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The origin of Sea Chanteys

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CRANKY YANKEE 14 May 01 - 01:01 PM
IanC 14 May 01 - 01:07 PM
Wolfgang 14 May 01 - 01:18 PM
Micca 14 May 01 - 01:24 PM
CRANKY YANKEE 14 May 01 - 01:34 PM
Mrrzy 14 May 01 - 01:59 PM
CRANKY YANKEE 14 May 01 - 02:07 PM
Don Firth 14 May 01 - 02:12 PM
Naemanson 14 May 01 - 02:21 PM
CRANKY YANKEE 14 May 01 - 02:44 PM
Charley Noble 14 May 01 - 02:46 PM
lady penelope 14 May 01 - 03:13 PM
GUEST,Albamist 14 May 01 - 04:20 PM
radriano 14 May 01 - 04:41 PM
SeanM 14 May 01 - 05:03 PM
Charley Noble 14 May 01 - 05:43 PM
GUEST,Barry Finn, still out & about 14 May 01 - 06:21 PM
GUEST,Pete M at work 14 May 01 - 07:39 PM
toadfrog 14 May 01 - 08:01 PM
SeanM 14 May 01 - 09:44 PM
Margo 15 May 01 - 12:06 AM
GUEST,John 15 May 01 - 01:31 AM
Metchosin 15 May 01 - 02:54 AM
SeanM 15 May 01 - 03:33 AM
Metchosin 15 May 01 - 03:38 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 15 May 01 - 04:31 AM
KingBrilliant 15 May 01 - 05:21 AM
IanC 15 May 01 - 06:19 AM
Naemanson 15 May 01 - 06:26 AM
IanC 15 May 01 - 06:45 AM
Charley Noble 15 May 01 - 08:53 AM
IanC 15 May 01 - 09:08 AM
Dave the Gnome 15 May 01 - 11:02 AM
Metchosin 15 May 01 - 11:12 AM
Ma Fazoo 15 May 01 - 11:32 AM
IanC 15 May 01 - 12:05 PM
CRANKY YANKEE 15 May 01 - 12:10 PM
Naemanson 15 May 01 - 12:10 PM
IanC 15 May 01 - 12:41 PM
CRANKY YANKEE 15 May 01 - 01:13 PM
Dave (the ancient mariner) 15 May 01 - 01:43 PM
GUEST,Melani 15 May 01 - 02:21 PM
SeanM 15 May 01 - 06:00 PM
GUEST,Pete M at work 15 May 01 - 09:49 PM
Charley Noble 15 May 01 - 10:42 PM
GUEST,petr 15 May 01 - 11:00 PM
Metchosin 15 May 01 - 11:16 PM
Mark Cohen 15 May 01 - 11:27 PM
Rebel135 15 May 01 - 11:50 PM
SeanM 16 May 01 - 01:03 AM
Chanteyranger 16 May 01 - 02:43 AM
Naemanson 16 May 01 - 06:11 AM
sophocleese 16 May 01 - 07:48 AM
Naemanson 16 May 01 - 07:54 AM
Charley Noble 16 May 01 - 08:48 AM
SeanM 16 May 01 - 06:41 PM
Uncle_DaveO 16 May 01 - 07:08 PM
Charley Noble 16 May 01 - 07:43 PM
Mark Cohen 16 May 01 - 08:05 PM
Wotcha 16 May 01 - 11:18 PM
SeanM 17 May 01 - 12:57 AM
Metchosin 17 May 01 - 03:06 AM
radriano 17 May 01 - 11:41 AM
Charley Noble 17 May 01 - 08:04 PM
Naemanson 18 May 01 - 08:35 AM
radriano 18 May 01 - 10:42 AM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 18 May 01 - 11:12 AM
Metchosin 18 May 01 - 01:20 PM
GUEST,Melani 18 May 01 - 01:32 PM
Charley Noble 18 May 01 - 01:34 PM
lady penelope 18 May 01 - 02:12 PM
GUEST,folklorist 18 May 01 - 04:59 PM
Shields Folk 18 May 01 - 05:13 PM
Metchosin 18 May 01 - 05:21 PM
Metchosin 18 May 01 - 05:32 PM
SeanM 18 May 01 - 06:28 PM
Mark Cohen 18 May 01 - 07:07 PM
GUEST,folklorist 18 May 01 - 11:21 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 18 May 01 - 11:23 PM
SeanM 18 May 01 - 11:30 PM
Chanteyranger 19 May 01 - 12:08 AM
GUEST,Les Jones 19 May 01 - 03:48 AM
Dave (the ancient mariner) 19 May 01 - 07:48 AM
Charley Noble 19 May 01 - 10:44 AM
GUEST,chanteyranger 19 May 01 - 12:04 PM
Charley Noble 19 May 01 - 01:07 PM
Metchosin 19 May 01 - 01:55 PM
GUEST,folklorist 19 May 01 - 04:02 PM
lady penelope 19 May 01 - 04:10 PM
SeanM 19 May 01 - 05:03 PM
GUEST,chanteyranger 19 May 01 - 05:20 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 19 May 01 - 06:07 PM
Charley Noble 19 May 01 - 06:51 PM
Barry Finn 25 May 01 - 04:03 PM
Wendy_ 25 May 01 - 05:00 PM
Wendy_ 25 May 01 - 05:13 PM
Mark Cohen 25 May 01 - 08:12 PM
toadfrog 26 May 01 - 03:48 PM
GUEST,Gareth Williams 26 May 01 - 04:22 PM
Charley Noble 27 May 01 - 12:03 PM
CRANKY YANKEE 27 May 01 - 01:10 PM
GUEST,chanteyranger 27 May 01 - 01:21 PM
CRANKY YANKEE 27 May 01 - 02:47 PM
CRANKY YANKEE 27 May 01 - 03:44 PM
Charley Noble 27 May 01 - 04:42 PM
SeanM 27 May 01 - 06:32 PM
GUEST,Marc Bridgham 16 Jul 01 - 07:08 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 16 Jul 01 - 01:52 PM
Charley Noble 16 Jul 01 - 05:52 PM
Dead Horse 01 Dec 01 - 06:17 AM
Joe Offer 11 Mar 03 - 07:18 PM
Charley Noble 23 Nov 09 - 12:58 PM
shipcmo 27 Mar 10 - 07:35 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 12 Sep 17 - 07:37 AM
Steve Gardham 12 Sep 17 - 09:51 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 13 Sep 17 - 08:49 PM
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Subject: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: CRANKY YANKEE
Date: 14 May 01 - 01:01 PM

First off, let me offer some historically factual statements.
In the early 18th century, merchant ships flying the British Flag, which, of course, included the colonies, began hiring sailors from the West Coast of Africa. The reason for this being that they were not Crown Subjects and therefore not elligible for impressment into the Royal Navy.

It was immediately apparent that they were excellent sailors, dependable, resourceful and hard working. So, Thousands and thousands of Africans were eventually signed on to these merchant ships.

fact #2
Africans have a centuries old tradition of coordinating the efforts of more than one person, by singing. In the movie "Mogambo" starring Clark Gable, which was shot on location, there is a scene where several Africans are hauling a Rhinocerous out of a pit while singing a long drag chantey. In "Trader Horn", also shot on location, the Watusi People are portrayed by real Watusi, there are other examples, also they are paddling a boat while singing a chantey. Michael Caine's "Zulu" < also shot on location, the "Zulu" are portrayed by real Zulu. The move troop formations around, issue and acknowledge orders by singing.

In the 19th century, there were so many African Sailors employed on British and American ships that the State of South Carolina perceived them as a threat to "Domestic Tranquility" in the port of Charleston that they enacted the infamous "South Carolina Negro Seamen "act which stated that any Negro crewmen on ships entering Charleston Harbor had to be locked up in the city jail until their ship left port, and the cost of their upkeep was the responsibility of the ship's Captain. If the captain could not pay the required sum of money, his sailors would be sold into slavery to satisfy this debt.
This almost caused another war with the Mother Country when an English ship lost it's entire crew in this manner.

fact #3
Oliver Hazard Perry proved to the world that "Brittania did NOT rule the waves of lake Erie" with a force from my hometown, Newport, Rhode Island, consisting of (most historians agree)50% free African American Sailors.

The above facts are offered to show that there were a LOT of African and Afro American sailors on English speaking merchant ships. Now here comes my theory, The African sailors brought the tradition of singing to coordinate work aboard with them./ This quickly caught on when the other sailors saw how much smoother and easier the work became. Sthe ship owners, found that with this practice they could operate their ships with fewer crewmen and did so, thereby enabling them to cut costs (Crew requirements being the larges operating expense) and undercut the rates of every other country's ships. The result being that we, US and British, eventually had huge fleets of sailing merchant ships, their numbers being way out of proportion to our population.

The "call-response" form of sea chanteys, is exclusively African. There are no examples of this in any other English Language folk music. Irish people are extremely prolific and diverse in their composing folk songs. But, to them the music is an added bit of beauty to a poem. The tune makes the poem easier to recite. It also can add "dramatic " effect to the poetry. Here's one more bit of corellation. In the TV Movie "Mandella" , at the end of the movie, some zulus are singing a song with African words that is identical to "Little Sally Racket" and THE CAPE COD CHANTEY (ALSO KNOWN AS SOUTH AUSTRALIA) IS IDENTICAL IN FORM TO THE BANANA BOAT SONG. "Day Oh, Day oh" is exdactly the same melody as "Heave away me bully bully boys" (or "heave away you ruling king")


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Subject: RE: BS: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: IanC
Date: 14 May 01 - 01:07 PM

Hey, Cranky

Just to wind you up, here's another fact.

Wall, who's excellent book I'vbe got a 1st edition of, claims that the use of the spelling Chanty or Chantey is effete, not being historically accurate.

He is the only person sailing before 1872 (since when he claims there were no decent shanties sung) who appears to have ever published anything about shanties and claims he never ever heard them called, described as or spelt with a "C"

Any feelings?

;-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: BS: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Wolfgang
Date: 14 May 01 - 01:18 PM

Good thread, my only tiny objection: Please don't start a thread about music with BS. On busy days I filter BS threads away and I'd hate to miss such a thread. I hope Joe (clone) will correct that.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: BS: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Micca
Date: 14 May 01 - 01:24 PM

IanC, in support of your statement as I have said before on here, Chantey is a Glaswegian slang word for a pisspot or Gezunder (it Gezunder the bed!)in all other places Ive seen it in use in the British Merchant navy in the 60s it was ALWAYS spelt Shanty...


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Subject: RE: BS: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: CRANKY YANKEE
Date: 14 May 01 - 01:34 PM

Ian C. Frederick Pease Harlowe's book "Chanteying Aboard American Ships" which is an excellent read, also gives some credit to African Chanteymen, stating at one point that the two best chanteymen in his experience were both Black.

I submitted the above when I did because AOL has a nasty habit of kicking me out before I'm finished. I have one more thing to add.

Given what is stated in the first part of this thread, do any of you, upon reflection, think that with all those African Sailors around (Fact) a "British Islander" came up with the idea of using music as a coordinating tool?

None of the "experts" (except harlowe) even considered the notion that African's had at least some part in the early development of real sea chanteys.

