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Best book of sailor/sea/shanties songs?

Domdaniel 21 Aug 18 - 07:15 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Aug 18 - 07:45 AM
Dave Hanson 21 Aug 18 - 07:52 AM
Mr Red 22 Aug 18 - 03:10 AM
ChanteyLass 22 Aug 18 - 08:28 PM
Marje 23 Aug 18 - 09:52 AM
GUEST,Guest 23 Aug 18 - 10:26 AM
SPB-Cooperator 25 Aug 18 - 09:39 AM
Tootler 25 Aug 18 - 10:55 AM
Steve Gardham 26 Aug 18 - 11:12 AM
Gibb Sahib 26 Aug 18 - 09:28 PM
Charley Noble 27 Aug 18 - 10:22 AM
Mr Red 28 Aug 18 - 02:49 PM
radriano 28 Aug 18 - 05:39 PM
Gibb Sahib 28 Aug 18 - 06:06 PM
Lighter 28 Aug 18 - 07:44 PM
Lighter 28 Aug 18 - 07:44 PM
GUEST,davidkiddnet 28 Aug 18 - 10:56 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 29 Aug 18 - 09:40 PM
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Subject: Best book of sailor/sea/shanties songs?
From: Domdaniel
Date: 21 Aug 18 - 07:15 AM

Hi all,

I've been getting into a bit of sailing lately, and have a friend through that who likes hearing the old (and new) Sailing and maritime-realted songs (shanties, songs about the sea, etc.) that I know. Does anybody have recommendations (perhaps with a short commentary, not just a book title?) of good resources for a few more? The first section of the Penguin Book of English Folk Songs is a good start but I want some more...

thanks and blue skies, Dom


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Subject: RE: Best book of sailor/sea/shanties songs?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Aug 18 - 07:45 AM

The best and most reasonably priced collection I have ever come across is 'Jolly Sailor Bold (Camsco 2010)-
232 sea songs and shanties, all with tunes, extremely well annotated with comprehendable but scholarly notes and pretty comprehensive bibliography
Highly recommended as far as I'm concerned
   
I think I got mine direct from the publisher but you might try The Book Depository and save the cost of the postage
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Best book of sailor/sea/shanties songs?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 21 Aug 18 - 07:52 AM

' Shanties From The Seven Seas ', Stan Hugill. My version is the Mystic Seaport Museum one.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Best book of sailor/sea/shanties songs?
From: Mr Red
Date: 22 Aug 18 - 03:10 AM

Songs of the Sailorman and Lumberman by William Main Doerflinger

My copy is 30 years old ISBN 0-916638-40-5. Very good source. Hugill refers to him.

Amazon et al listed here


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Subject: RE: Best book of sailor/sea/shanties songs?
From: ChanteyLass
Date: 22 Aug 18 - 08:28 PM

Not at all scholarly, and lyrics only, but 130 songs in a small format book: The Pocket Shantyman.

https://www.amazon.com/Pocket-Shantyman-Gary-Coover/dp/0997074833


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Subject: RE: Best book of sailor/sea/shanties songs?
From: Marje
Date: 23 Aug 18 - 09:52 AM

I have the Oxford Book of Sea Songs (ed. Roy Palmer, 1988). A varied selection, presented in roughly chronological order, from the 17th century "John Dory" up to Archie Fisher's "Final Trawl" (1979). There are 159 songs, of which many, but not all, have the tunes, with quite detailed background notes, references, glossary, etc. They are mainly "sea songs" rather than shanties.

Its worst failing is the paperback format, not well suited to a 344-page volume that gets dipped into regularly. My copy is falling apart even though it hasn't had heavy use.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Best book of sailor/sea/shanties songs?
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 23 Aug 18 - 10:26 AM

Best book? I can't say but this should inspire you to sing:

David Coffin - Roll the Old Chariot

Pump up the volume and join in!


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Subject: RE: Best book of sailor/sea/shanties songs?
From: SPB-Cooperator
Date: 25 Aug 18 - 09:39 AM

I'd start with Hugill (hardback if you can find it), then add other works later.


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Subject: RE: Best book of sailor/sea/shanties songs?
From: Tootler
Date: 25 Aug 18 - 10:55 AM

I have Roy Palmer's book "Boxing the Compass" which I have a feeling is the same book as The Oxford Book of Sea Songs. I'm not sure if it was an earlier or later title for the same book. Maybe someone can enlighten.

Either way, I see it as complementing Stan Hugill's book as it includes forebitters and songs about the sea as well as shanties and covers a longer time span. Hugill's book is specifically shanties though he does mention some shanties that were also sung as forebitters.


