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'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits

DigiTrad:
OH, MY ROLLING RIVER
SHENANDOAH


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Shenandoah (Fisherman's Friends) (21)
(origins) Origin: Shenandoah (189)
Lyr Add: 'Shenandoah' in the U.S. army (9)
Lyr Add: Shenandoah (32)
Shenandoah Origin (29)
Lyr Req: Shenandoah en francais (7)
Help: Land of Misery (Shenandoah) (10)
Shenandoah (11) (closed)
Shenandoah and free melodies (8)
Origin: Shenandoah (8) (closed)
Lyr Req: Shenandoah (12) (closed)


Taconicus 21 Oct 16 - 09:45 AM
Keith A of Hertford 21 Oct 16 - 10:06 AM
Taconicus 21 Oct 16 - 10:16 AM
Taconicus 21 Oct 16 - 10:22 AM
Lighter 21 Oct 16 - 10:42 AM
Steve Gardham 21 Oct 16 - 10:42 AM
doc.tom 21 Oct 16 - 11:14 AM
leeneia 21 Oct 16 - 11:23 AM
GUEST 21 Oct 16 - 12:01 PM
Will Fly 21 Oct 16 - 01:34 PM
Keith A of Hertford 21 Oct 16 - 01:49 PM
Steve Gardham 21 Oct 16 - 03:07 PM
GUEST,LynnH 21 Oct 16 - 03:27 PM
Lighter 21 Oct 16 - 03:31 PM
GUEST,LynnH 21 Oct 16 - 03:35 PM
GUEST 21 Oct 16 - 03:59 PM
Taconicus 21 Oct 16 - 05:00 PM
Joe_F 21 Oct 16 - 06:06 PM
Greg F. 21 Oct 16 - 06:06 PM
Felipa 21 Oct 16 - 06:49 PM
Taconicus 21 Oct 16 - 06:50 PM
Keith A of Hertford 22 Oct 16 - 04:53 AM
GUEST,Sol 22 Oct 16 - 06:49 AM
GUEST,Sol 22 Oct 16 - 06:51 AM
GUEST 22 Oct 16 - 07:52 AM
Will Fly 22 Oct 16 - 07:53 AM
Dave Hanson 22 Oct 16 - 08:37 AM
Lighter 22 Oct 16 - 08:38 AM
Ian 22 Oct 16 - 02:11 PM
GUEST,Sol 22 Oct 16 - 03:18 PM
ChanteyLass 22 Oct 16 - 05:08 PM
GUEST 22 Oct 16 - 07:15 PM
Tattie Bogle 23 Oct 16 - 04:49 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 23 Oct 16 - 04:36 PM
Greg F. 23 Oct 16 - 04:38 PM
Felipa 23 Oct 16 - 06:04 PM
Stanron 23 Oct 16 - 07:13 PM
meself 23 Oct 16 - 08:43 PM
ChanteyLass 23 Oct 16 - 08:56 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 23 Oct 16 - 10:02 PM
meself 23 Oct 16 - 10:24 PM
Allan Conn 24 Oct 16 - 02:15 AM
GUEST,Sol 24 Oct 16 - 07:00 AM
GUEST 24 Oct 16 - 09:35 AM
Greg F. 24 Oct 16 - 09:39 AM
leeneia 24 Oct 16 - 10:16 AM
Tattie Bogle 24 Oct 16 - 08:16 PM
GUEST,Some bloke or other 25 Oct 16 - 03:03 AM
GUEST,matt milton 25 Oct 16 - 05:07 AM
GUEST,Lanfranc sans cookie 25 Oct 16 - 05:45 PM
Gibb Sahib 21 Apr 17 - 03:21 AM
Thompson 21 Apr 17 - 03:25 AM
Ged Fox 21 Apr 17 - 03:56 AM
leeneia 21 Apr 17 - 10:00 AM
meself 21 Apr 17 - 07:47 PM
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Subject: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Taconicus
Date: 21 Oct 16 - 09:45 AM

To all those British (English/Scottish/Irish) folk singers out there who like to perform the American folk song "Shenandoah": Please don't pronounce it as four syllables with an "UH" at the end. That sounds horrid. (I'm not sure if this is analogous in awfulness, but would you pronounce Edinburgh ed-in-bu-ROW?)