SO MUCH FOR EXPERTS who write books. Never completely accept what any "Expert" tells you, (that includes me, not that I'm Expert, only somewhat profficient) THINK FOR YOURSELVES, QUESTION THE "EXPERTS">.

IanC. Harlowe spent most of his life as a sailor on large square rigged merchant ships in the 19th century. The guy who wrote the book you quote must have been somewhat concerned about his own manhood to have written such a piece of claptrap. I quit being concerned about such things somewhere around 1969. Look in the P.M.'s for how come.


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Subject: RE: BS: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Mrrzy
Date: 14 May 01 - 01:59 PM

Interesting, very interesting!


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Subject: RE: BS: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: CRANKY YANKEE
Date: 14 May 01 - 02:07 PM

MICCA: You want to start a Brew-ha-ha about how something is SPELLED?????

stand up straight
look intelligent
and
Don't drag your knuckles

Ian, O.K. I see the smiley face.


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Subject: RE: BS: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Don Firth
Date: 14 May 01 - 02:12 PM

(Actually, that's spelled "brouhaha")

Don Firth (ducking and covering)


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Subject: RE: BS: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Naemanson
Date: 14 May 01 - 02:21 PM

Actually I agree with Cranky Yankee about the probable origin of the shanty being African. I have seen plenty of examples of African laborers working and singing. Be that as it may, it was then taken on board by sailors of many nations and modified to fit the language and customs of those sailors.

One additional source of African sailors was slavery. Sometimes a slave was sold or even rented to a ship captain. For some it became the path to freedom.

Anyway, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the experts were guilty of a little racial prejudice in their research and glossed over the African origin of the custom of using songs with labor.

I think Hugill mentions a work song dating from Elizabethan England. Any more info on that?


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Subject: RE: BS: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: CRANKY YANKEE
Date: 14 May 01 - 02:44 PM

Thanks for your input Naemanson. It's my understanding, though that Chanteys (or shanties) were only used on "English Speaking" vessels and while there are now foreign language translations, they've never been used functionally except on our ships and that is the reason for the huge fleets of merchant ships that were way out of proportion to our population.

As for Mr Hughill's statement about Elizabethan sailors singin a songs about their lives, SO DID EVERYBODY ELSE, IN EVERY LANGUAGE AND ABOUT EVERY OCCUPATION.


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Subject: RE: BS: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Charley Noble
Date: 14 May 01 - 02:46 PM

I'm sure CY is correct in given Aficans credit for playing a major role in the development of shanties, chanties, or whatever they're called, although I'm sure that work chants were also alive and well in England, France, Scandinavia on land and on the sea. I believe Stan Hugil gives Africans in the Caribbean and Southeastern US full credit for many fine shanties ? references to the Mobile Bay shanty factory.

As an aside I remember waking up one morning in rural Ethiopia (the Gurage Agar) to the sound of a "shanty"; the neighbors were transplanting big banana-like plants (Ensete), and heaving 'em up with a modal chant quite like "Blood Red Roses." When I asked my students what the words meant, they were all embarrassed; they claimed "They're not singing the right words; what they're singing is very rude!" Well, I've got it all on tape and some day Roll & Go will sing homage to the great Thunder God "Boja" and whatever he was doing with that lovely young lady...


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Subject: RE: BS: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: lady penelope
Date: 14 May 01 - 03:13 PM

I've got to disagree with the Cranky Yankee, there have been work songs in just about every culture in the world. And as for the Irish only singing as a form of art???? There are plenty of recorded "tweeding" songs from the west coast of scotland that the women sang as they cured the tweed. It took as many women as were available to work the tweed and they had to work in unison, hence the songs. If you look at the Norse, I'm sure you'll be able to find Viking work songs, 'cos that's all a shanty is.

TTFN M'Lady P.


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Subject: RE: BS: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,Albamist
Date: 14 May 01 - 04:20 PM

Lady Penelope, you took the words right out of my mouth (meatloaf I believe) Have you ever noticed the distinct similarity between the gaelic tweeding songs and native American chants? Some of them are almost interchangeable

In a similar vein to Charlie Noble, I once worked in the copper mines in Zambia, the work crew were moving a heavy piece of equipment into place underground and were chanting as they worked. Thinking I was lucky to be hearing some ancient tribal chant I asked the elder mechanic about the meaning of the words. He replied, "Young Frank there(the junior mechanic) has just bought himself a motorcycle and he looks like a pea on top of a mountain, so we are chanting oh he who looks like a pea on a mountain-------Push" Disappointed or what?

Albamist


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Subject: RE: BS: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: radriano
Date: 14 May 01 - 04:41 PM

Good thread and I agree that the BS should be removed from the title.

Although I've been singing shanties and sea music for quite a while now I must admit to a very meager knowledge of their history.

Is the call and response form exclusively African? Or did the industrial revolution erase any form of this type in white cultures? I admit to not being much of a historian either so I may be off the mark. Where did the call and response used in training by the Marines come from originally?


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Subject: RE: BS: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: SeanM
Date: 14 May 01 - 05:03 PM

Hugill mentions two shanties as of probably Elizabethan origin, with one even earlier - "A-Rovin'" being the Elizabethan, and "Haul on the Bowline" being of probable earlier genesis. Admittedly, the reasoning given for the dating is that the bowline ceased being a 'heavy work' line some time in apparently the 14th century, and thus not needing a full shanty for work purposes.

'Shanties of the Seven Seas' covers a lot of this topic, along with Doerflinger's work and a few others... After reading what they've written, as well as other independent sources (encyclopaedias, national histories, etc.), I don't agree that African influences were responsible for the evolution of the sea shanty. They were a definite shaping influence, but not the MAJOR influence.

The closest conglomerate explanation that I'd agree to is that sailors were using 'call outs' or 'sing outs' (rythmic yells and stamping in time to the work) to time the pulling. While African tribes may have been doing this before sailors sailed, it isn't much of a stretch to imagine that sailors could independently develop similar ideas due to the nature of the work (i.e., 'if we don't all pull together, that sheet ain't going nowhere, so everyone pull on my mark and signal that you're doing it by responding with a yell'). From there, it's even less of a stretch to imagine the sailors, once presented with a steady beat, would start using favorite songs from home to time the work with, and then from there start developing songs of their own. Art finds the strangest beds to grow from...

In all this, it's entirely reasonable to assume that EVERY nation that sailors came in contact with would add to the blend. After all, it was a common practice to bolster diminishing crews by taking (hopefully) willing natives to sea as pilots, and some would stay on as full time sailors... Some ships would even man whole crews of 'natives', as noted by Dana in 'Two Years Before the Mast'. There, in California, he records a ship entirely manned by native "Kanakas" (Hawaiians).

Plus, as sailors signed on to different routes, their experiences would go with them... so on an Atlantic trade vessel, you might wind up with a Pacific South Seas sailor sharing the songs and shanties he'd learned on his previous voyages... and vice versa. That's part of what makes tracing where shanty influences definitively came from so difficult.

Anyway, that's my take on it. Do with it as you will...

M


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Subject: RE: BS: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Charley Noble
Date: 14 May 01 - 05:43 PM

Transplanted from the Blood Red Roses thread:

Hugill does mention in his introduction to Songs of the Sea that the earliest reference he could find to shanty singing (a crew pulling on a rope, with a lead singing coordinating them) was in the book of a Dominican friar, one Felix Fabri of Ulm, Germany, "who in 1493 sailed aboard a Venetian galley to Palestine."

Let's all raise a glass to Friar Felix!


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Subject: RE: BS: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,Barry Finn, still out & about
Date: 14 May 01 - 06:21 PM

IMHO, I'd go as far as saying that African culture has had more influence on shanties than any other one culture. They've been lords of the West African coast line since the first European explorers hired them. As far back as can be recalled they've anyways used singing to help with group labor. Other cultures of course used singing for labor but were they also heavily envolved in open sea transportation, not as much as the African. They may not have been the first but when steped onboard & started to go shoulder to shoulder with the rest they made their presence felt & known. To further support CY, I'd say they eventually became cream of the crop, the old men of the sea. Before they were eventually driven from the sea & left with the cook or steward's positions, they were the sailors that had no other empolyment opportunity as did their white counterpart who only needed to make a few passages or one every so often. Unlike a lot of the fellow sailors (whom it seems were becoming younger & had fewer responsibilities) many had families & communities that strongly depended upon them for more than their daily bread. Like the black cowboy, black sailors numbered around 20% or so during their hayday but it's all in who writes the histories. Family's leaving thee Library so I gotta go, great thread CY. If I can get my computer up & running again I stop in. Barry


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Subject: RE: BS: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,Pete M at work
Date: 14 May 01 - 07:39 PM

Just to be pedantic CY, "African" is not synonomous with negro. The evidence both acedemic and empirical would indicate that the seafaring tradition in Africa started and was concentrated around the Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts, not those areas below the Sahara. I agree that the use of "call - response" work songs is widespread in the African continent, but I would argue that this suggests a parallel development to a common situation, rather than radiation from an original source. Similarly the use of shanties or shanty form chants by Polynesians has already been mentioned, so I would very much doubt your hypothesis, even without the evidence of brother Fabri.

Having said that I must agree about the influence of seamen from the West coast of Africa on the development of those shanties still extant.

Following on from Barry's comments about them being 'the cream of the crop' there is a documented incident of a ship hiring crew in Glasgow (in the 1880's I believe) whose master displayed a prominent sign that he was hiring crew but that no Irish or Niggers need apply. Of course members of both these communities came to remonstrate with him and he "allowed" himself to be persuaded to "make an exception" for the best those who showed up. He ended up with one watch of Irish and one of negros between which he encouraged rivalry and achieved one of his fastest and most efficient trips.

Pete M


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Subject: RE: BS: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: toadfrog
Date: 14 May 01 - 08:01 PM

It is awful hard to believe that call and response is "exclusively African," or whatever. I've heard travellers from China remark on call and response work songs from there. We can speculate on where chanteys [effete and otherwise] came from, but shouldn't get too doctrinaire about it. Hugil says, the widespread use of chanteys was from about 1830-1870, and originated on the packets. But for sure, those weren't the first work songs ever sung at sea. I think there is a 14th Century one that goes something like this:

Heisa, Heisa!
Vorsa, vorsa!
wow, wow!
One long pull!
Young blood!
More mud! [or mude]

Anyone familiar with that?


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Subject: RE: BS: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: SeanM
Date: 14 May 01 - 09:44 PM

I've also got to side with the 'melting pot' theory...

Before there was extensive evidence of African sailors, there was evidence of the stamp 'n' go callouts and such (at least according to the historic references I've read). I'm not going to knock the contributions of the MANY African nations to the shanty, but I'd also say that a large majority of the traceable influence comes from the 'golden age', long after the art of shanty singing was already established.

One MAJOR way that has been surmised that this influence hit was from some plantation owners sending excess slaves to sea during the winter 'fallow' seasons. They could sell the slave off, thus saving themselves the expense of maintaining slaves during periods when the large numbers needed to plant and reap were not needed... in the process, these slaves would take with them their work songs, which would then very easily spread if not in exact form at least in spirit amongst the other crew.

