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What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?

stormalong 01 Sep 06 - 09:48 AM
John MacKenzie 01 Sep 06 - 09:52 AM
John MacKenzie 01 Sep 06 - 09:54 AM
Jeri 01 Sep 06 - 09:59 AM
John MacKenzie 01 Sep 06 - 10:04 AM
Jeri 01 Sep 06 - 10:14 AM
sciencegeek 01 Sep 06 - 10:22 AM
greg stephens 01 Sep 06 - 11:14 AM
Greg B 01 Sep 06 - 11:26 AM
curmudgeon 01 Sep 06 - 11:37 AM
Nick 01 Sep 06 - 12:30 PM
Bert 01 Sep 06 - 01:01 PM
Lighter 01 Sep 06 - 02:03 PM
GUEST,Rev 01 Sep 06 - 02:29 PM
Kaleea 01 Sep 06 - 06:46 PM
Dead Horse 02 Sep 06 - 07:01 AM
stormalong 08 Sep 06 - 02:21 AM
sciencegeek 08 Sep 06 - 05:47 AM
Greg B 08 Sep 06 - 12:12 PM
GUEST,Rev 08 Sep 06 - 01:16 PM
Dead Horse 08 Sep 06 - 02:15 PM
Charley Noble 08 Sep 06 - 10:15 PM
GUEST,WhitbyMick 22 Sep 06 - 09:04 AM
JohnInKansas 22 Sep 06 - 08:59 PM
The Fooles Troupe 22 Sep 06 - 09:04 PM
Barry Finn 23 Sep 06 - 12:40 AM
Bernard 23 Sep 06 - 11:14 AM
Bernard 23 Sep 06 - 11:19 AM
Greg B 23 Sep 06 - 05:49 PM
JohnInKansas 23 Sep 06 - 06:25 PM
Bernard 24 Sep 06 - 06:24 AM
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Subject: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: stormalong
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 09:48 AM

Hugill talks about hitches and, I think, yelps, but what exactly is a 'hitch'? Other references seem to equate these terms.

I presume it is some sort of decoration, wavering, 'swallowing' or lesser yelp, but I'd be interested to know for sure. It's not a term I've encountered elsewhere before.

Stormalong


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 09:52 AM

It's a knot mate, as in a rolling hitch or a Clove Hitch
Giok


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 09:54 AM

Get knotted
G


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: Jeri
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 09:59 AM

I'm guessing. I think it's something done in the throat, sort of like a mini-bleat. (Like making machine gun noises.) It's easier to do this at loud volume than more gentle forms of ornamentation.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 10:04 AM

Elmer P Bleaty rides again?


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: Jeri
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 10:14 AM

Hugill, in Shanties from the Seven Seas: "The shantyman would, after several 'dry pulls' to stretch the flapping sail, burst forth into a 'hitch', a breaking yelp in his voice, and then roar forth the solo line..."

So it's the break (or bleat component) followed by a yelp.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: sciencegeek
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 10:22 AM

well, having heard Stan do them on more than one occcasion at Mystic seaport, I'll give it a try. Though Charley Noble will probably chime in later & do a better job of it. lol

It's really just extra notes thrown in to embelish the line being sung... often when starting out a verse. The yelp was usually heard at the end of the song to finish it up when the job was completed.

I figured it was a way of making sure that everyone's attention was turned to the shantyman and ready to start off the job in unison. Which goes to the point of shanties being work songs.

Stan's hitches tended to sound a bit like loud warbles - and Bert Lloyd's singing of shanties often included additional "grace" notes thrown in.

There are recordings done by Stan and I really recommend that you get your hands on one to listen. The printed word doesn't do justice. One picture -or in this case "listening" - is definitely worth a thousand words.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: greg stephens
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 11:14 AM

Get a shanty man and a piece of rope. Construct a clove hitch by laying two loops on top of each other. Take the trousers and undergarments(if any) of the shantyman(the blue sweater can be left in place). Place the loops round the genitals of the singer and pull the ends sharply. This tightens the clove-hitch, and produces the distinctive sound that Hugill called a "hitch".