Try to pronounce "Shenandoah" as a three syllable word, with "oah" a single syllable diphthong. Aside from that, I can't really describe how it should sound. In fact, the best bet if you're not born to it is to just sing shen-en-DOH ? that's how American choruses sing it anyway. The final syllable DOH will blend into the next word ("I") and it will sound fine.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 21 Oct 16 - 10:06 AM

This Brit says Shan An Dor as US flms and TV series always did.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Taconicus
Date: 21 Oct 16 - 10:16 AM

"Door" at the end is nearly as bad. You may think you're singing at the way you heard it, but trust me, you're not. The difference is very obvious to American ears. Just end with DOH (dough) and you'll do fine.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Taconicus
Date: 21 Oct 16 - 10:22 AM

Here's an example of a decent pronunciation. (The lyrics are modern, but one can't have everything.) :-)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NmKp5A8i3M

Just trying to help.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Lighter
Date: 21 Oct 16 - 10:42 AM

The collector Richard Runciman Terry wrote that "English seamen usually pronounced it 'Shannandore.'" (I.e., "Shannandaw.")

"Shannadaw" must also have been sung, since one printed version is called "Oceanida."   

Either way the "r" might or might not have appeared before a vowel like "I."

The usual U.S. pronunciation of the valley, river, county, and town is "Shen-an-do-ah."

But that's a poorer fit for the meter in any case.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Oct 16 - 10:42 AM

Thanks for the tip, T! But I'm afraid the mid-Atlantic shantymen never went to elocution school and over here we like to put on some show of authenticity. Whall tells us 'Shannadore' was something like it was pronounced at sea in the 19thc. Can't recall having heard it being sung as a straight song except by opera singers and that sounds god-awful!


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: doc.tom
Date: 21 Oct 16 - 11:14 AM

John Short - who actually sang shanties for his living also agreed with Whall, and Terry, and Sharp: the English shantyman always sang 'shannadore', or a close approximation. Oh, and by the way, while advice is being given to us Brits, it's a shanty - a capstan shanty according to most authorities - and would therefore be sung in rhythm and at capstan speed - not as 'an American folk song'!


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: leeneia
Date: 21 Oct 16 - 11:23 AM

I don't believe any seamen sang it at sea in the 19th century. It's too beautiful, lyrical, emotional - in word, sappy - for seamen. Any seaman singing that on board would have been thought to be playing for the other team.

And Taconicus is right, it's pronounced Shenn-ann-doh in the song. If you don't want to look like a dweeb, sing it that way.   

A geographical name, such as Shenandoah Valley, is pronounced Shenn-ann-do-uh.

It is futile to argue about pronunciation involving R. Even today, with education and movies, English speakers from different areas handle R differently. Some drop it, some trill it, some voice it. Some put it where it doesn't belong (arear for area) and some leave it off where it does belong (carpentuh for carpenter).

Claiming that one R or another is authentic is just plain silly.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Oct 16 - 12:01 PM

Then there's the "Shan" versus "Shen"


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Will Fly
Date: 21 Oct 16 - 01:34 PM

This Wikipedia article on the song makes it plain it was very popular with, and sung by sailors.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oh_Shenandoah


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 21 Oct 16 - 01:49 PM

US actor Robert Horton singing a version in 1965,
https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=robert+horton+singing+shenandoah&&view=detail&mid=1C1E11F939AF3E8C4FFC1C1E11F939AF3E8C4FFC&FORM=VRDGAR

I don't believe any seamen sang it at sea in the 19th century.
They did.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Oct 16 - 03:07 PM

Leeneia,
The seaman's repertoire was just as full of sentimental flowery songs as it was the rough stuff. Same applies to the armed forces particularly during wartime.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: GUEST,LynnH
Date: 21 Oct 16 - 03:27 PM

Chris Coe sings/used to sing this as a slow 'lament' with concertina accompaniment. She used to say that she'd got Stan Hugill's approval as a womans version.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Lighter
Date: 21 Oct 16 - 03:31 PM

"Shenandoah" wouldn't necessarily have sounded very flowery sung rhythmically and unaccompanied by untrained singers at moderate speed while tramping around a capstan.

Besides, the usual words aren't really "flowery." And when crossed with ribald verses from "Sally Brown" it could even be bawdy.