It's a hard call. I've read some VERY persuasive essays that say that the African trade routes were the genesis of shanteys. I've also read some VERY persuasive essays that say that the Irish 'coffin' ships (starting with the earliest emigrants) were the genesis, that traditional Norwegian whaling songs were, and that many other nations were. Me? Once again, I think it was the real melting pot in action, melding together every influence that caught a sailor's ear into what could stand as one of the only truly international folk art forms.

Gee, that sounds important.

:^

M


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Subject: RE: BS: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Margo
Date: 15 May 01 - 12:06 AM

There is a very interesting article on this page about music and working. Not too far into the article he mentions the Volga boat song. I haven't had time to read up on it, but I wonder how old it is? Couldn't find lyrics either. That's ok, I don't know Russian... :o) Margo


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,John
Date: 15 May 01 - 01:31 AM

It seems to me that we should pluralise the topic, and talk (if we must) about the origins of shanties. There seem to be at least several, which in more recent times have become intermixed. There is no reason why shanties could not have had several origins - many other human inventions have! (How many races independently developed the bow and arrow, or the wheel?) It would not be surprising that if you were able to travel back in time to the construction of the pyramids you would not hear something clearly recognisable as a shanty. Many things simply don't get recorded by contemporary commentators because they are seen as a commonplace.

Even more important - what is the future of shanties?


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Metchosin
Date: 15 May 01 - 02:54 AM

I am toadfrog.

That Shanty noted is from a mediaeval work called The Complaynt of Scotland which was written about 1450. W. B. Whall, who IanC mentioned above, cites the work in his book Ships, Sea-Songs and Shanties. Also from the Complaynt of Scotland are the following lines, which Whall also notes in his introduction:

"And now ane marynal cryit
And all the laif follouit in that same tune"

Or in plain English
"one mariner sings out and the rest follow in the same tune" the following as they haul anchor:

"Caupon caupona, caupon caupona
Caupon hola, caupon hola
Caupon holt, caupon holt
Sarrabosa, sarrabossa

Than says the narrative, they maid fast the shank of the ankyr."

Whall also notes in his collection, among others from the Complaynt of Scotland, the following Shanty of 550 years ago:

"Yellow hair, hips bare
To him all. Vidde fulles all.
Great and small, one and all,
Heisa, heisa."

Many cultures have used call and response in work songs; it is not the prerogative of just one people. One only has to listen to some of the work songs of the Ruthenians of the Carpathian Mountains and the Ukraine, which the women sang as they laboured in fields, to gain further appreciation of the form. Any repetitive backbreaking work elicits this form of music from the human soul.

A modern case in point was the song a friend made up which mimicked the sound of the machinery and kept him awake and in sync while working on the green chain on the night shift in a plywood mill. Only in this situation the machine called and he answered.

Records indicate that the ancient Greeks understood the advantages of, and practiced, uniform work methods. Their soldiers were instructed as to how their weapons and equipment should be laid out in case of a surprise attack. They also employed work songs to develop a rhythm, in order to achieve a smooth less fatiguing tempo, to improve productivity. It is not too much of a stretch to believe that some ancient bright spark took the inspiration to get his Greek Armies to work in unison from work songs that originated in the field or were sung on ancient Greek Pentekontors and Triremes by the oarsmen or vice versa.

The earliest recorded work songs, are from the Shih Ching or Book of Songs, an anthology of 305 lyrics of various types, in the section called Feng, literally translated as "wind" and sometimes interpreted as "folkways or folksongs", compiled ca. 600 B. C.and which may represent work, dating from the Shang dynasty as early as ca. 1700 B. C. And it would follow, that a thousand years later, workmen, as they laboured on the Great Wall of China were singing these same songs as they toiled.

And who knows what Jesus and his mates sang on the Sea of Galilee, but I wouldn't be surprised if some of it was naughty, so they couldn't put those parts in the Book.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: SeanM
Date: 15 May 01 - 03:33 AM

Well put, Metchosin/toadfrog

As to the future? Well, I can't speak for the FAR future, but I unfortunatley think shanties have had their 'golden age'. They'll still be around whenever the work calls for it, but barring some new developments in technology, I don't think we'll be seeing as much of a need of them as the sail trading fleets had.

However, there IS a fairly brisk trade in commercial sales of shanties as, well, entertainment. I know a couple bands who base a large part of their sets off of them - heck, a group I perform with does as well. Hopefully, enough people will stay interested to keep the old ones alive, and enough others will generate the occasional new one to keep the form alive.

M


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Metchosin
Date: 15 May 01 - 03:38 AM

ribitt


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 15 May 01 - 04:31 AM

I posted this to an earlier thread on shanties which may not do anything other than muddy the waters, but is an interesting theory on the origin of the NAME:
"Can't help with this ,but the thread reminds me that Cliff Hall of the Spinners always claimed shanties were West Indian in origin. His explanation (possibly a wind-up to annoy the shanty purists) was that the WI fishermen had temporary shelters (shanties, as in shanty town) on the beach where they gutted their fish (and no doubt smoked some wacky woodbines) which were on rollers made of tree trunks. When a storm was threatened they hauled them up into the trees for safety from tidal waves etc., singing the type of song we associate with capstan work on ships.[and, of course, the Spinners used to sing "Sally Racket" among other shanties so this thread hasn't crept too far!] "
Hugh Jones, the Spinners chantey expert and now a solo singer, is an occasional visitor to the Mudcat so might have a view on this. Cliff, I gather, is travelling the world in his retirement.
RtS


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 15 May 01 - 05:21 AM

Metchosin said above "Any repetitive backbreaking work elicits this form of music from the human soul"
I totally agree with that. Any rhythmic activity that doesn't demand too much concious thought will allow you to sing, and will encourage the mind to freewheel a bit & often result in a new song of the not too deep & meaningful variety.
The fact that these songs then reinforce the rhythm of the work is damn handy. So I'd go for the idea that work songs & chants will have arisen all over the place and at all times.
That sea shanties in particular were heavily influenced by the African call & response charting sounds very feasible indeed. Stan Hugill mentions that the African sailors were the best 'yippers' & that the Europeans could not quite achieve the same wild yells (which were integral parts of the shanties). Still - its always hard to find out the absolute truths of history (or even the present), su b*ggered if I know....

Kris


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: IanC
Date: 15 May 01 - 06:19 AM

Cranky

I'll admit I wasn't being serious last night, and I appear to have accidentally steered this thread more into the direction of spelling rather than history.

I'd like to get back to a slightly more rigorous examination of the history of Sea Shanties. To my mind, this doesn't involve people fighting with "facts" but rather using a working hypothesis and trying to find counter examples which take the argument further. If we can take your facts as working hypotheses from this point of view, we may make some progress. Is this OK?

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Naemanson
Date: 15 May 01 - 06:26 AM

Anyone who has spent any time at all engaged in strenuous repetitive manual labor knows that it is easier if you get into a steady rhythm. This is the case whether you are alone shoveling sand (or snow) or working with a team. And there is no better way to keep in that rhythm than with music in a slow rhytmic beat.

Therefore it is not a question of who originated the shanties. Anyone who has to work, in the old days before machinery, would have developed a singing work chant. This stands to reason on land or on the water.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: IanC
Date: 15 May 01 - 06:45 AM

Yes, but what I'm interested in is the development of the particular form - i.e. Call and Response work songs as used on board sailing ships.

We can look at the development of this form here, with some very informed people, so perhaps we may be able to address the question of how and when they developed into what they are.

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Charley Noble
Date: 15 May 01 - 08:53 AM

I'm loading my guns with A.L. Lloyd's Folk Song in England which has a great discussion on the origin and development of the "shanties." Then when I'm much wiser, I'll blow everyone away with my insights. ;-)

Haul the sheet back with one hand,
Set yer drink down, if ye can,
And we never sail outta sight of land ?
Tanqueray-martini-o!


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: IanC
Date: 15 May 01 - 09:08 AM

Great!

It's, of course, not the case that there are no call/response songs in any other form of English Language folk music. As with the singing of shanties aboard ship, most work songs mainly died out when repetitive physical work was no longer required. In the farther flung parts of Britain, however, some survived into the 20th Century, and there exist video recordings of (e.g.) people on Harris singing traditional work songs, including call/response forms. Most of these forms were not really appealing to early folk song collectors, even if they saw them, as they were generally more interested in what they considered to be the earliest "pure" ballad forms. This bias in collection can be well illustrated by the fact that (e.g.) choruses/refrains were considered to be a very late addition despite the fact that the first recorded song with music was a chorus song (Sumer is Icumen In, rather badly set out in DT)

Here it is, laid out as it appears in many anthologies (sometimes the 4 half-lines of the "verse" are written separately)

Sumer is icumen in, lhude sing cucu.
Groweth sed and bloweth med, and springth the wode nu.
Sing cucu, nu, sing cuccu, Ne swike thu, niver nu

Awe bleateth after lomb, Lhouth after calve cu;
Bullock sterteth, bucke verteth, Murie sing cucu.
Sing cucu, nu, sing cuccu, Ne swike thu, niver nu

The form of this (ABC DEC) is, in fact, more similar to the (ABCD EBFD) form of many working shanteys than any of the various forms found in Courlander's "Negro Folk Music, USA", 1963 though I am making no claim that it was a work song(!)

Play songs, especially those associated with work, frequently preserve older work songs and there are many of these, some still being used in childrens' playgrounds round my way, which use a call-response format. I can provide more details, given a little time, if this cannot be taken as established.

Perhaps, along with what has already been said about the naturalness of work rhythms, there is no real necessity to take the origin of Sea Shanties out of context with other work songs. If this is so, it seems most likely to me that the form naturally evolved in situations where it was found to be beneficial. However, having said this, I think I'd be inclined to agree that something apparently took the shanty form to its peak in the early C19th, and this may well be as Cranky has said.

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 May 01 - 11:02 AM

Adding my two-pen'urth. I think I read that on Cooks voyages to the south seas it was recored that the islanders used songs to row to. They went into the melting pot as well and we got such good 'uns as 'John Kanaka'. BTW in deference to my Polish origins I think I will use the spelling Zanties ...

I am in full agreement with the African bit as well. Not just black African either. I think the North African / Arabic influence must be taken into account as the Moors and other races of the area were also great sea-farers.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Metchosin
Date: 15 May 01 - 11:12 AM

Well, so far we have the earliest documented records for work done by sailors to call and response aboard British ships, as noted by Whall, from The Complaynt of Scotland in 1450.

Then from the Blood Red Roses thread, Hugill is quoted as saying that the earliest he could find documented were Venetian, heard and noted by a Dominican friar, Felix Fabri of Ulm, Germany, in 1493.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Ma Fazoo
Date: 15 May 01 - 11:32 AM

Ian c, this is meant as a joke, too, so don't take offense either, right? I don't much care wheter it's spelled chantey, shantey, chanty, shanty, chantez, xianti or tondelayo, as long as it works,and it certainly does in my experience. Sailing a 500 ton squarerigger through the Bay of Fundy two days after a hurricane with a green crew of 20 women and men would have been physically impossible without the use of chanties. I thinke we'd be out there yet, if not for them.
History, at least for the last couple of centuries has been largely written by white European of white North American males,
History is about 40% speculation and 60% self-promotion, in my humble but crazed opinion. Question authority, it's good for your noodle.
"Effete" gave me the best laugh I've had in years. If Louie Killen is somehow out of cyril Tawney by way of Roy Acuff, Cranky (Jody to his friends and enemies alike) is out of Popeye by way of Leonardo da Vinci, with Daffy Duck as Godfather.
Overstating his case a little? Remember all thhose Europeen historians and let him chime in a little bit for a less popular notion.
I'm so glad this thread has generated such intelligent and fascinating information. I love this Mudcat place!