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: Greg B
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 11:26 AM

How about the word 'Oh' streched out for a few seconds
with a bit of warbling and bad yodeling thrown in? That's
really what it sounds like.

Ohhhhhhhhhhohooooooooohoooooooooooooohhhhhhhh...
Jeezus Christ Almighty
RANZO BOYS RANZO
It's poor old Reuben Ranzo
RANZO ME BOYS RANZO...

There is also a yelping 'hitch' that shows up
on the 'work' beat of some shanties...

'She was just a village maiden with a read and rosy cheek
To me way hey hee hi hoeeeeeeeeeeeYUP!

To me this is the same kind of thing that occurs with
the hammer-blows on chain-gang songs


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: curmudgeon
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 11:37 AM

Writing in "Folksong In England," Lloyd explains "hitch" as used in "...the grand 'General Taylor' that Sharp recorded from that outstanding shantyman, John Short. Mr. Short's performance displays the rather elaborate melisma (seamen called them 'hitches') that some singers liked to use..."

I don't know if the Sharp/ Short recordings are available, but Lloyd presnts an outstanding example in his rendition of this same song -- Tom


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: Nick
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 12:30 PM

Is it where you forget the words?

Or perhaps someone sings your song before you?


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: Bert
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 01:01 PM

A special type of knot which holds because the rope presses against itself.

The simplest of which is The Blackwall hitch


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 02:03 PM

Sciencegeek is right, you have to hear the hitches to get a clear idea. The melismata that Lloyd referred to are often indicated in Sharp's transcriptions, but these are not what Hugill usually called "hitches." "Yodeling" may be the best word for one kind of hitch, usually at the beginning of a solo (as in GregB's example), but the "yodel" is usually just a grace note or two, not tuneful like actual yodeling. The other kind of hitch is a falsetto upturn at the end of a word, usually at the end of a solo line.

I think that singers trying to imitate Stan sometimes use more hitches than he ever did, but it was undoubtedly an individual shantyman's preference as to when and where. Stan wrote that the hitches usually appeared in the solos only.

Without using the word "hitches," a writer in the American magazine Harper's Monthly unmistakably mentioned them as a shanty characteristic as far back as the 1880s.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: GUEST,Rev
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 02:29 PM

It's a break in the voice, like a yodel. I speculate that it was a vocal feature that was introduced into the chantey tradition by Kanaka (Hawaiian) chanteymen.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: Kaleea
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 06:46 PM

So, Walter Brenan talked & sang like he walked?


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: Dead Horse
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 07:01 AM

Imagine if you will, The Welsh National Coal Board Choir.
They are all dressed in their finest suits and wearing Dickie Bows.
The conductor taps his baton on the music stand and calls the choir to order.
They just begin the very first notes of the ancient seamans hymn "What shall we do with a drunken sailor", when, all of a sudden, and quite unexpected, the floor of the stage drops to one side and the entire audience throw buckets of freezing cold water at them.
Now that, dear friends, is a "hitch" !
Slightly difficult to reproduce in your average folk club, eh ?


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: stormalong
Date: 08 Sep 06 - 02:21 AM

I must have too many CDs since I'd forgotten I have Stan Hugill's 'Aboard the Cutty Sark' CD in which he talks about and illustrates 'hitches'.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: sciencegeek
Date: 08 Sep 06 - 05:47 AM

There's no such thing as too many cds.... just not enough "memory" left in the old "wetware".... oldtimers strikes again, eh....?

Happens to me more times than I care to ( or can?) remember.... :)

Just don't strain anything trying to emulate Stan... and good luck.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: Greg B
Date: 08 Sep 06 - 12:12 PM

> I speculate that it was a vocal feature that was introduced into the
> chantey tradition by Kanaka (Hawaiian) chanteymen.