While the melody is truly a great one, its romantic qualities are most evident in orchestral arrangements of the kind we've all heard - but that old-time seamen had not.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: GUEST,LynnH
Date: 21 Oct 16 - 03:35 PM

Sorry, I've confused Shenandoah with Shallow Brown, which is actually the shanty Chris sings.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Oct 16 - 03:59 PM

Whether British singers said "ore" or not doesn't matter-it's an American song, Americans should knowe how to say it better


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Taconicus
Date: 21 Oct 16 - 05:00 PM

Robert Horton was an American actor, born in LA, and may have never even heard the folksong or its pronunciation until the Hollywood writers produced that bastardized version for him to sing. Frankly, most Americans today are probably equally clueless about the pronunciation.

Incidentally, I wasn't speaking of the later sea shanty but of the original early 19th century folksong. I believe it originated with Missouri River traders and was about a native chief and his daughter. I guess you could call it a river song.

British singers can of course sing it in front of British audiences however they like and however the British like to hear it. I was just giving y'all a heads up about the way it sounds to Americans who are familiar with the folk song.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Joe_F
Date: 21 Oct 16 - 06:06 PM

leneeia: America has as many varieties of (non)rhoticity as Britain, tho their sociology & geography are different. As Ogden Nash memorably put it,
    Every state is a separate star
    With a different approach to the letter R.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Greg F.
Date: 21 Oct 16 - 06:06 PM

Whether British singers said "ore" or not doesn't matter-it's an American song, Americans should knowe how to say it better

Hmmm.....Then, on the other hand, you have the Shen-En-Dough'-A Valley, the Shen-En-Dough'-A River, Shen-En-Dough'-A National Park, & etc.

Who's mispronouncing what, pray tell?


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Felipa
Date: 21 Oct 16 - 06:49 PM

I learned this song in New York with 4 syllables and that's how I heard Americans sing it. But what would indigenous people say? Wikipedia says the indigenous name for Shenandoah was Senantona.and another source (John Walter Wayland, The German Element of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginiasays the native people of the area were the Senedos.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Taconicus
Date: 21 Oct 16 - 06:50 PM

Hmmm.....Then, on the other hand, you have the Shen-En-Dough'-A Valley, the Shen-En-Dough'-A River, Shen-En-Dough'-A National Park, & etc.

The pronunciation of the final -a sound will vary a bit depending on whether the next word is a consonant or vowel-sound. Also, I'm not saying that the final -a isn't there; it is pronounced but is somewhat swallowed, sort of like the -u at the end of the Japanese word desu. I'm just trying to warn against the strong enunciation of UH as a separate syllable/beat.

When singing, the final doah should be a single beat. The Corries did a pretty good job (in most of the verses) in their version.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 22 Oct 16 - 04:53 AM

I believe it originated with Missouri River traders and was about a native chief and his daughter.

That is the version given by John Samson in his 1927 "Seven Seas Shanty Book."


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: GUEST,Sol
Date: 22 Oct 16 - 06:49 AM

Springsteen sings it as Shanandaw on his Seagate Sessions, IIRC.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: GUEST,Sol
Date: 22 Oct 16 - 06:51 AM

Sorry, Seager Sessions - damn spellcheck


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Oct 16 - 07:52 AM

Or even Seeger Sessions. :-)

It matters little who pronounces what for this sort of thing - an old song that's gone through many changes in its history and has been sung by many different people in different circumstances. Isn't it what's known as the "folk process?"

What matters is whether it's a song worthy of singing and, from its history, it obviously is.

I'm reminded of the old English song, "The Lincolnshire Poacher", which crossed the Atlantic and evolved into a nursery rhyme with a Caribbean lilt in the Virgin Islands. A lady called Mrs. Rollins sang it to her son when they lived in New York and, many years later, he wrote a great tune based on it called "St. Thomas". Now that's what I call the folk process!


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Will Fly
Date: 22 Oct 16 - 07:53 AM

Last post was from me - had to reset me cookie...


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 22 Oct 16 - 08:37 AM

Hi Taconicus, while your at it can you teach Paul Simon to sing, ' Scarborough Fair ' not ' Scarborow '

thanks, Dave H


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Lighter
Date: 22 Oct 16 - 08:38 AM

Whether the Missouri river folksong, which is so often mentioned, ever existed is a moot point. The only *primary* source mentioning its existence is Captain Whall in 1910:

"Originally it was a song, not a shanty, and had nothing to do with salt water. ...It must be quite fifty years since it was sung *as a song.* [Whall's emphasis.] It probably came from the American or Canadian *voyageurs,* who were great singers. ...Besides being sung at sea, this song figured in old public school collections. When very young I heard a Harrow boy sing it. That must be fifty years ago."