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: IanC
Date: 15 May 01 - 12:05 PM

MF

Get me not wrong. I'm loving this. Effete's my word by way of a wind-up. Thought it was good myself.

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: CRANKY YANKEE
Date: 15 May 01 - 12:10 PM

Thank you THANK YOU. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR when I started this thread.

Except for the few crackpots who want to argue about completely inconsequential (so I can't spell, so what) things, I think there's enough good, solid argument here for me to start forming my own conclusions.

Oh yes, somewhere in the "Forum" the comment was made that English sailors did not pronounce T A C K L E, as Tay-kul. All I can say to that is I've shipped with many a lime juice sailor (no ethnic slur here) and they all pronounce the word, "Tay-kul".

Once again, thank you and keep the opposing viewpoints coming.

Jody Gibson


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Naemanson
Date: 15 May 01 - 12:10 PM

"...most work songs mainly died out when repetitive physical work was no longer required."

In an interesting drift, Ian, there is still a lot of repetitive physical work being done, even in our great First World societies but work songs are NOT used.

I believe this is due to a range of reasons. To start with today's First World laborers haven't got either the heart or the lungs to sing. When faced with a dull repetitive job they either attack it full throttle and get it done or they feel so oppressed by the prospect of the job that they cannot sing. And there is the peer pressure of the other workers on the site. And the cigarrettes have stolen enough lung capacity that they need it all for the work. Etc.

They have forgotten the value of the work song. There is also a perception that you have to be able to sing like a paid performer. This is largely due to the electronic media (I firmly believe) and will not change. The work song, with a few exceptions, has been relegated to the role of entertainment.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: IanC
Date: 15 May 01 - 12:41 PM

Well, here's some more thoughts about the timing of the growth of the British merchant fleet. I don't think you can really blame it on the shanties, though.

British sea power was growing during the C16th but started to become particularly important at the end of the C16th after the defeat and destruction of the Spanish Armada. There was a large increase in traffic to the Americas at the end of the C18th. This was because of the Napoleonic war when, for the first time, the French began to compete seriously with Britain for trade with "The Americas" (by then Britain had a virtual monopoly in Europe due - I think - to Spain's involvement in the War of the Austrian Succession). By then, also, the British were heavily involved in the trading of slaves from the West African coast to "The Americas".

It would appear to be the case that, by the end of the Elizabethan era, (about 1600) traditional shanties, such as "A-Rovin", were already in common use - probably in The Netherlands, Flanders and France also.

Cheers!
Ian

PS ... re: the spelling ... it obviously has an important influence on how you understand the etymology of the word and hence what light can be put on the origin of the songs. Whall, in the introduction to his 6th edition (1927) is with Jody (historically rather than etymologically) to some extent in that in that he claims the earliest collections of Shanties were called "Songs from the Shanties" and later "Shanty songs" before being called simply "Shanties".


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: CRANKY YANKEE
Date: 15 May 01 - 01:13 PM

Naemanson:

Thanks, Your posts are clear, well thought out and well informed. Let me assure you though that the "Genuine Sea Chantey" is far from extinct, at least in my little corner. I've related this in another thread, somewhere, but here it goes again.

HMS Rose's first winter was in the old, now unused, ferry terminal in Jamestown Rhode Island. None of the sailing crewmembers were still around, except for Donna, Myself and John Millar (Rose's owner ) John woke me up at 0600 one morning and told me that the ship had to be moved from the slip it was in to the one next to it. A former "Staten Island Ferry boat" was, at that moment steaming up to Jamestown to be converted into a floating MOTEL and restaurant, and it needed the machinery in the slip that was then occupied by "Rosie" The ferry was due to arrive around 1700. He had arranged for "Black Pearl's" crew to assist me, but they had to cancel at the last minute to pick up a new diesel in Providence.
Rose had no auxilliary engines at the time, so, it had to be warped from one ferry slip to another. Furthermor, he had to pick up his father at the T.F.Greene international airport in Warwick. That left me and the capstan. Along about 1500, it was becoming evident that there was no one to help me and I could see the smoke from the ferry's stack coming up Narragansett Bay.,BR. ,BR.i went ashore to the "drug store - soda fountain" where the high school kids had just started assembling. I chose the four biggest boys and told them to follow me. Jumping at the chance to go aboard "Rosie" to help out, they followed me. Once aboard, I explained that we were going to attach a long nylon rope, called a "Warp Line", to the next ferry slip, and, the wind and tide being just right, take in all the present mooring lines. This would then allow the ship to drift out of it's present location into the channel. Then we would use the capstan to pull in to where we wnted to be. They all indicated that they understood But, I neglected to tell them I was going to sing, so we started heaving and I started singing"Heave away Johnny". They began jumping up into the air and yelling "YAAA..HOOO....". Of course when all the slack was out of the warp line, we stopped moving.
I gathered them around me in a column of bunches, and explained that I was singing to keep us all in step, and that unless we were in step, we would sarve to death in he middle of Naragansett bay as there weren't enough of us to do the job without a coordinated effort. They understood this philisophically, but still jumped up and yelled YAA.......HOOOO....

So I started singing , "Come on Over Baby, whole lot o' shakin' goin' on"
Come on over baby, baby you can't go wrong.
I aint fakin' Whole lot o' shakin' goin' on"
Then they chimed in with "Shake Baby Shake, shake baby shake" etc. When the singing got them into step, the ship began to move again and they felt the difference. You could almost see a lightbulb go on over their collective heads.

"Rosie moved into place and "Whole Lot of Shakin' Goin' On'" became a genuine capstan chantey.

ANY DISSENTION?


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Dave (the ancient mariner)
Date: 15 May 01 - 01:43 PM

There she was just a swinging to the beat
Singing doo wadda diddy diddy dum diddy doo
Sitting on the capstan and stamping her feet
Singing doo wadda diddy diddy dum diddy doo
She looked good she looked fine and we nearly broke the line
Yeah Shanties are not dead mates just used differently. Yours, Aye. Dave (a 21st century shantyman) btw if anyone cares to dispute the spelling step up and i'll explain why i'm right and you are wrong *Big F"ing Grin*


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,Melani
Date: 15 May 01 - 02:21 PM

I'm told "Twist and Shout" works well as a chantey, and I've also heard "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" used.

There are still people writing new chanties. I have just heard a tape by David LoVine (thanks, chanteyranger!) that consists entirely of songs and chanties that he wrote about the Lady Washington. The chanties sound traditional but are not, the words pertain to the ship and her crew, and they sound perfectly useful as work songs. Great tape, by the way.

I think traditional chanties sound the way they do because they tended to reflect the popular music of the time. Cranky Yankee's story about the teenagers is the modern-day version of the same thing.

Not to mention that traditional chanties get new verses all the time.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: SeanM
Date: 15 May 01 - 06:00 PM

To get it back to 'call and response'... I'm going out on a limb here, but I seem to recall from my old college theatre classes that traditional Greek plays had the Chorus, with the Choral Leader. While not singing, they were working in a call and response medium, with the leader intoning his lines, and the chorus responding en masse. One instructor I had theorized that this was the start of the traditional chorus in music, and went further (without any backing but theorizing) that this development came out of the first agrarian societies as a way of passing the time.

So there. Shanties might just go back to when the first proto-human stopped in mid-chase and said 'blow this for a lark. I'm gonna plant beans and stop chasing those bloody great beasts with horns and all. Who's with me?'

That could also be why it's so hard to pin down a specific reference from where shanties started - if work songs DID originate before the dawn of history, who's to say WHERE they came from? If you accept point *a*, then point *b* which follows would be that work songs are universal, and that any attempt to track down their genesis will get muddled over the intervening thousands of years...

M


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,Pete M at work
Date: 15 May 01 - 09:49 PM

I know it was probably intended as a wind up Jody, but I'll bite. I'm with IanC about spelling, the etemology of a word can be very important in this kind of discussion. Also, if we are going to 'tackle' this problem I would have thought that the 'correct' pronunciation of words is no more, or less, inconsequential than their spelling.

Meanwhile, back to the plot. I would have to agree with Naemanson about the demise of the shanty as a true work song in 'Western' and Western influenced cultures. Certainly there are instances where these are used successfully in their 'traditional' setting by those of us with a common interest in shanties and ships, but in reality this is no more than an exhibit in a living museum. The true test is whether the form is still used to pace and assist repetitive work by those engaged in it on a day to day basis. My experience is as Naemanson says, is that it is not. I have come across several instances of the form in the Pacific islands in a traditional social setting, but not for working. That is admittedly a small sample on which to base a hypothesis and I may be being unduely pessimistic. What experience have others had?

Pete M


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Charley Noble
Date: 15 May 01 - 10:42 PM

Most of the shanty singers/scholars state that shanties died out in the 1600's and 1700's because the ships were not in a hurry and their crews were large, and that it wasn't till the 1820' and 1830's that shanties began to be revived as shipowners began to try to keep their ships on a schedule and complete aggressively with other shipping lines, designed faster ships, and cut down crew size to save money; this is the shanty theory in response to the pressures of the new industrial market system. I still find it hard to believe that such a useful training tool as shanties weren't used in the 1700's, and that it seems more likely to me that no one thought they were interesting enough to write down.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 15 May 01 - 11:00 PM

as far as work songs go , I believe the earliest song that is known is the shadoof song of the Nile, Shadoof being the basket mechanism used for irrigation. its maybe 3000 bc.

there is an oddball theory, but one that appeals to me, that there are ancient recordings of in existence if only we could play them back, namely in pottery that was thrown on a wheel which in a similar fashion to the gramophone recorded some sounds as it was being made. It has been proposed that the recordings" if any may be read back with a laser device. cheers petr.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Metchosin
Date: 15 May 01 - 11:16 PM

Don't think this was mentioned on this thread before but the word Shanty is derived from the Irish words "sean" and "tigh" meaning "old house".


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 15 May 01 - 11:27 PM

Even though I know as absolute fact that the correct spelling is shanty, I've always gone with the story that it came from the French, "chanter", to sing.

Ian, don't tell 'Spaw what "bucke verteth" means, OK?

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Rebel135
Date: 15 May 01 - 11:50 PM

Im not an expert on music by any means but I have more than a knowledge of history.

Most songs are cultural and when the lights went you there were few things to do other than dance, sing or find a corner with a loved one.

(Studies were done about the effects of rural electrication and the children per capita were haved when people could see each other.

Back the the current question. I have in my posession two records that I would suggest you would hard put to find any where, Oscar Brand? Sea Chanties Vol 1 and 2.

Oscar Brand,if I remember his name correctly, wrote that sea chanties derived from different needs. Some sea shanties told a story.

Like Paul Jones...

That starts out. A Yankee Ship came down the river, blow boys blow. It tells the story of John Paul Jones.

As opposed to some that were considered "short drag songs" which were sung while working and helped establish teamwork.

Pulling up an anchor is hard work on a capsain and so the men would sing and pull in time with the tempo.

