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Lyr Req: Unst Boat Song / Uist Boat Song

R. Eamon Graham - robertg@awod.com 10 Jun 97 - 11:43 PM
GUEST,jjlajo@yahoo.com 17 Nov 04 - 09:09 AM
John Routledge 17 Nov 04 - 12:27 PM
GUEST 17 Nov 04 - 03:49 PM
Megan L 17 Nov 04 - 04:43 PM
Malcolm Douglas 17 Nov 04 - 07:52 PM
John Routledge 17 Nov 04 - 07:59 PM
Lighter 17 Nov 04 - 08:32 PM
Joe Offer 17 Nov 04 - 09:05 PM
GUEST,Frances Bennett 01 May 08 - 09:22 AM
GUEST,leeneia 01 May 08 - 10:30 AM
GUEST,Richard Fleming 30 Jun 08 - 01:26 AM
Megan L 30 Jun 08 - 04:00 AM
Malcolm Douglas 30 Jun 08 - 04:34 AM
Joe Offer 01 Jul 08 - 10:46 PM
Jim Carroll 02 Jul 08 - 02:36 AM
GUEST,Robin from Unst 19 Feb 09 - 02:10 PM
GUEST,Richard Fleming 07 Dec 09 - 03:08 PM
GUEST,leeneia 08 Dec 09 - 10:40 AM
Joe Offer 08 Dec 09 - 03:13 PM
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Subject: Unst Boat Song
From: R. Eamon Graham - robertg@awod.com
Date: 10 Jun 97 - 11:43 PM

Does anyone know anything about a song called "Unst Boat Song?" Lyrics or any kind of info would be appreciated. I heard it on "The Thistle and Shamrock" several years ago. Thanks!


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Subject: Lyr Add: UNST BOAT SONG (trad. Shetlands)
From: GUEST,jjlajo@yahoo.com
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 09:09 AM

The song "Unst boat song", as far I know, is in norn (old language of Shetlands, close related with foroyar and icelandic).
I know the version of Hom Bru in the album "Obadeea"
The lyrics are:

1.- Starka virna vestalie,
Obadeea, obadeea.
Starka virna vestalie,
Obadeea monye

2.- Stala, stoita, stonga raer;
Oh, whit says du da bunshka baer;
Oh, whit says du da bunshka baer;
Litra mae vae, drengie.

3.- Saina papa wara,
Obadeea, obadeea.
Saina papa wara,
Obadeea monye.

I don't know the translation. Does anyone know it?


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Subject: RE: Unst Boat Song
From: John Routledge
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 12:27 PM

The song is a small fragment of a long epic.

It describes the scene in the harbour as wives and children nervously watch a storm brew up whilst waiting for husbands/fathers to return from fishing.

A really beautiful song.


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Subject: RE: Unst Boat Song
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 03:49 PM

If it's a scottish song, then it's "Uist" I think, that might help your searching. There's a Uist Marching or Tramping song, don't know the Boat song.


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Subject: RE: Unst Boat Song
From: Megan L
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 04:43 PM

It was recorded by Hom Bru on thier album Obadeeaa - 1982

it was originally gathered along with some 11 or so others from John Stikle on the island of Unst for collector Patrick Shuldham‑Shaw in 1947. Unst is part of the Shetland archepeligeo.


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Subject: RE: Unst Boat Song
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 07:52 PM

From John Stickle, as Megan says; Pat Shuldham-Shaw recorded some 94 items from him over the years, both tunes and songs. He didn't publish The Unst Boat Song, though, as William Ratter had already noted it; it was first published by the Viking Society for Northern Research (as A Boat Song from Unst), but I don't have bibliographical details.

Is there any evidence that this is part of a longer song? Offhand, I don't find any translation or further background information; though both will be available somewhere, of course.

I thought that I was bad at geography; but confusing Unst and Uist? Good heavens. Our "Guest" must be from aways off.


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Subject: RE: Unst Boat Song
From: John Routledge
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 07:59 PM

A group of us learned this song at Folkworks Summer School 2001?

It was introduced as part of an epic. Will see what I can find.


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Subject: RE: Unst Boat Song
From: Lighter
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 08:32 PM

Can someone post the melody?


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Subject: RE: Unst Boat Song
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 09:05 PM

If you have a melody, you can post it in ABC in the Forum, or you can e-mail me a MIDI for posting.
thanks.
-Joe Offer-
joe@mudcat.org


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Unst Boat Song
From: GUEST,Frances Bennett
Date: 01 May 08 - 09:22 AM

The translation is:

Stronger wind comes from the wester
Curse the weather, curse the weather
Stronger wind comes from the wester
Curses from all us sailors!

Stow the shrouds, the yeards and sails,
The dear old ship she'll ride the gales
The dear old ship she'll ride the gales
So give her the best you can, boys

Bless the ship, almighty Father
Curse the weather, curse the weather
Bless the ship, almighty Father
Curses from all us sailors!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Unst Boat Song
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 01 May 08 - 10:30 AM

Thanks for posting, Frances. That's most interesting.

