dana's proposed chanty. Intriguingly, Dana's revised 1869 edition also adds the song title, "Dandy ship and a dandy crew," as if it were a different chanty from "Tally high ho! you know." And yet, "Dandy ship" may have been a variation of "Yankee ship" in another version of the song. A minstrel-style variant of "Yankee ship," whose lyrics allude to rowing, was "A Darkey Band and a Darkey Crew":

A darkey band and a darkey crew,
                    Tally ya ha higho!
Are out in de West care killers so true,
                    Ya ha! ha! an' higho!

This chanty appears to have barely survived down into the prime years of the chanty genre. One of Carpenter's informants, James Wright of Leith, claimed to have heard the chanty in the late 1870s or early '80s on a Liverpool ship in Calcutta. It was sung by the vessel's Black cook. Wright's recording may be the only one of this song to exist. Unfortunately, the lyrics are extremely difficult to decipher. It seems he begins with a verse that might be,

Tally-i-o was a silly [/jolly] old [soul]
    Tally-i-o, tally-i-o
With a tally-i-o, with a tilly-o-yo
    Sing tally-i-o, you know

Some version of the chanty was also known in the form of "tiddy." In 1906, Sharp's informant, a Mr. Rapsey, sang three verses with some references to the Bristol-West Indies trade, beginning with,

O now you forbid us to bid you adieu,
    Tiddy i-o io;
We're homeward bound to Bristol town,
    Tiddy i-o i-o i-o.

Hugill got the song, "Tiddy High O" from Tobago Smith. Its 6/8 melody is not far off from Rapsey's. While Wright's is further off, it is still of a similar style. And indeed, Wright's "Tally" melody shows marked similarity to the opening phrases of "A Yankee Ship and a Yankee Crew," suggesting the likely relationship between both.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Tally I O / Tally High ho (chantey)
From: Lighter
Date: 09 Mar 13 - 09:29 PM

Wright's first stanza sounds to me like,

Tally-I-O was a jolly old soul,
Tally-I-O! Tally-I-O!
Tally-I-O was a jolly old soul,
Come tally-I-O, you know!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Tally I O / Tally High ho (chantey)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 09 Mar 13 - 10:29 PM

Thanks, Lighter. I think that is about the *only* one I feel some security about! If one assumes both solo lines in the stanza were intended to be the same (a pretty reasonable assumption), one can fill in the missing (cut off audio) words in the first line with those of the second, as I assume you did. Still...

And the current version of the Carpenter Collection on-line gives that ('jolly old soul') as a first line -- but I wonder whether the "first line" was something indicated by Carpenter or if it was entered in the database as a work-in-progress guess by someone working with the archive. No matter how many times I want to hear "jolly" (though the word does make more sense, to me), I can't help but hear "silly."

I imagine the "code" will be cracked when someone discovers another version or a song with a similar theme. Sharp and Hugill's versions seem to have very different themes. Perhaps some other song with the phrase "jolly old soul" (other than Old King Coal!) will provide a clue.

It would be interesting to hear people's ideas about what "tally" might mean. In the refrains, it is easily explained as nonsense, but in the solo lines it would seem to have meant something more.

I didn't put anything about "Tally-i-o, the Grinder" in my above summary -- mainly because I doubt a significant relationship. But that one is also there. And I have seen a reference to a Dutch (or mock Dutch) song with a "tilly-i-o" refrain, too.

At this point though, I think "Yankee Ship" is close enough that an influence one way or the other was likely.

In all, because "Tally" seems to be one of the few verified chanties of the 1830s, I think it's worthwhile to try to learn something more about it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Tally I O / Tally High ho (chantey)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Mar 13 - 05:00 AM

Gibb,
You seem to have all the info you need above. Oral tradition can move like wildfire when a song becomes very popular. The start of the minstrel songs of about the same period is testament to this. 1837 in Boston-1839 in Tahiti is nothing at all.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Tally I O / Tally High ho (chantey)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Mar 13 - 05:56 AM

As I'm sure you'll know, Tally-ho! was originally the cry of the huntsman who spotted the quarry. It then became endemic as a general hunting expression of greeting among upper classes and was used as a chorus in many hunting songs, particularly though not exclusively the theatrical hunting songs full of flowery description of the 18th century. Such things have a tendency to filter down to the aspiring lower classes and not always in exactly the same form.

My slang dictionaries also give the meaning of 'tally' as living over the brush, what we would call today common-law partner, but I don't think this is connected.

I think 'Tally-I-O' was just another greeting in common usage possibly derived from 'tally-ho'.

Incidentally I can't yet find any examples of its usage in earlier hunting ballads but will keep a look out.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Tally I O / Tally High ho (chantey)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 10 Mar 13 - 02:43 PM

Thanks, Steve. I agree that Boston 1837 > Tahiti 1839 does not present an issue. The issue that is bugging me is where Dana fits in.

-My hypothesis is that the "Tally" chantey derives from the "Yankee Ship" song. There are similarities.

-"Yankee Ship" was "new" in May 1837 Boston. Here's the sheet music cover suggesting the dating of the song.

-Dana's voyage, out of Boston, started Aug. 1834. He returned Sept. 1836. It seems unlikely that "Yankee Ship" was composed early enough to be taken out to Spanish California and made a chanty by Dana's compatriots, or made a chanty ("Tally") and spread to Dana in time for him to have sung it before his return trip around Cape Horn.

-Yet, Dana adds it to his list of chanties sung. Suggesting to me either,
1) If he did sing "Tally," it preceded "Yankee Ship." The similarity of the two songs withstanding, "Yankee Ship" was inspired by the chanty!
2) Dana added it to his list, but he did not actually sing it. He became aware of the chanty afterwards. Which means the list of chanties in the 1869 edition of TYBM can't be trusted!

Looking for a reason to avoid 1) and 2)!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Tally I O / Tally High ho (chantey)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Mar 13 - 04:38 PM

The only way you can resolve this is if a concrete reference to the song turns up that predates 1837.

I would suggest references to 'Tally-I-O' wouldn't be much use as we already know this was in use prior to that date. It would have to be specifically 'Tally I O, you know'

I presume you are aware of the reference to the song in Thompson, p218. He got the song from 'an old songster in Buffalo, The American Vocalist'. He talks of wanting to roar it out as a chantey with a captain friend of his who likes chanteys. If you can find a copy of the songster, it very likely will have a date on it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Tally I O / Tally High ho (chantey)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Mar 13 - 04:51 PM

Checked Thompson's notes at the back and he states The American Vocalist was in the Grosvenor Library Buffalo and it had no date. I'll check the American Songsters I have.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Tally I O / Tally High ho (chantey)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Mar 13 - 04:59 PM

It was printed by J. Wrigley of New York on a broadside, but this would have been 1850s/60s so no help really.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Tally I O / Tally High ho (chantey)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Mar 13 - 05:03 PM

It's also in Heart Songs, edited by Chapple, 4 verses with music, at p72.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 21 June 12:21 PM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.