Whall's version is the one about the chief and his daughter: nothing flowery or sentimental there, slightly ribald actually.

Whall adds that "the usual pronunciations by American singers" were "Mizzourah" and "Shannadore."

Despite searching vast digitized collections of Google Books and HathiTrust and innumerable newspaper and periodical collections, I've
never been able to track down the "song" version that "figured in old public school collections." It should have been easy to find.

Whall makes no suggestion that the "Harrow boy" sang anything ca1860 *other* than the chief-and-daughter-firewater kind of text that Whall prints.

In any case, the boy may have learned the chantey from a relative or acquaintance who'd been at sea. That certainly appears to be likely.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Ian
Date: 22 Oct 16 - 02:11 PM

I would guess that in the 1800s that a great majority of Americans would be singing and speaking with their own native land accents. So the pronunciation today will be different to then. It all depends on the accent of the locality at the time. The valley of which the song is in praise of was home to a large German population.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: GUEST,Sol
Date: 22 Oct 16 - 03:18 PM

Apparently Shenandoah is Algonquian meaning "beautiful daughter of the stars".
Any Algonquians on Mudcat that could settle the pronunciation question once and for all?


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: ChanteyLass
Date: 22 Oct 16 - 05:08 PM

You might take a look at this video recorded by Gibb Sahib (where is he when we need him on this thread?) under the name hultonclint at Mystic Seaport. Here Shenandoah has morphed into a rowing chantey with religious overtones (my interpretation, anyway), and Missouri has become Misery. The song starts at about 5 minutes, but the whole demo is interesting. Stick with the clip until the end where you'll hear the words more clearly in a concert presentation.
BTW, someone from that state told me that whether you say Miz-or-y or Miz-or-a depends on the part of the state in which you live.
https://youtu.be/xq4SMyj4R_I


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Oct 16 - 07:15 PM

Gibb Sahib (where is he when we need him on this thread?)
Nearly all decent folk were driven away by trolls years ago.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 23 Oct 16 - 04:49 AM

I learned the song in an English primary school, so 60 years ago: our pronunciation was much as you suggest, Taconicus. The bit that does seem to differ between versions is:
"Away, I'm bound away" or
"Away, I'm bound to go". We learned the latter version.

As for pronunciation of Edinburgh, Americans do pronounce it Edinborrow, some southern English put in an extra g, making it Edingburrah, while we who live there say something like Embra.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 23 Oct 16 - 04:36 PM

For Heaven's sake - it's a shanty, not an elocution lesson!

Regards


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Greg F.
Date: 23 Oct 16 - 04:38 PM

And then there's Featherstonehaugh, Beauchamp & Belvoir .....


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Felipa
Date: 23 Oct 16 - 06:04 PM

I was at an international choral concert today. A group from Poznan, Poland sang Shenandoah and I was bothered by the pronunciation of Missouri. It sounded rather like "misery" (or misory), without the requisite stress on the second syllable.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Stanron
Date: 23 Oct 16 - 07:13 PM

The idea that Americans should start a thread about how the English should pronounce their own language is mildly amusing. Please continue to amuse me.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: meself
Date: 23 Oct 16 - 08:43 PM

Newsflash: English is the language of Americans, too. The idea that the English in England have some kind of peculiar claim on the English language would be laughable, if it weren't so ... laughable .... Amused?


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: ChanteyLass
Date: 23 Oct 16 - 08:56 PM

I didn't realize that Shenandoah was an English word. Please pardon this American's ignorance!


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 23 Oct 16 - 10:02 PM

Stanron: "...Americans should start a thread about how the English should pronounce their own language."
"...how the English should pronounce Algonquin in French."
FTFY

meself: "English is the language of Americans, too."
Más o menos.

Popcorn NE1?


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: meself
Date: 23 Oct 16 - 10:24 PM

Sorry - no comprendez. No speaka d'inglis.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Allan Conn
Date: 24 Oct 16 - 02:15 AM

The whole thread is a bit of a waste of time anyway. Telling a whole nation's folk community how to pronounce a place name is a bit like spitting in the wind. It is unlikely to have any impact and does nothing more than advertise one's own irritation over something you can't really change. Hence no I wouldn't say "Edinburrow" but the fact remains that lots of American tourists who come here do say that! What would the point be of going on-line and lecturing them?