Deep-sea fishing has been called the world's most dangerous occupation (by some office of the United Nations), and this song reflects that well.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Unst Boat Song / Uist Boat Song
From: GUEST,Richard Fleming
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 01:26 AM

The song can be heard here.

http://www.shetland-music.com/


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Unst Boat Song / Uist Boat Song
From: Megan L
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 04:00 AM

Richards link   It is also on "Isles asleep" By shirley and Larry Peterson


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Unst Boat Song / Uist Boat Song
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 04:34 AM

Those are modern interpretations, though, rather slowed-down and prettified. For the real thing, listen to John Stickle himself. The full song is available nowadays as a paid-for download, but an excerpt at a lower sampling rate (actually most of the song) can be heard -for example- via this URL:

http://www.mp3fiesta.com/preview/783752.m3u


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Unst Boat Song / Uist Boat Song
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 10:46 PM

Jim Carroll sent this for posting, but he didn't cite his source. It's similar to what's posted above, but with some differences. Tune will follow. Thanks, Jim.
-Joe Offer-


4. THE UNST BOAT SONG, sung by John Stickle, Baltasound, Unst, Shetland; recorded by Patrick Shuldham-Shaw.

John Stickle, a cooper, a good fiddler in his time and a humorous man with a broad knowledge of Shetland dialect and old Shetland songs, was born in Unst in 1879 and died there 73 years later. Perhaps the most remarkable of his songs was this ancient boat song in Norn, a form of Norse-language, whose leader chorus structure indicates that it was once a song for rowing - perhaps on board Norse galleys. The song has been published in the Shetland Folk Book, vol. 2 (Shetland Times, Lerwick, 1951.) somewhat overedited by William Ratter.


1. Starka virna vestilie
Obadee-a, obadee-a
Starka virna vestilie
Obadee-a monye

2. Stala, stoita, stonga, raera
'T what ta doo, da bunshka baera
'T what ta doo, da bunshka baera
A litera mae vee drengie

3. Saina papa wara
Obadee-a, obadee-a
Saina papa wara
Obadee-a monye

English Translation:

1 Stronger wind comes from the wester
Curse the weather, curse the weather
Stronger wind comes from the wester
Curses from all us sailors.

2. Stow the shrouds, the yards and sails
The dear old ship she'll ride the gales
The dear old ship she'll ride the gales
So give her the best you can, boys.

3. Bless the ship, almighty father
Curse the weather, curse the weather
Bless the ship, almighty father
Curses from all us sailors.


Click to play

(tune from Leeneia 8 Dec 2009)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Unst Boat Song / Uist Boat Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 02:36 AM

Sorry Joe,
It's John Stickle's version (as was the tune I sent) and came from the notes of Folk Songs of Britain.
Worried about being sued!!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Unst Boat Song / Uist Boat Song
From: GUEST,Robin from Unst
Date: 19 Feb 09 - 02:10 PM

In response to the Jim Carroll/ Joe Offer posts, it is actually
"Oh, Whit says du da bunshka baer" in the second verse.

The translation that is posted sounds like it has been padded out a bit, my understanding of the words are a little more simplistic and follows;

Strong wind form the Wester
Trouble Trouble
Strong wind from the Wester
Trouble men

Put in order, brace up the mast and yards
oh what say you boat (Da Bunshka Bear is literally "the boat that will carry her sail")
Oh what say you boat
I'm pleased with that boys

Bless us our father
Trouble Trouble
Bless us our father
Trouble men.

I understand this to be the words using the Shetland Folk Society book from 1973 "Da Sands at a'll sing ta dee" and clarification on the words from the Jacob Jacobsen Etymological Dictionary of Norn.
Also I would say that this is a more likely translation because this is more the way that Shetlander's speak - short and sweet.

I would like to see Uist Boat Song removed because this is very much a Shetland song.

The tune is pretty simplistic, in D major, 6/8 time
CAPITAL = crotchet, lowercase = quaver, Capital: = dotted crotchet

BbBb AgGa BbAd BdAd BbBb AgGa BbAd B:B rest

This is repeated for all verses.

This song should match the rhythm of rowing so think of that kind of motion in it.

It is suspected that this was part of a larger song but by the time that anyone recorded anything of the Norn language it was nearing its death so this is sadly one of the last records that we have of the language in use. Words in Norn were quite specific to describing things, for instance there are at least 3 words to describe daybreak.

Hope everyone keeps enjoying this fantastic tune.

Thanks
Robin


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Unst Boat Song / Uist Boat Song
From: GUEST,Richard Fleming
Date: 07 Dec 09 - 03:08 PM

The link above to John Stickle doesn't seem to work, but this should: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoGGrqWJFeo

The Norn is challenging. Even modern Shetland dialect has vowel sounds different from those in English, and this is more different again.

I can offer no intelligence to the debate, but I do like the song, particularly Hom Bru's version, though I can't comment on its authenticity. I had the rather unusual opportunity of playing it to the remains of a Uyeasound Regatta commitee meeting. My voice instantly gives away my non Shetland roots, and to say they were surprised would be an understatement. They certainly did not throw me off the island.

I echo Robin's comment about editing out the rather emabarassing guessed reference to Uist.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Unst Boat Song / Uist Boat Song
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 08 Dec 09 - 10:40 AM

I have made a MIDI from the recording linked by Malcolm Douglas above. If Joe is available, he should be posting it here soon.

John Stickle got off to a shakey start there, and the first note is partway between an A and a B. I've decided it was an A.

As I hear it, it's in the key of C (or its relative minor, Am.) If you want to put chords to it, experiment with C, Am, F and G.

Click to play


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Unst Boat Song / Uist Boat Song
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Dec 09 - 03:13 PM

refresh - tune from leeneia posted

Click to play


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