To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
30 messages

Musical question (chantey types)

09 Oct 02 - 03:14 PM (#799701)
Subject: Musical question
From: Irish sergeant

O.K., I should probably know this but I don't.
Besides the obvious work differences what is the musical difference between capstain, short drag , long drag chanteys etc. Are there differences in the beat? I perform a few sea chanteys at Civil War events, and I want to make sure I'm doing them as close to original as can be (Notably Santy Anno which is a capstain chantey)Thanks in advance, Neil

09 Oct 02 - 05:01 PM (#799789)
Subject: RE: Musical question
From: Sorcha

(oh no!! a music question!!)

09 Oct 02 - 05:13 PM (#799797)
Subject: RE: Musical question
From: GUEST,Ed

From this page (PDF file)

Short Drag Chantey: Short drag or short haul shanties were for tasks requiring quick pulls over a relatively short time, such as shortening or unfurling sails.

Long Drag Chantey: Long drag or halyard shanties were for heavier work requiring more setup time between pulls. For example, to get a heavy sail up to the mast, a shanty that gave the men a rest in between the hauls was what was required. The same shanty could also be used to lower the sails. This type of shanty usually has a chorus at the end of each line. These songs were used for long, heavy periods of labor.

09 Oct 02 - 05:17 PM (#799801)
Subject: RE: Musical question
From: GUEST,Ed

Damn, I should have read your post more slowly. I've just told you about the 'obvious' work differences that you already know about. Sorry

09 Oct 02 - 05:31 PM (#799810)
Subject: RE: Musical question
From: Les from Hull

I imagime that the capstan and pump shanties want to be very rythymical (and not too fast).

The timing of the long and short haul shanties can be a bit more varied, as if the shantyman is waiting to see that the haul is ready.

I'm pleased that you are making as much effort as you can to get things right, Neil. Not many people bother. Hopefully someone with practical experience (Cranky Yankee?) will be here with some advice as to beats per minute. My own opinion is that shanties sung as songs are sung too fast, usually.

09 Oct 02 - 05:59 PM (#799829)
Subject: RE: Musical question
From: McGrath of Harlow

I've told this before, but it fits in here. Many years ago when Stan Hugill was recording what became Shanties of the Seven Seas, in Cecil Sharp House, he needed a chorus, and I got drafted in, because I was a regular at a neighbouring folk club.

Anyway, he wanted us to be authentic and it was a stereo recording (which was a bit of a novelty), so for the capstan shanties he had us walk round in a circle, as if we were pushing the capstan round; and for the anchor hauling we were lined up along with a (electric) cable and so forth.

The point is, the rhythm of a shanty comes from the work being done. And many of the shanties would have been used for different type of work at different times, and the rhythm would have varied accordingly.

And yet again there are some shanties that would also have been sung away from work, as forebitters, or in the pub ashore. I imagine when they sang them there they'd probably have sung them a bit differently from when they were working, and very likely faster, so perhaps singing them faster in a folk setting isn't as untraditional as all that.

09 Oct 02 - 06:05 PM (#799832)
Subject: RE: Musical question
From: greg stephens

If youre singing them when working, you'll soon find out what works. If youre singing them for fun, sing them at whatever speed gives you most fun.

09 Oct 02 - 06:25 PM (#799846)
Subject: RE: Musical question
From: Dead Horse

It can also depend on what you've got in the way of crew.
If you've been saddled with a bunch of old decrepid layabouts, like McGrath, then the pace would be a bit pedestrian.
Whereas with a crew composed of young blades such as myself, a good fast beat would be possible.
Seriously (and I can be serious on occasion) there are so many variables to take into account that don't count ashore, if you see what I mean? Just sing to the speed of your chorus singers, and if they be *lubbers all* give 'em a nudge in the right direction.
It's you as is the shantyman, so you are boss. As for the work done to a particular shanty, forget it. What was sung for capstans aboard one ship, was sung at halyards on another, so don't put your faith in what some have written as gospel. Hugill does say that ****** was sung as a short-drag shanty, but he also says that he has heard it sung at other tasks, AND he never claimed anything he said as gospel.

09 Oct 02 - 06:36 PM (#799853)
Subject: RE: Musical question
From: Mary in Kentucky

At the Contemplator site here there are some interesting facts about shanties. ie a capstan shanty used a steady rhythm and was long...a halyard shanty allowed the sailors to rest during the verse (or was it the chorus?). Also, the sailors could complain and say things in song that they couldn't say outright.

10 Oct 02 - 09:38 AM (#800292)
Subject: RE: Musical question
From: Skipper Jack

To entertain 'landlubbers' at a Maritime event, club or concert, whatever, you would need to sing the shanties with a steady beat throughout and probably give a fair musical rendition to boot. Whereas in reality this was not the case on board the old sailing ships. I would venture to say that if you did decide to present the shanty precisely the way it was sung on board, it would turn out to be a very long and boring night!!

10 Oct 02 - 10:32 AM (#800333)
Subject: RE: Musical question
From: Dave Bryant

Dead Horse - You, a young blade ? LOL - you didn't look like one at Tenterden last weekend ! - Anyway you'd be up on the poop-deck looking for Moby Dick (They can cure it with antibiotics now).

Seriously though, the time (and hence number of verses needed) would also have been dependant on:
How many men were available - if the capt/mate had left it to change of watch - there could be twice the number available.
How wet, ie heavy, the sails were.
And of course the weather - if the decks were a-wash and the ship was rolling and pitching then it could be very hard, slow, and dangerous.