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Subject: RE: Best book of sailor/sea/shanties songs?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 26 Aug 18 - 11:12 AM

OBSS is the earlier title. Hugill has written several books on sea songs and seafarer's lives. Should be plenty for sale online. Plenty of great info on other threads.


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Subject: RE: Best book of sailor/sea/shanties songs?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 26 Aug 18 - 09:28 PM

I recommend the underrated and overlooked _Songs of Sea Labour_ (1914) by Bullen and Arnold.

It is a collection of songs (with tunes), with just a bit of commentary in the beginning.

This collection is recommended if your interest is specifically chanties (this is the spelling used by the authors). The authors made their best efforts to limit the collection to chanties only. It was only through pressure of the publisher that they were made to include two songs from outside the genre, which are clearly marked, and they make their objection known.

Frank Bullen, a Briton, is responsible for all of the items, which he reproduced them as he used them as an actual chantyman during what was perhaps the zenith of chanty singing (as shipboard practice), the late 1860s through 1870s.

Bullen's presentation is the most honest, in my opinion, of nearly any presenter of chanties in a non-academic, "collection" format. His collection represents a realistic sample of the repertoire sung by a chantyman of that time period. By contrast, while Hugill purports to limit his collection to work-songs and chanties only, he throws in everything including the kitchen sink so long as he can find *somebody* even hinting somewhere (if Wikipedia existed in those days it would have been fair game) that the song was a chanty. He collapses all the time periods as well, and the resulting picture is not representative of the historical chanty repertoire.

While Hugill's authority as a sailor is often touted as an appeal to authority about his book's statements, he was a sailor after the shipboard chanty practice was more or less dead, and, like academic folklorists, was in large part a *collector* of chanties. A healthy chunk of the book entails simple collating of texts published elsewhere, often with insufficient critique of those sources.

Bullen, as a chantyman in practice during the heyday, understood the truly improvisational nature of chanties which appears yet to be inscrutable to Folk Revival performers coming from a particular perspective on what tradition entails. As such, he also stood firm in refusing to offer more than one verse of a song, so as not to give the illusion that the verses were fixed. To contrast Hugill again: Hugill certainly accepted the *variable* nature of the chanty genre, but presented it so as to give more the impression that people sing differently because of the so-called "folk process." When he wrote his book, he freely composed texts—in some cases, as a chantyman would freely compose verses in the moment—yet by setting them down in length/detail he has created the illusion (we can can observe in Folk Revival performances) that Bullen sought to avoid.

The one drawback to the book is that the musicologist with whom Bullen partnered. Arnold, was a bit too literal in some of the transcriptions of Bullen's singing. So, a few of the tunes look overly complicated in rhythm or overly chromatic in pitch. I suppose Arnold took haphazard variations / inconsistencies / mistakes in Bullen's singing performance at face value—which is OK if one is making a document of what Bullen sang, but which doesn't work as a text to sing from. (In these cases, one has to read between the lines.)

Bullen's work was indirectly critiqued by Cecil Sharp—who admit's he'd never heard a chanty sung on a ship—for what he believed was undue credit to African-American culture's "influence" on the chanty genre. (Compare Bullen, who learned his first chanties from Afro-Caribbean stevedores in Guyana.) Cicely Fox Smith directly dismissed Bullen's work by saying that he had "n***er on the brain." In hindsight, these comments were narrow-minded. Mullen was a white Briton who learned to perform in the chanty style as today's white Britons learn to perform Blues. The difference is that today's Blues performers have a sense of the cultural history of their genre, whereas in 1914 writers on chanties—Bullen excluded—were cherry-picking traits of English text and melody in the chanty genre that are shared with English culture (or one part of the synthesis that is "African-American culture") and using that to support their biases.


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Subject: RE: Best book of sailor/sea/shanties songs?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 27 Aug 18 - 10:22 AM

Dom-

It's alright to pick any of the above. Just know that the more you learn, the more questions you'll come up with.

How do you want to use the songs? Is it just curiosity or do you want to lead some?