I dont know a lot about sea chanties but they served a purpose. I suspect that every seafaring culture there ever was had sea chanties but they were useful.

Wes Prichard


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: SeanM
Date: 16 May 01 - 01:03 AM

Wes,

You're correct in your statements from Brand. If you REALLY want to get into some good stuff, look up Stan Hugill.

As to the modern use?

I can attest that in today's modern US Navy, shanty singing is not only dead, but generally reviled. Along with the general decline of the average enlistee down towards the common denominator has come the bizarre hatred for folk music.

Even in otherwise traditional (and still observed) activities such as the Shellback Ceremony, no music is used.

This MAY be different in smaller ships, but amongst myself and my few friends with service experience, shantying in ANY form pretty much died out after the rash of 'destroyer shanties' in WWII.

M


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Chanteyranger
Date: 16 May 01 - 02:43 AM

A point chantey collectors also make is that black and western European influences criss-crossed over several decades, so that a song that originated in some form by black laborers was picked up by, say, Irish laborers, taken to sea, adapted, and then picked up again by black seafarers and changed again. The process also may have started with songs originated by Irish seafarers/shore laborers, and picked up by blacks, be they African Americans or Caribbean sailors, etc. In other words, the folk process was at work in the "shanty mart" of Mobile that Hugill wrote about. "Hieland Laddie" is a good example. Scottish Highland pipers know it as a very old traditional march, chantey singers know it as a song adapted from the march with a slightly different melody, that dates back to the Dundee whalers, but was picked up, according to Hugill, in the great shanty mart of Mobile and mutated into several North American versions.

Though my reading of the collections and history doesn't point to the call/response form of those songs being totally of African origin, it's clear that the 19th Century form these songs took owes much, maybe more than we realize, to black influences. To add to Ma Fazoo's good point about how history has been written, there certainly has been a bias on the part of historians to pay more attention to cultures that have accumulated a written history, and less on cultures that have relied on transmitting their histories orally, down through generations. The vibrant oral culture of 19th Century African Americans was, for the most part, ignored by professional historians until recent times. Whether knowledge of the history of blacks and work songs aboard ships will be increased due to a wider consciousness on the part of today and tomorrow's historians, or whether those answrs are lost forever, who knows. Historians and folklorists are detectives, and hopefully we'll know more about Jody's theory at some point than we do now.

-chanteyranger


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Naemanson
Date: 16 May 01 - 06:11 AM

Sean, I can reassure you that in one corner of the Modern US Navy there is a little (a very little) shanty singing going on. I have been singing Leave Her, Johnny, (the nice verses) for Navy retirement ceremonies lately.

People seem to be impressed and touched by the song. They don't seem to understand that the sentiment in the song is an urgency to get the hell off the ship but that may be the result of my choice of verses.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: sophocleese
Date: 16 May 01 - 07:48 AM

Two thoughts that crossmy mind reading this fascinating thread. There are very few modern work songs as sung by the workers. People still like to have music to listen to and sometimes work to but they more often put on the radio, tape or CD. Shanties have faded away to dentist chair pap.

The other thoughtis a question for Cranky Yankee mainly, but others who have ideas please feel free to post them. I like the idea that by experiencing rowing a boat or working on a ship you can really apply the shanty to the work and see how they connected. Purely for the purposes of rhythm and pacing are there any dryland activities that you can think of that might help a singer learn the right tempo for a song? As a light example, if I can't row, can I rake leaves?


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Naemanson
Date: 16 May 01 - 07:54 AM

You can use a shanty to ANY repetitive labor. Just remember to depend on your body to set the tempo rather than use the tempo at which you are used hearing the song.

I have used shanties for anything from shoveling snow to mopping the kitchen. I once tried to use one to pull a boat ashore but the owner stopped me because I had latched on to the mooring line instead. I don't think I could have pulled that engine block out of the mud but the owner thought I might.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Charley Noble
Date: 16 May 01 - 08:48 AM

A clear example of how work songs shifted from land to sea has to be "Old Moke" (in the DT), with verses a strange mixture of sea terms and references to railroads, and the chorus strictly railroad and an entirely different tune and rhythm ("Old Virginia Lowlands" if I'm not mistaken). The Boarding Party did a nice rendition of this one, with their usual excellent notes. This shanty was caught obviously in transition.

OLD MOKE PICKIN' ON THE BANJO

He-bang, she-bang, daddy shot a bear
Shot it in the stern, me boys, and never turned a hair
We're all from the railroad, too-rer-loo
Oh, the old moke pickin' on the banjo.

cho: Hooraw! What the hell's the row?
We're all from the railroad, too-rer-loo
We're all from the railroad, too-rer-loo
Oh, the old moke pickin' on the banjo!

The same nomadic pattern is true of many lumberjack songs, which also moved back and forth from sea to land, such as "Jump Her, Juber-Ju" where we find one song describing the demise and embarrassment of a boatman who failed to pilot his skiff successfully during a log run on the rivers, the same chorus used for a net hauling song from the British Isles, and used once again for another song about the most sluggish boat (The Bigalow) on the Great Lakes as it raced (or more correctly "chased") the fleet from Chicago to Cleveland. Just think of how they could have mixed things up if they'd had a chatroom...


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: SeanM
Date: 16 May 01 - 06:41 PM

Glad to hear that SOME sea songs make it in to seafarer's activites still. Sure as heck didn't in the regular navy that I went through unfortunatley.

The 'transition' from sea to land in the shanties is always fun to look at. Quite a bit of Doerflinger's work seems to center on that point. It's a logical progression in a few ways.

Recently I read a book ("Mad Sea"), a semi-autobiography about a young Nordic lad who repeatedly attempted to get to sea (eventually stowing away so they'd HAVE to take him along) and then spent the remainder of the book trying to make it on land. He followed the same path that he notes MANY seamen did, hitting the west coast and heading north into the lumber camps, thus adding to the lumbering shanty tradition that was growing.

Fascinating stuff...

M


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 16 May 01 - 07:08 PM

There's further confusion about this word in the lumbering world. The "shantyman" is not a singer but a lumberjack; he lives in a shanty.

But there was a lot of overlap among the men who made their living as sailors, lumberjacks, and cowboys: Definitely the same class of otherwise unskilled, often rootless, generally penniless bachelor males, who had to make their living by the sweat of their brow and the strength of their bodies. Not only the same class, but in many cases the same drifters here and there. The interpenetration of these songs is nothing to be surprised at.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Charley Noble
Date: 16 May 01 - 07:43 PM

Another good nautical read from a young Canadian woman's point of view has to be a new book by Annette Brock Davis (Jackie) MY YEAR BEFORE THE MAST, another in a series of books describing the experience in the tall ship grain races of the 1930's. Jackie was overheard singing shanties (see, on-thread) to herself on watch and almost died of embarrassment. As one of the first female apprentices on the grain ships, she was lucky that she survived at all. She was definately not there as a passenger, and won a very grudging respect for the skills she learned and practiced, and was gratified to be invited back by the owners to sail next trip as an able-bodied sailor.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 16 May 01 - 08:05 PM

soph, a number of years ago at the San Francisco Folk Music Club's New Year's Camp Harmony I was working in the kitchen (ably presided over by Debby McClatchy), and led shanties to help with the dishwashing. It's not that we all were heaving on a huge pot together, but it just helped lift our spirits and helped the time pass more quickly.

One of my favorite records, a National Geographic collection called "Music of Scotland", probably from the 60s, has a "waulking" song, sung by women who were banging with big pieces of wood on bolts of tweed cloth for what I presume is a good reason. The song is definitely call and response, with the head waulker singing a verse and the rest sliding in with the chorus in an interesting way. You can clearly hear the thumping of all those wooden thingamajigs on the table. I think that's what was being referred to as "tweeding songs" above.

I think CY's point is well taken, that much of the history of folklore, and of shanties in particular, has downplayed or ignored the African influence. Nevertheless, it's clear, and not at all surprising, that many cultures created, shared, and spread this kind of work song.

What a great discussion! People who kvetch about how the BS threads are "ruining" the Mudcat should be gently reminded about gems like this.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Wotcha
Date: 16 May 01 - 11:18 PM

The Armed Forces (even Navy types who can find a place to run) may not call them shanties but they use work songs known as "Jody Calls" which originate from the Duckworth Chant of the 1930s according to our DT scholars. See earlier thread on that subject. The songs till function to take the mind off the monotony and pain of the road march or morning PT session. As a group, the U.S. military is probably the largest organization that uses work songs on a daily basis around the world. It preserves a rare folk tradition without even knowing it (it tarts it up with the likes of the 82 Airborne chorus though). It is not unusual to hear references to Bo Diddley and other greats and most kids have not a clue who they were ...
Cheers,
Brian


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: SeanM
Date: 17 May 01 - 12:57 AM

Unfortunatley, Brian, in my experience with the Navy, we were profoundly discouraged from singing at ANY point in service.

During Boot Camp, our 'leader' of our division struck up a tune while we were marching. He got (I believe) about three words into it before our Company Commander (the Navy equivalent of DI) stopped the march, broke us all down and busted us with pushups for about 45 minutes in the middle of the road. Held up traffic, even. All the while, he kept yelling "So you think you're a bunch of musicians, do you? Let's see your musical asses sing to this!" and other such endearments.

Little episodes like this discouraged the use of work songs. The only 'singing' we were allowed to do was the hideous Sunday Services, where we were all expected to raise our voices high to the travesty of "Proud to be an American". Talk about mental scarring...

At sea, as mentioned above, the general class of people enlisting these days isn't the kind that normally take to folk of any kind. An officer friend of mine once put it kindly with "The enlisted Navy isn't a life for a man who can survive on his own any more. I don't know what you're doing here, because most of the low rate enlisted can barely read, let alone hold a conversation." This is prime Garth Brooks/Snoop Dog territory, folks. Be afraid...

M


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Metchosin
Date: 17 May 01 - 03:06 AM

Cranky Yankee, regarding your initial post, I'm not sure if I misunderstood you, but I have never heard the shanty South Australia performed to the tune of the Bananna Boat Song (Day O). But then again I have only heard it performed by Australians.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: radriano
Date: 17 May 01 - 11:41 AM

For many people, in today's modern culture, music is thought of as something that is purchased and listened to while working rather than something that is an integral part of the work itself. In fact, most sea shanties sung today are not sung while working since the days of real shanty singing are long gone.

I was leading somewhere with this thought but I was interrupted by a customer coming into the office and now I've lost my train of thought.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Charley Noble
Date: 17 May 01 - 08:04 PM

Richard, you wouldn't have to worry about customers if you'd just sing a shanty and persuade them with a belaying pin to do so useful hauling. You do have some ropes hanging around your office, don't you?


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Naemanson
Date: 18 May 01 - 08:35 AM

Wotcha, are you talking of marching songs? I'm not sure that qualifies. From what I have seen of the US Navy there is little in the way of work songs.

Sean, your description of today's military ("This is prime Garth Brooks/Snoop Dog territory, folks. Be afraid..." doesn't completely jibe with my experience. Sure they are into modern music and experiences and they are generally pretty far right of center but they are not ignorant knuckle dragging buffoons either. That is more the Navy of my day.

And some of them are even into folk music!!