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: GUEST,Sol
Date: 24 Oct 16 - 07:00 AM

A bit like trying to teach Brits how to pronounce "Neuw Yoyk".
(Hee hee)


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Oct 16 - 09:35 AM

Here's what I think. There was an Oneida Indian chief, from whose name we take the name, Shenandoah, because of a trapper's song. That trapper's song was made into both a capstan and a wool-and-cotton shanty. I went to college in the Shenandoah valley and my roommate married a woman from Shenandoah VA. Here in Virginia we say " shen-an-do-ah," but this has nothing to do with how the trappers, or the Oneida chief, or the English and American sailors pronounced it. The important thing about singing this song is not to turn it in into elevator music. I have a recording from the Mystic Connecticut whaling museum that has the song as a capstan, but I have never heard it sung as a wool-and-cotton shanty. If anyone knows of a performance as a wool-and-cotton shanty, I'd appreciate a reference. By the way, here in VA, "Lafayette" is pronounced "la- feet."


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Greg F.
Date: 24 Oct 16 - 09:39 AM

That's YAAWK, Sol.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: leeneia
Date: 24 Oct 16 - 10:16 AM

I just looked at Shenandoah in the DT. (see link above)

This song has a beautiful melody but trivial words. And when you get into "the white man loved the Indian maiden," it becomes downright cringeworthy.

If you want to sing the beautiful song, learn "Across the Wide Missouri," which was sung by the Kingston Trio can easily be found on the Internet. It won't win the Pulitzer Prize, but it won't make you cringe, either.

Historical note: the Missouri wide today, but before it was channelized, it was three times wider. Also shallower and slower, except when it was flooding.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 24 Oct 16 - 08:16 PM

Well if it's any comfort (not!) yer man who apparently pronounced it near enough right (21.10.16. 10.22. am) got the words of Loch Lomond wrong in another of his YouTubes. Na-na-na-na-nah!
Have to agree with Allan Conn above: its this not just a bit too obsessional?


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: GUEST,Some bloke or other
Date: 25 Oct 16 - 03:03 AM

Language is a funny old thing and it's only really poems and lyrics of a few hundred years ago that give us an insight into how pronounce as something set up to rhyme with the end of the previous line must be etc.

It's a bit like with football. We say Bayern Munich. Yet it should really be either Bayern Munchen or Bavarian Munich. Using one German and one anglicised word is illogical yet we are comfortable with it.

I'll pronounce Shenandoah however I'm comfortable and however those hearing me would expect it, should I ever feel the need. Mind you, this odd lecturing means I might be bloody minded anyway.

Our American friends need not worry though. As I type on my phone it suggests emoji pictures to substitute for words. When I typed "football" it suggested what looked like a picture of a rugby ball except when I typed "rugby" just then, it offered a different looking rugby ball. I can only assume for football it suggested the game you play in America rather than the game enjoyed by the rest of the world (fussball if you support Bayern Munich.)

Perhaps if you get us to pronounce Shenandoah as you do, you might in return tell Apple that footballs for 92% of their market are round not rugby shaped?


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 25 Oct 16 - 05:07 AM

Who's to say that, when I sing the song, I'm not actually singing about a completely different girl called Shenandoah whose name was pronounced differently?

Some singers sing Barbera Allen, some sing 'Barbree Allen'. Doubtless that too annoys some listeners used to hearing the song a particular way.

Furthermore, someone with a very strong regional accent from the north of the USA is liable to inflect any given 3 or 4 syllables differently to someone else with a very strong regional accent from the south, east or west of the USA... so isn't this a rather moot point?

I'm more interested in whether the singer singing a song is doing so beautifully.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: GUEST,Lanfranc sans cookie
Date: 25 Oct 16 - 05:45 PM

This Brit has always thought that Shenandoah is not a shanty but a forebitter, that is, a song sung below decks by off-duty seamen. I have also believed that it originated among the trappers and fur traders of 18th/19th century North America and was taken up by the sailors whose ships carried the furs onward to Europe.

I think it's a good story and a beautiful song in the right hands.