Cheerily,
Charlie Ipcar


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Subject: RE: Best book of sailor/sea/shanties songs?
From: Mr Red
Date: 28 Aug 18 - 02:49 PM

As such, he also stood firm in refusing to offer more than one verse of a song,

Well lookya here. I would personally avoid any song book the only gave one verse of each song. When all you want is to sing a (s)(c)hanty, wot use is one verse? As a singer/wroncitter I can turn all sorts of verses on a sixpence. But your exposure will find you out. Throw in a knotty bowline with Paddy Doyle and, to be sure, someone will point-out bowlines were not used after 16 hundred and flumph. At least WMDoeflinger gives what he found, a snapshot of the item from one contributor, but a genuine example. So yours can be.

by way of example I extended a genuine collected two verse jobbie with verses including a Union Jack into a song about soldiers. And one grand-daughter of a sea-salt pointed out Jacks were for the sea, Flags for land-lubbing soldiers. I pointed-out the chorus included marines. To which some other ex-matelot opined "marines were nowt but soldiers on a boat". (sorry ship).

Basically, writing yer own verses is a huge spiked, poisoned chalice. Sip. Don't gulp


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Subject: RE: Best book of sailor/sea/shanties songs?
From: radriano
Date: 28 Aug 18 - 05:39 PM

The Mystic version of Hugill's "Shanties from the Seven Seas" is abridged. It's not bad but there are many more songs in the original edition if you can find it.


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Subject: RE: Best book of sailor/sea/shanties songs?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 28 Aug 18 - 06:06 PM

Mr Red,

I took it we were offering recommendations to the OP, with an explanation of why we were recommending. Which is what I did.

I agree that Doerflinger's book is an excellent resource. It has different pros and cons than Bullen's book, and as you had already recommended Doerflinger, I chose to say something about Bullen.

Each offers different *types* of perspective. Consider that Bullen was the sort of person that Doerflinger would have *interviewed* to create his book. Doerflinger's work, therefore, gives us his attempt. as mediator, to assess and collate what he selected to be of relevance from among chantymen he talked to. --Whereas Bullen is one of those very chantymen, doing the selecting of what to include and what to say *himself*. The latter is quite unique amongst all the people who have ever ventured to put together a "collection" of chanties (and I explained why Hugill, for example, was not such a person though he is popularly understood to be).

Re: Your comments about giving one sample verse to each song, I quote myself:
"Bullen, as a chantyman in practice during the heyday, understood the truly improvisational nature of chanties which appears yet to be inscrutable to Folk Revival performers coming from a particular perspective on what tradition entails."


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Subject: RE: Best book of sailor/sea/shanties songs?
From: Lighter
Date: 28 Aug 18 - 07:44 PM

To Gibb's comments, I would add only that Hugill, too, seems to have learned a great many of the chanteys that he himself sang at sea in the 1920s from African-Caribbean chanteymen.

Almost as good as Bullen is Captain W. B. Whall's "Ships, Sea Songs, and Shanties" (1927, with earlier editions).

Whall learned the shanties mainly when he was at sea as a teenager in the 1860s. His versions are not as brief as Bullen's, but they rarely go on for more than three or four stanzas

Whall was highly opinionated, however, and not all of his commentary can be taken at face value. But I don't think anyone has ever criticized the authenticity of his texts and tunes.


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Subject: RE: Best book of sailor/sea/shanties songs?
From: Lighter
Date: 28 Aug 18 - 07:44 PM

To Gibb's comments, I would add only that Hugill, too, seems to have learned a great many of the chanteys that he himself sang at sea in the 1920s from African-Caribbean chanteymen.

Almost as good as Bullen is Captain W. B. Whall's "Ships, Sea Songs, and Shanties" (1927, with earlier editions).

Whall learned the shanties mainly when he was at sea as a teenager in the 1860s. His versions are not as brief as Bullen's, but they rarely go on for more than three or four stanzas

Whall was highly opinionated, however, and not all of his commentary can be taken at face value. But I don't think anyone has ever criticized the authenticity of his texts and tunes.


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Subject: RE: Best book of sailor/sea/shanties songs?
From: GUEST,davidkiddnet
Date: 28 Aug 18 - 10:56 PM

It is very interesting to compare the American versions with the British versions. "Roll and Go, Songs of American Sailormen" by Joanna C. Colcord © 1924 has over 200 songs with well-anoted scores. Colcord was born aboard her fathers sailing ship and spent her youth at sea only finally coming ashore to do college in Social Work. It is now available as eBooks in Nook or Kindle


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Subject: RE: Best book of sailor/sea/shanties songs?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 29 Aug 18 - 09:40 PM

Not about songs but certainly a nautical tale of knotts,

Ashley's Book of Knotts


Will keep you tied up for weeks delving into its nearly 4,000 knots and their uses.

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/03/t-magazine/the-art-of-knots.html

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

Small> Don't step into the forecasts without knowledge of at least one percent.


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