But they would never let themselves be caught dead actually singing it. That would be acting too far outside the actions of the common herd. It would be thinking too far outside the box. Because, whatever else they are, they definitely have a strong herd instinct.

I think your informant was giving you some bum information. The Navy is an all volunteer force with a high degree of professionalism. The kids joining up today are no worse than those working to become the leaders of our nation.

I have a friend who works as a part time instructor at UMASS Lowell. He was telling my just this morning about the poor quality of some of the papers he has to grade. If you want to fear anything you should be fearing them too.

(The above was written without animosity.)


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: radriano
Date: 18 May 01 - 10:42 AM

Actually, Charlie, mining songs would be more appropriate as I work for the California Division of Mines and Geology, the state geological survey.

One of our products is a cd of photos of the old gold mines and I've been trying for some time (unsuccessfully so far) to convince my bosses that what the cd needs is a sound track of gold mining songs.

Richard


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 18 May 01 - 11:12 AM

About Shanties/Chanties still being written, check out Dave Stone's "Anti-Chantey". It's on his recording "The Journey.

The Jouney


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Metchosin
Date: 18 May 01 - 01:20 PM

Hmmmm...Cheese is good....Ben Gunn would have approved.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,Melani
Date: 18 May 01 - 01:32 PM

I did a research chantey for my husband the developmental biologist:

Oh, kill the rats and cut'em up,
Away, boys, away!
And then we'll all go out for lunch,
And we'll all go together!

They stopped me at that point.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Charley Noble
Date: 18 May 01 - 01:34 PM

Thanks for the link to David Stone.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: lady penelope
Date: 18 May 01 - 02:12 PM

Thanks Mark I couldn't think of the proper word for me "tweeding" songs at the time.

Although there is still a lot of repetative work about, it is very rarely ( outside of places like the navy ) done in UNISON! People who work in factories are quite often doing different tasks in the same place and the rhythmn of the work won't allow that kind of call response song. Also sometimes people are told to be quiet! I work in a clinical laboratory and sometimes an odd phenomena occurrs. Spontanious Whistling! Usually of slow / laid back tunes such as the gallery theme from Vision on ( somebody from Britain help me out here I can't remember what it's called ) the whistling will go on for about ten minutes and then just die out.

And why is singing along to the radio a reduction? If there is no one alse to lead the singing why not the radio? Isn't it better that people sing along to radio than not sing at all?

TTFN M'Lady P.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,folklorist
Date: 18 May 01 - 04:59 PM

It seems CY's main point was that the call-and-response work song was originally African and came into shantying by way of African sailors. Others point out that there were shanties going back to the 1500s and that waulking songs are call-and-response work songs in the Celtic world, presumably unrelated to African models. I'd add to this that songs associated with threshing sometimes used call-and-response form. In Brittany, the came kind of Kan-Ha-Diskan that is used for plain dancing was also used to tamp down the threshing floor so that it would be hard enough to thresh on. Throughout France, and especially the northwest coastal areas, call-and-response is one of the most common types of singing, both for shanties and for other purposes. From all this, I just don't see any evidence that shanties ORIGINATED with Africans; there seem to have been call-and-response work songs elsewhere, and the shanty seems to have originated before Africans were a major part of the workforce.

CY's use of movies like Mogambo and Zulu as evidence is also a bit dodgy. Calling their tradition "centuries-old" and the song used to haul a rhinoceros out of a pit a "long drag chantey" makes it SEEM like africans invented the long-drag chantey centuries ago. But what we really have is a twentieth century movie of modern Africans using a song structurally similar to a long-drag chantey. It's not a centuries-old document, nor is it clear whether this tradition is connected to the shanty. It could even have been staged by the director.

BUT, I think it's fairly obvious that Africans, West Indians and African-Americans have had a huge impact on shanties, especially the English-language tradition.

Now for my main point: to say that historians and folklorists have ignored this is untrue. Every folklorist I've ever heard talking about shanties presents the evidence that Africans had a major influence, and talks about the theory that the name originated due to moving homes in the West Indies. Roger Abrahams has done some very important work on West Indian shanties (see his book Deep the Water, Shallow the Shore); I was just looking at his fieldtapes the other day, wishing I had a reel-to-reel deck! It's well and good to say that historians have neglected this and de-emphasized that for political reasons, but I don't think that applies to the African influence on shanties. The main problem, I think, is that most of what has been written on Shanties is quite old and the past few generations of scholars haven't written much on the topic. The standard books are still the ones by Hugill, who was neither a folklorist nor a historian, and wrote thirty years ago.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Shields Folk
Date: 18 May 01 - 05:13 PM

Is the chanty/shanty spelling question an Atlantic thing, chanty-west(america), shanty-east(British Isles).


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Metchosin
Date: 18 May 01 - 05:21 PM

A further documentation of the African influence regarding Shanties is noted in the liner notes of an old record I have entitled Whaling and Sailing Songs from the Days of Moby Dick by Paul Clayton (1956). The performance of the songs is a bit weird, but he does seem to have done some research.

Regarding the Shanty Blood Red Roses he notes:

"It is thought that this fine old halyard Shanty is of Scottish origin. It is mentioned by Captain R.C. Adams in his book On Board the Rocket (1879) as being sung by the Negro crew of an American ship in mastheading the maintopsail, but is unquestionably of earlier origin than this mention." Unfortunately he doesn't say where he got the information regarding the Scottish conection.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Metchosin
Date: 18 May 01 - 05:32 PM

I would have thought so Sheils Folk, but Paul Clayton who is American spells it "Shanty".


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: SeanM
Date: 18 May 01 - 06:28 PM

Naemanson...

What I was speaking of about the state of folk in the US Navy was personal experience from the early '90s, along with friends who were either still active until recently or are still reservists.

While I won't debate that there are exceptional individuals enlisting in the military, I will stand by the assertion that the majority average is pretty far down on the overall scale of life. Quite simply, the enlisted forces don't recruit from those that would be considered 'exceptional'. Those 'exceptional' individuals who are considering military service usually end up in the ROTC programs, and normally end up in either Officer Candidate programs or in the higher 'tech skill' jobs.

I can attest personally to the lack of folk music amongst the 'rank and file' on board my ship at the time that I was there. I can attest to specific events - the 'working party' loading supplies on board prior to departing from port in Dubai, who when the Filipino CPO running suggested that we might like singing to make the work go faster was met with repeated yells that 'Hey - we aren't fags!' and similar enlightened suggestions.

Maybe I just was unlucky and got in with a truly sadsack vessel, but I fear that it's a service wide malady. I've often pondered if some of the various excesses that I read of (the manifold rape charges, near international incidents caused by drunken sailors, etc.) might be at least partially curbed if some of the old shanties and other traditions were seriously taught to the new sailors. Give them pride in what they do, and they may think twice about doing something to tarnish the service's reputation...

But this is rather drifty. My apologies... back to the Shanty talk.

M


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 18 May 01 - 07:07 PM

Charley Noble, did you say ROPES??? Ain't no ropes on a ship! (Well, maybe one...)

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,folklorist
Date: 18 May 01 - 11:21 PM

Hey, just to show you there are no new arguments under the sun, here is the very first paragraph of Roger Abrahams's 1974 book Deep the Water, Shallow the Shore:

"There are certain musical types that seem to arise only in areas in which Afro-Americans and Euro-Americans perform together or at least witness each other's performance forms--Jazz, jody calls, cheerleading, to use some American examples. The sea shanty is one of these. In Chanter-response performance type, with a high degree of voice overlap and interlock, these work songs are more in African singing style than European (with the possible exception of Celtic singing in groups). Yet they arose and thrived at a time when Afro- and euro-Americans and Europeans worked together under sail, and it seems clear that it was this combination of ethnic groups pursuing a common purpose that provided the situation under which these songs thrived."

Roger then provides an excellent five-page survey of the scholarship on black contributions to shantying; from Sharp, who was skeptical but admitted that some shanties had black influences, to W.F. Arnold who, in a 1914 book called Songs of Sea Labour proclaimed that the majority of shanties are "Negroid" in origin. The origin issue has long been a vexed question, because the hard data are simply not there to be found.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 18 May 01 - 11:23 PM

Charlie, No problem. Enjoy!


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: SeanM
Date: 18 May 01 - 11:30 PM

Amen...

So, now that we know for certain that we can't know for certain... Back to the fun.

This actually is a bit of a dense question - but do the Library of Congress or Lomax series of recordings have any 'shanty' based collections? I have one that's the 'Anthracite Coal Miners', and I've seen collections of flatboat river songs and the like, but I don't recall seeing one of the truly 'scholarly' series having a shanty disc...

Something like that, while solving nothing, would be a wonderful historic aid for this kind of discussion. One element that is somewhat lacking in all of the above is that while most of us have access to the same 'paper' data, we're all (OK, several of us are) listening to different 'aural' data sources. The singer influences the music in ways well beyond the origin of the song - Paul Clayton, for example, while producing a GREAT recording, makes the shanties all sound about as 'White European' as anything possibly ever could...

It'd be interesting to know if any original recordings from the very tail end of the 'golden age' are around on CD...

M


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Chanteyranger
Date: 19 May 01 - 12:08 AM

Folklorist, have you read Black Culture And Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought From Slavery To Freedom, by Prof. Lawrence W. Levine? Though it doesn't cover chanteys (ah, well), this 1977 groundbreaking book's thesis is that historians, by and large, principally academic historians, have for too long ignored oral folk culture as serious history, and calls for historians to raise their own consciousness through studying the oral traditions of cultures that have been rendered inarticulate by historians in general (and this from a man who was himself a U.C. Berkeley history prof). My point is about the historian's craft. I should have defined "recent times" - which I mean to be the last 30 years or so. Levine's book is quite an eye-opener. Folklorist Richard Dorson said "It is the first historical work written by a professional historian to make exhaustive and sophisticated use of folklore sources..." I don't think the impact of black influences is yet fully realized - and I pose the question whether it's too late for a major historical work on that aspect of it, or will a major historical work emerge and help answer some tricky questions? If only historians of long ago had...ah, but that's hindsight :-).

-chanteyranger


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,Les Jones
Date: 19 May 01 - 03:48 AM

C/shanties are great examples of the oral tradition through which 'folk music'has been transmitted. These songs have clearly travelled and changed much more than most other types of 'folk musisc and are the best evidence for the oral tradition. I wrote, sang and had a lot of fun with a shanty, in the Merseyside area in the 1960's.

It was called 'The Early Morning Shanty' with a chorus line Pull back the sheets - ugh! To my knowledge nobody else ever sang it, or asked for the words. I guess it died a natural death ........ or maybe not?

Which reminds me I find this line running through my head: South Australian Chardonay, Heave away, Haul away

or should it be Shardonay??