Alan


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 21 Apr 17 - 03:21 AM

How one pronounces "Shenandoah" is irrelevant to one's performance of this song. That is, if one imagines one is singing a traditional and/or historical song. The reason being, it's unknown whether the word "Shenandoah" exists at all in the song. There's plenty of evidence to suggest that "Shenandoah" was a mondegreen. If this was the case, the rendering as "Shenandoah" probably (my logic) first appeared in print as someone(s) tried to rationalize the word/name they heard and, later, singers of the song who were exposed to printed versions created their pronunciations under the assumption that "Shenandoah" was the word.

~"Shenandoah" (or whatever word was original/intended) doesn't even figure prominently in the song. If we follow the logic of the vast majority of chanties, the refrains are the only fixed portion, and it is customary to know the songs from the refrains. Hence, the song in question is "Rolling River" (or "Across the Wide Missouri," etc.). "Shenandoah" is not an essential component of the chanty. And yes, it was a chanty? it was mentioned in many testimonies of the 2nd half of the 19th century as and ONLY as a chanty sung in a labor context. NOTHING has been turned up in the 19th century to support the idea that "Rolling River" was sung in any other context. Whall (above) made a claim about it being a non-chanty song a half century before his writing, but no empirical evidence supports that. Whall also made the claim that chanties date back to The Complaynt of Scotland?a work he dated as a century older than it was. Subsequent writers lapped up his statements. It's fair to speculate on the point of when and in what context "Rolling River" was created, but to claim it was anything other than a chanty is pure bullshitting or the repetition of a bullshitter.

There are threads here discussing many songs?all within the ambit of chanties?some of which are clearly variations of "Rolling River" and some which are different songs but which all appear to invoke a variant of the ~name ~Shenandoah. That is, they are variations of that which print authors came to standardize as "Shenandoah." In the majority of these examples, and more so the closer to the source one gets, the variant is something different than "Shenandoah," whether Shanadore, Shannydo, Sunnydo, Salambo, Shanado... perhaps even Shallow Brown and Sally Brown, ... or Seven-long-years... which often fit the same paradigm. One thing that strongly links all these data points is that the songs tend to be associated with people of African-descended cultures of the Western Atlantic. This would not be the first time that writers/singers of one culture misheard an unfamiliar word in another culture's song. (Other candidates for possible mishearings in the chanty repertoire include "ranzo," "hilo," and "rolling king".)

Think that the word _must_ be "Shenandoah," because that is the name of a known thing in the U.S. (as opposed to an unknown thing in the mouths of people from Africa)-- and that all these variations emerged from the lips and pens or people who didn't know the Shenandoah River and, thereby, corrupted the word? I suppose it's possible. But when you put aside all the bullshit narratives of the song in the tradition of Whall (a racist British captain who thought the songs he perceived to be of Black American origin were trash, and who inspired subsequent writers and "researchers" on the topic to ignore the vast wealth of activity of African-Americans STILL singing chanties in favor of meeting decrepit English retired seamen vaguely recalling petrified chanties)... and you put aside what you THINK "the lyrics" are (because some writer standardized some words in a particular volume and then people copied it verbatim, in facsimile after facsimile)... and you also look at the actual lay of the data points-- their appearance in time, who is reporting, etc -- I think you might agree that "Shenandoah" is the product of *standardizing an assumption*, and that you'd have to agree that there is no one correct way to pronounce the word that often crops up in these *songs of African-American folklore*.

(I hope you see what I did there. Framing this set of songs as "African-American folklore" -- something I doubt can be refuted entirely -- would tend to change the way people seek answers about them, as compared to framing them as "sea shanties.")


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Thompson
Date: 21 Apr 17 - 03:25 AM

In Ireland we pronounce it Seanadóir, as we pronounce our senators' title in Irish - Seanadóir, I love your daughter?


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: Ged Fox
Date: 21 Apr 17 - 03:56 AM

At least we know Shenandoah is not Irish - anything originating West of the Tordesillas meridian is African-American: Irish is everything originating East of that line.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: leeneia
Date: 21 Apr 17 - 10:00 AM

Flour or corn tordesillas?

I just took a trip to Shenandoah National park and saw the river. I'm surprised at how small it is.


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Subject: RE: 'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits
From: meself
Date: 21 Apr 17 - 07:47 PM

Another thorough, knowledgeable post from Gibb Sahib. Whether he's right or not, I don't know, but it's refreshing to have someone who's really studied this stuff chime in ... ! Which isn't meant to denigrate anyone else's contribution.


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