In fact I attended a lecture by one Dr. John Kanaka IV NaKa,TLA,PhD
where he claimed that his great-grandfather invented it. At least
that's what he thought he heard the old man say once.

Some mistakently thought that his grandfather possessed a TRA
degree, but that was debunked by Stan Hugill who stated that
the University of Hawaii never awarded a TRA but only a TLA.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: GUEST,Rev
Date: 08 Sep 06 - 01:16 PM

That's right because, as Stan put it, "There is no R in the Polynesian language!"


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: Dead Horse
Date: 08 Sep 06 - 02:15 PM

Lolling home to old Maui, huh?
I guess thats why they play Baseball in Hawaii, instead of Lugby!


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 08 Sep 06 - 10:15 PM

ROR!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: GUEST,WhitbyMick
Date: 22 Sep 06 - 09:04 AM

With reference to the 'knot'explanantion given earlier in this long list. A friend of mine was in the sea cadets and the knot instructor told him "There is no such thing as a knot in seamanship. They are all referred to as bends or hitches. I'll now show you how to tie a reef knot.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 22 Sep 06 - 08:59 PM

With respect to "knots," the simple explanation I've been given, possibly only partially accurate, is that a "hitch" usually attaches a line to something (other than to another rope), while a "bend" generally joins two lines together.

As with "knot," the term "rope" is virtually unused in nautical contexts, but may be tolerated ashore to spare embarassment to landlubbers.

One fairly salty merchanter of my acquaintance some years ago did insist that a "knot" is the correct term for the tangle used to "end off" a line, especially when deliberately tied so as to produce a large "end knob," as to prevent the line from trailing through a hole or sheave; but even in this context one should distinguish back-splicing and binding as something different.

No comment on the "musical hitch" that's the real subject here, as my mother never let me listen to sailors when I was of trainable age.

John


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 22 Sep 06 - 09:04 PM

"University of Hawaii never awarded a TRA but only a TLA."

I was all ready for a Tra Laa joke...


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 23 Sep 06 - 12:40 AM

The above would be a stopper knot.

Barry


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: Bernard
Date: 23 Sep 06 - 11:14 AM

Perraps it's what you get if someone ties a knot in your neck whilst you're singing? Or maybe what they get if they try it...!


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: Bernard
Date: 23 Sep 06 - 11:19 AM

Seriously, though, nautical speed is measured in knots - orginally 'calculated' by the number of knots in a length of rope which were clear of the water...

Thread creep...!


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: Greg B
Date: 23 Sep 06 - 05:49 PM

And a nautical mile (a mile measured in knots) is just a
bit bigger than a statute mile. This is because sailors
tend to exaggerate everything.

I still have a copy of a 1974 SAIL magazine in which there
is an article on 'underground knots.' In it, they include
the 'halyard happenstance hitch' (used to elevate the coils
from the deck to the masthead, often so magnificently that
in racing yachts a crew member must immediately go aloft to
admire it). They also include the 'mainsheet sneak knot'
which forms at the end of the boom and stops the mainsheet
from running free in a gust...most often seen in dinghies
and guaranteed to clear itself the moment the crew hikes
out to windward. And of course, the ankle bend, which forms
mysteriously around any body part placed near the bight of a
line, and can often be used as a quick way of getting around
on deck...


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 23 Sep 06 - 06:25 PM

The nautical mile, in theory, was intended to represent the distance subtended by an angle of one arc minute on a great circle on the earth's surface. The practical application was that when the North/South elevation of a fixed star changed by one degree one had changed latitude by 60 nautical miles. Although not particularly accurate by modern standards, it's still about as useful as the original definition of the meter based on 10,000 kilometers being one quarter of the circumference of the equator.

A major problem with both definitions is that the earth is actually rather lumpy, and wiggles around a bit, so that any standard based on earth dimensions is at best an average.

John


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Subject: RE: What exactly is a 'hitch' in a shanty?
From: Bernard
Date: 24 Sep 06 - 06:24 AM

People often use that description of me...! ;o)


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