Cheers Les Jones Now of Manchester


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Dave (the ancient mariner)
Date: 19 May 01 - 07:48 AM

The Oxford English dictionary states that Shanty probably derives from the French Chantez. The English word To CHANT (measured monotonous song)is of French origin. Since the only written language used in England was Latin, and the only spoken language was bastardised by the introduction of Norman French in 1066; it is entirely likely that the spelling of Shanty/Chanty is French in origin. Having said that Shanty ,is still the official spelling in the English dictionary. In Elizabethan times trumpets, drums and "Chanters" were frequently used aboard ships to entertain, and pass orders. The Bosuns call (pipe) was not only a mark of rank aboard ship, but also used to pass orders to the crew ; the reason that whistling is strictly forbidden aboard ship (Royal Navy); and considered bad luck on Merchant ships. The debate about the origins of Sea Shanties on this thread, has been interesting and informative. The origin of Shanties is clouded in folklore and the oral tradition. No nation or race can be said to be the originator of this type of song. Clearly the Vikings used chants and songs to row their vessels and I'm sure the Portugese, Spanish and Dutch nations had their songs too. Any attempt to attribute the source or main influence to any particular race is futile. I think that the tradition leads one to assume that all music, song, is a uniquely human condition; and the attempt to coordinate hard work by chant and song is one of the common links that we all share alike. Yours, Aye. Dave


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 May 01 - 10:44 AM

Apparently there are some "cylinder recordings" by folk song collector Percy Grainger of shantysingers in varous sailors' rest homes, according to A.L.Lloyd in his FOLK SONG IN ENGLAND; he really has a fascinating analysis of various types of shanties, their functions, and origin.

Sean, I also would be cautious of expecting traditional shanties to install "moral values" in a new crop of amoral apprentice sailors; traditional shanties were seldom "sensitive" about male/female relationships, or other interesting combinations of gender and species. Well, yes, what you are suggesting about reinforcing pride in one's work does ring true, in spite of the "hard case" skipper and the "bruising bucko" mate.

Mark, ropes? Aren't they the things that hold up all those poles? You know, the ones with all those billowing sheets.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,chanteyranger
Date: 19 May 01 - 12:04 PM

Charley Noble, to your knowledge are the Grainger recordings available either commercially or in a library? I'll be going to England in October - would love to find those.

-chanteyranger


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 May 01 - 01:07 PM

Chantyranger, you might inquire at Cecil Sharp House in London; they have a website. I'm just rescimming the relevant book above and could find no further reference, but there seemed to be hope for real recorded shanties. The only field recorded traditional sea songs I've been able to purchase are ones done by Lomax in the Bahamas, recently released as a CD by Smithsonian; these were recorded at various house parties with lots of noise and an occasional clarifying question by an incredibly young and naive sounding Lomax.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Metchosin
Date: 19 May 01 - 01:55 PM

Another place of inquiry might be through Australian archives. The Australians were still doing grain runs and nitrate hauls from Chile around the Horn on square riggers right up into the 1930's.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,folklorist
Date: 19 May 01 - 04:02 PM

chanteyranger,

yes, Levine's book is a mighty work! And I agree with you and him that both black contributions and oral cultures in general have been neglected by historians. The people who have specifically addressed sea shanties have traditionally been pretty sensitive to oral culture, as they would have to be. But you're right that, as a rule, oral culture has been ignored by those who write the books.

keep singing!


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: lady penelope
Date: 19 May 01 - 04:10 PM

South Australian Chardonay? I LIKE it! Please finish it ( bounce up and down squealing Please pleaseplease etc. ) I have a glass of chardonnay in my hand as I type.

TTFN M'Lady P.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: SeanM
Date: 19 May 01 - 05:03 PM

Charley;

Given the prevailing attitudes that I found amongst sailors, I think songs like "Maid o' Amsterdam" would be a marked improvement. At least THOSE sailors actually felt sorry for and/or tried to provide for the future of the women they left pregnant behind them...

M


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,chanteyranger
Date: 19 May 01 - 05:20 PM

Thanks, Charley and Metchosin. I'll make a point to get to the Cecil Sharp house when I'm in London.

Folklorist, let's draft Lawrence Levine into the chantey/shanty scholarship service. We'll promise him unlimited rum and a rat-free, leak-proof ship. :-)

-chanteyranger


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 May 01 - 06:07 PM

Words interest me, so I looked up chantey in an older Oxford English Dictionary and only found shanty, with a date of 1869 and a reference to Chambers Journal. A OED supplement does have chantey, and attributes the first printed usage to Nordhoff, Nine Years a Sailor, 1856. It would be interesting to know when these words were first used in those forms, and why the English dictionaries prefer shanty and the American Webster prefers chantey. It seems to me that 1856-1869 is late for the words to have come into English (all sources attrib. to the French). No importance but good trivia.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 May 01 - 06:51 PM

It may have been noted already but Richard Dana in his Two Years Before The Mast describes his fellow sailors singing sea shanties, some of which survive to this day, in 1836 but only refers to them as sailors' work songs. Apparently, the sailors knew what they were doing but were ignorant of the proper term for their songs. They were flogged but not for that.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Barry Finn
Date: 25 May 01 - 04:03 PM

The West Coast of Africa has been trading with Europeans since at least as 1455 when Portuguese mariner, Alvise daMosto noted down the size & capacity of their huge canoes & Fernandez reports in 1506 canoes that carried 120 men. In the late 17th century the Dutch factor William Bosman writing from Elmina Fortress on the Gold Coast notes how he'd watch 5 to 600 of these canoes set out fishing every morning & how dependent European traders were on Africans & their boats. So we do have it that Africans & Europeans were at least paddling in the canoe since very early on, maybe before the noted Venetian galleys of 1493 as reported by Felix Fabri. The Virginia Gazette in 1774 notes an impertinent runaway Negro woman who was fond of liquor & singing indecent sailor songs. In 1785 a New England merchant notes the cheerful & pleasant sounds of Negro labor while working the falls. The 1st impressment & imprisonment of American sailors was in 1807 2 of the 4 were sailors of color & of the eventual 5000 impressed prisoners in Dartmoor Prison 220 to 25% were Afro Americans & their musical bands were aalways in the forefront. The Black/Indian captain Paul Cuffe writes of the whaling brig, the Traveler with all it's black crew visiting Port-Au-Prince 8 yr after Haitian independence, I believe this to be the same Traveler mentioned in a song written by one of the all black crew members of the whaling schooner, the Industry, with whom they were rendezvousing with in 1822. Robert Hay (Landsman Hay) describes longshoremen using negro worksongs in 1809 & again aboard the Edward in 1811 of blacks working the capstan for loading cargo, giving the words to 2 of the songs. The Quid, in 1832 shows a black fiddler on top of a capstan singing. Olmstead describes in 1841 on a whaling voyage. of a black sea cook leading the rest in worksong.
The 1st third of the 19th century was increasingly good sailors, while the 2nd third saw their prospects receding & by the last 3rd they were becoming a relic. Even though blacks in general stayed at sea far longer than their white counteparts, becoming the Old Salts to the younger 1 or 2 passage making green hands, they were still to almost completely disaappear from the sea (except as cooks & stewards) by the time Captain Whall states no real shanties were made after 1875, leaving only their mark on the songs. Is it all that strange that the music of the Manhaden fisheries died when the black fishermen ceased to fish or the last of the slave labor songs end with the Georgia Sea Island Singers or the last of the shanties could be heard among the West Indian sailors or the prison worksongs died when the blacks stopped needing them & is it any wonder that onf all these trades examples can be found were some of the versions of the cross over into the different trades while in the the white culture group labor singing died out when? Barry


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Wendy_
Date: 25 May 01 - 05:00 PM

It doesn't have any chardonay in it, but could the song Les Jones was thinking of be: South Australia ? I've always found that "heave away, haul away" pretty catchy.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Wendy_
Date: 25 May 01 - 05:13 PM

Lomax's Deep River of Song: Bahamas 1935 -- Chanteys and Anthems from Andros and Cat Island has chanteys sung by sea spongers. (See also amazon.com's listing - they let you listen to more samples from the cd.)


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 25 May 01 - 08:12 PM

Wendy, I think Les had his tongue well into his cheek...as did I, when I came up with the following ditty that I thought was in the DT but isn't. (The tune, if it isn't obvious, is "Roll the Woodpile Down")

The Bowling Shanty
(words by Mark Cohen, with no shame at all)

I've got a cure for grief and pain
Way down the alleyway
I'll go right down to the bowling lane
And we'll roll the old ball down

Bowling, bowling
Bowling the whole year round
That brown gal o' mine rolled a 209
And we'll roll the old ball down


My Aunt Dinah had quite an arm
She'd bowl every day, it'd do her no harm

Each Monday night I'll put on my shoes
I'll grab my ball and my Daily News

I bowl with a man named Curly Brown
He bowls with a ball weighs twenty-five pounds

When Curly lets fly with that ball
He'll knock a hole in the backstop wall

Old Curly'll smash them pins to bits
But he's still left with a 7-10 split

I'm rolling strikes and I'm feeling fine
One more frame and it's Miller Time


(So yes, shanties are still being written!)

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: toadfrog
Date: 26 May 01 - 03:48 PM

Someone pointed out, these verses will work with almost any sea chanty:

I do not like green eggs and ham
I cannot stand them, Sam I Am!

I would not eat them in a boat!
I would not eat them on a goat!

(I can't remember the rest.)


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,Gareth Williams
Date: 26 May 01 - 04:22 PM

Rutters ! - The old menmonic sailing directions may have been mutated into shanties. Try pricking the geographical locations, depths, and sea bottom mentioned in "Spanish Ladies" on a chart of the English Channel and see what you get - a pilots memonic from the Dodman to the North Foreland. Just a thought.

Gareth


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Charley Noble
Date: 27 May 01 - 12:03 PM

About time for a new thread Oregin of Sea Chanteys/Shanties II if anyone can create a link back to this one; I understand Italian mariners prefer "sea Chianti."


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: CRANKY YANKEE
Date: 27 May 01 - 01:10 PM

MARK COHEN: About Rope, IT IS ROPE./ if you want to go back inb history, In all the old "rigging MaNUALS" sTEEL'S,. LEVERS, ETC. It is referred to as rope. I know that the US Navy calls the stuff "Line" the reason they i8nsist on this term is to impress young enlistees in boot camp that they must do things "THE NAVY WAY" unless you know of a better way, but you still do it the navy way until your suggestion goes through poroper channels. From their poiont of view, Line is just as good a name for the stuff as rope. But on a sailing vessel, If you referred to every bit or fiber cordage as "Line" yo0u are asking for misunderstanding that co

uld be disastrous. BECAUSE , MARK, NOT EVERY PIECE OF CORDAGE ON A SAILING SHIP IS A LINE. Halyards are not lines, braces are not lines, lifts are not lines, etc etc./. foot ropes and bolt ropes are not lines either. A line is the shortest distance between two points, and a line on a sailing ship moves something between these two points./ And, in the old rigging manuals, and the Merchant Marine manual (current addition) refer to these lines as ropes, as in, "Bunt line rope", "Sheet line rope", "Clew line rope, leech line rope, etc.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,chanteyranger
Date: 27 May 01 - 01:21 PM

I saw something about that on the TV game shows, "What's My Line" and "The Splice Is Right."


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: CRANKY YANKEE
Date: 27 May 01 - 02:47 PM

charley Noble:

Wordsw and music by Jon Campbell. "Tanqueray Martini Oh is a SPOOF of sea chanteys, and was never intended to be one. Believe me, Jon Campbell knows what a chantey is furthermore, he's a genuine Mariner. Makes his living on the sea. Or, at least he did until he started teaching school a couple of years back. He was a Copmmercial Fisherman most of his adult life.

STANQUERAY MARTINI OH
words and music by jon campbell

I
We were sailing out of stanford town
With a fleet of "Criss-Craft" all around
When from up on deck the call came down
TANQUERAY MARTINI-OH

II
And all the Captains and the crew
Must have the drink you can see right through
There's nothing else will really do
TANQUERAY MARTINI-OH

(Chorus)
So haul the sheets back with one hand
Set your drink down if you canbrAnd never sail out of sight of land
TANQUERAY MARTINI-OH

III
To Greenwich town we did put in
We being nearly out of gin
To travel on would be a sin
TANQUERAY MARTINI-OH
?
IV <>br>The Captain's laid out on the floor
H*e being elected to get some more
He broke his leg tryin' to get ashore
TANQUERAY MARTINI OH
(repeat chorus)

V
The old man stirs with an iron fist
The first mate pours from a gimballed wrist
The whole crew has a 30 degree list.
TANQUERAY MARTINI-OH

VI
It's 9 parts gin and one vermouth
It's the yachstman's friend and that's the truth
From Jamaica Bay to the Bay of Booth
TANQUERAY MARTINI-OH
(repeat chorus)

VII
Oh the Montauk girls they look so fine
Rigged loose up front and snug behind
With a quarter board reading"Calvin Kline"
Tanqueray Martini-Oh.

VIII
All the Captains and the crew
Must have the drink you can see clear through

(Spoken)"Muffie," would you freshen up this drink? this ice is sooooo bad.
TANQUERAY MARTINI-OH



CHANTEYRANGER:

I knew I was going to like you.....


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: CRANKY YANKEE
Date: 27 May 01 - 03:44 PM

There's a world of difference between "Singing in time with the work" and "Working in time with the singing"

A chanteyman directs the tempo and timing of the work and the crew follows his rhythm. That's what his job is, COORDINATING THE EFFORTS OF MORE THAN ONE PERSON. Singing is just his tool.

"He bang she bang"

The "we're all from the railroad" line is because the "Rocking arm" Windlass uses the same mechanism (without the stepped up gear ratio) as a railroad hand car. In other words , 'THEY ARE MAKING FUN OF THEMSELVES"


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Charley Noble
Date: 27 May 01 - 04:42 PM

CY, where did you run across this verse, is it Jon's or someone else's?

The old man stirs with an iron fist
The first mate pours from a gimballed wrist
The whole crew has a 30 degree list.
TANQUERAY MARTINI-OH

Here's one of my new ones:

"All hands on deck!" comes the cry,
As gale force winds shred the sky,
But we stay dry 'cause we're so high
Tanqueray Martini-o!

We missed you at the Portland Chianti Sing.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: SeanM
Date: 27 May 01 - 06:32 PM

CY;

Clarification on the 'rope/line' US Navy issue.

In my experience, 'rope' was specifically used to denote wire-strand cables, and 'line', 'halyard' and the rest were used to denote anything with either natural or synthetic fiber strands.

I rather like GUEST Gareth's point on the mnemonics. Still doesn't explain one of my favorite distance problems... one 'sea song' that refers to someone taking twenty YEARS to figure out how to cross from Dublin to Devon. That's what - 100 miles? If that much? One would think that the sailor in question had other reasons than stated in the song for not going home...

M


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,Marc Bridgham
Date: 16 Jul 01 - 07:08 AM

Actually the origin of shantey singing is much deeper than previously thought. It seems that the term is derived from ANT(so ch/sh, who cares?) and hints at connections to our animal brethren hitherto undreamt.

I offer the following true quote as evidence for my thesis. Bernie Krause is a world-renowned nature audio-recorder. He describes an encounter in the rainforest this way:

"We set up camp for the night, commenting on how amazed we were by life we have found and recorded here. Then just before sundown we recorded ants singing...I dropped a little lapel mike into the hole leading to their nest...At that point I switched on my recorder and discovered, much to my surprise, that they were emitting a plaintive, high pitched sound, a kind of CALL & RESPONSE. They were COORDINATING THEIR MOVEMENT THROUGH SOME KIND OF DIALOGUE, we realized..."

Pretty amazing, eh?


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Jul 01 - 01:52 PM

Where did Bernie Krause publish? I would like to read it.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Charley Noble
Date: 16 Jul 01 - 05:52 PM

Well, that's all cleared up. Anyone want to start a new thread Origin of Sea Chanteys II? This one is taking too long to haul up to the main top.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Dead Horse
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 06:17 AM

O.K. So what's the origin of Sally Racket? I heard it was something to do with the Salvation Army? Apparently known as the "Sally Army" they would play their brass band and sing hynmns at some godforsaken hour on a sunday morning, just as my dad was having a lie-in, and he would complain of the *sally racket*. The difference between Shanty & Chanty is the same as that between World Trade Centre & World Trade Center. Depends on your own native language. We brits don't complain at frenchmen spelling chantey, cos it's their lingo. But I'm afraid we object to you colonials misusing OUR language:-) BUT the way a word is pronounced can be important. It denotes age, geography, local dialect, and also helps the rhyme, dammit. (smiley again) I'm sure Ogg, in his corracle, gave rhythmic grunts as he pulled on his paddle, but no call & response cos his boat wasn't big enough for two. So there.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 07:18 PM

Here's something Cranky Yankee asked me to post. It comes to you straight from Rhode Island (by way of California).
-Joe Offer-
I hereby, and without reservation, renounce any claim to the title, "chanteyman", nor will I, in future, put forth any definition of the word, "chantey", nor will I attempt to spell it correctly.
It seems that people who love music, as I do, and derive great pleasure from its performance have an entirely different concept of what these two terms mean. Some of these fine people have taken umbrage, and rightly so, at the way I've been using these two words.

"ARS GRATIA ARTIS" art for arts sake has nothing to do with what I am about to propose, until later when I again use this phrase.

               THE FOLLOWING
IS AN ETIRELY FICTITIOUS HYPOTHESIS

In the last three centuries, there has been a great demand for "Boxes" throughout the world. The companies that made boxes were known as "Boxing companies" and the people hired to make the boxes were known as "BOXERS".
The way boxes were made (hypothetically) absolutely required a good deal of cooperation between boxers when they assembled boxes. There was a standard operation procedure or "SOP" for these assembly methods. Anyone who's ever been in the military knows what "SOP" means.
The price that a boxing company demanded for its boxes depended entirely upon the number of boxers a company employed.
For one reason or another, American and British boxing companies began hiring boxers from a different part of the world. Let's call this different part of the world, "Gussie" and its people were known as "Gusses"
The gussers had a method doing SOP that was known as co-ordination. Coordination required fewer boxers than the old SOP methods and produced the same quality of boxes. Coordination was immediately accepted by the boxers and boxing companies, who could then employ fewer boxers to do the same job, thereby lowering the price of their boxes. Boxers who were good at coordination were paid extra money to use their expertise when doing SOP. THEY WERE KNOWN AS COORDINATORS.
Did the boxers spend their leisure hours, at the local pubs, coordinating? Don't hold your breath.
However, there is a great deal of good art inherent in coordination, and, the general public got a good deal of pleasure in coordinating and watching the process, aside from it's use in the manufacture of boxes.
The artists who performed coordination were, of course, known as coordinators.
ARS GRATIA ARTIS? You bet your life.
Now, substitute terms as follows:

Shipping companies for boxing companies

Shipping for boxing.

Sailors for boxers.

Singing for coordinating

and above all CHANTEYMAN (shantyman) for coordinator.

There is far greater musical expression and enjoyable singing in the performances of artistic Chanteymen than ever was heard on board a ship. Shipboard chantey singing is dull and boring, seldom involving more than one verse and chorus per job and sometimes involving the same line over and over again.   Except for scholarly endeavor I don't recommend it as a "spectator sport". It's only by coincidence that I am a boxer-coordinator as well as a sailor-chanteyman. My shipboard chanteying is as dull and boring as it could possibly be. But aside from that, my singing in public is as good as anyone else's. Louis Killen is not the world's greatest sailor but he is a tremendous performer of sea chanteys putting a lot of nautical flair into his performance. It was Louis' singing that inspired me to take up sailing to find out what sea chanteys are all about. My conclusion is: on board ship in actual use Pfooey (and that includes me). At a chantey sing or gathering I heartily recommend it.

African sailors deserve the credit for starting this and introducing the tradition on board ships though they are, in no way, solely responsible for its evolution into what we now call "Sea Chanteys".
The Great Huddie Ledbetter's (Leadbelly) recording of "Haul away Joe", though he did it properly for shipboard use, is a good example of how bad a chantey can sound when in actual use.

Nobody seems to want to hear about the multitude of free Africans, mostly sailors, who settled in the Seaport towns of North America by choice. The civil rights activists (of which I am one) with few exceptions, only want to hear about the horrors of slavery. I'm going to try to correct this situation. Don't yell at me, should I succeed, for emphasizing the African contribution for the development of the sea chantey.

Sincerely

Jody Gibson


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 12:58 PM

refresh!


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: shipcmo
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 07:35 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 12 Sep 17 - 07:37 AM

Okay. I've read all the shanty threads and it is my considered opinion you lot have no more clue about the history of nautical work songs than the history of the modern calypso.

Your first hint should have been the first and last lines in Moby Dick.

Had you been born Catholic sailors you would still be singing the κελεύειυ, celeusma, celeuma, saloma ad nauseum just like you had been doing for the previous twenty five (25) centuries or one hundred (100) generations... give or take.

But you are not Catholic sailors. You sing White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant (WASP) nautical work songs, whether indigenous, adopted or appropriated; and you started labeling your music "shanties" c.1850AD.

But that's all it is, your popular culture's name, your tag, your label to match your consumer & supplier. Any claims to naval science or architecture are false and should be rebuked as same. Art is not science.

And while we're about it, sea shanties are no more informed by chattel slave culture than any other Euro-American popular form; nor any less for that matter. Twenty five (25) centuries is also one hundred (100) generations of slavery? give or take.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Sep 17 - 09:51 AM

>>>>Any claims to naval science or architecture are false<<<<

Okay, matey, we're only interested in how it might have started using the English language and how it might have evolved. Nobody's claiming to have all the answers. We're looking for contemporary references to enhance our knowledge and we're grateful for your contribution, but no need to be so disparaging.


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Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 13 Sep 17 - 08:49 PM

Steve: ...we're only interested in how it might have started using the English language and how it might have evolved.

By studying African-American slave culture and West African religion? Why? Neither you nor English are West African.

Assume Melville read the Prophet Jeremiah and the works of Jean Calvin. Capt. Forrest certainly knew his Martial.

Your religious, maritime and classical arts literature all use one and the same word to describe it for the last 2500 years. Phoenician-Greco-Roman-Judeo-Christian nautical work songs were being chanted in African ears, and by African voices, two millennia before the Middle Passage.


And Shanties?

You know what the most popular Protestant music form was for most of the 19th century.

You know the day, month and year the so-called "bulgines" were patented and the years the songbooks were published. In some cases you know individual artist and performance dates. Documented with a high degree of assurance, validated.

Those English lyrics were written by White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, male "Ethiopians" not "African-Americans" or "Caribbeans."

An exceptional or unique way to address static and dynamic friction on a hoist? Need your data not Yoruba.


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