Pump shanties might need to go on for whole watches - or if the ship leaked badly, all voyage. Topical verses would be made up at the time.

10 Oct 02 - 11:14 AM (#800361)
Subject: RE: Musical question
From: Dead Horse

And a capstan shanty could be quite short, if it were used to lift an anchor *straight up & down* on a shallow anchorage in a calm sea, or if used to warp the vessel along a short quay. Halyards could be long and drawn out, or short and sharp - depending again on conditions and usage. Aint no definatives to shantying, & certainly not aboard a club night.

10 Oct 02 - 03:33 PM (#800554)
Subject: RE: Musical question
From: Irish sergeant

Thank You all! I generally sing Santy Anno at Civil War events and If I am playing guitar, I pace it somewhat quicker than if I am singing without accompaniment. I also sing Haul Away Joe. As I stated earlier, I wanted to make sure I'm doing it right. I guess I joined the Navy at the wrong time. They don't sing chanteys on aircraft carriers (Least they didn't when I was in.) Again, thank you all. Kindest regards, fair winds and following seas, Neil

10 Oct 02 - 03:39 PM (#800559)
Subject: RE: Musical question
From: McGrath of Harlow

They never sang shanties in the Royal Navy anyway - I don't know if that rule applied in the US Navy too.

10 Oct 02 - 04:03 PM (#800576)
Subject: RE: Musical question

But there were Royal Navy shanties. Spanish Ladies, for example

10 Oct 02 - 05:40 PM (#800632)
Subject: RE: Musical question
From: Les from Hull

Spanish Ladies was sung in the Royal Navy, but not as a shanty, just for recreation. You don't really need shanties in the Navy 'cos you've normally got plenty of people (about 600 on a 74 gun line of battle ship. The recreation was important to keep the crew happy(ish?) and all the polishing and cleaning was important to keep everyone busy.

10 Oct 02 - 08:36 PM (#800746)
Subject: RE: Musical question
From: Leadfingers

At Chippenham festival a year or so ago they got a crew of(Ithink)Sea Scouts to do the hauling etc while a shanty man sang the songs to keep them in time.I gather it worked very well.
The Royal Navy( or for our American friends the REAL Navy) used a fiddler,not a shanty man to keep the crew in time.

11 Oct 02 - 09:30 AM (#801001)
Subject: RE: Musical question (chantey types)
From: The Admiral

If you're refering to myself and two shanty crews when you talk of Boy Scouts, Leadfingers then you and I have got some talking to do! Seriously tho', Bob Berry at Chippenham FF, had the idea about 5 years ago and set up two shanty crews ('names escape me at the moment) with me in my reefer jacket and peaked cap (genuine) fronting it, up with some 'hauling gear', a foremast, windlass and pump and everybody learned a bit more about working with shanties (and I don't just mean the audience!). Good fun!

11 Oct 02 - 10:21 AM (#801063)
Subject: RE: Musical question (chantey types)
From: EBarnacle1

As was said another threads and here, a chantey could be used for several purposes. A prime example is "John Kanaka," which could be used for pumping, rowing, short or long haul, depending on the need and metre. The only way I have never heard work done to it is the way it is commonly performed: With the second appearance of the word "Tuliyay" extended for as long as the leader can hold the final note. The extension was introduced by the X Seaman's Institute and was widely adopted. They also changed the word from Stan's presentation to "Turiyay," a change which all right-thinking performers reject.

A lot of songs went to sea, including many ballads and other "homely" (in the original sense) songs. Most never made it into the work genre and were, instead, used for amusement during the off watches.

11 Oct 02 - 12:30 PM (#801168)
Subject: RE: Musical question (chantey types)
From: GUEST,Chanteyranger

The main musical difference between a short drag and long haul chantey is that the choruses to a short drag are single (since there is one haul per verse) and a long haul has two choruses per verse. For example, Sally Racket, a short haul chantey, has the one chorus "Haul 'er Away!" after each verse, representing the one pull on the line done between verses. The verses themselves are very short one-liners - "Oh, Little Sally Racket (Haul er Away!)," etc. A long haul chantey, such as the afortementioned John Kanaka, has two pulls on the line, on the words "John" and "Tu."

Capstan chanteys tend to (but not all) have a "grand chorus" which is much longer than hauling chantey choruses. For example, after a couple of short call and response verses/choruses, Hieland Laddie's grand chorus is "Way, hey, and away we go, bonny laddie, hieland laddie. Way, hey and away we go, my bonnie hieland laddie."

As you know, many chanteys were interchangeable as long as they fit the job at hand, but that's what musically separated many.

Hope that helps, and feel free to PM me if you'd like to go into it more.



11 Oct 02 - 03:31 PM (#801304)
Subject: RE: Musical question (chantey types)
From: Irish sergeant

Again Thanks to all. I can't answer if the U.S Navy used chanteys for other than recreation/ By the way thanks for the offer, Chanteyranger. I'll keep it in mind especially if I delve further Kindest regards, Neil

11 Oct 02 - 10:37 PM (#801532)
Subject: RE: Musical question (chantey types)
From: Chip2447

If memory serves me correctly (don't count on it) the U.S. Navy used a chanty on one of the Aircraft carriers (maybe not a carrier) in WWII. Something about a tow line parting and/or a capstain malfunctioning (or both). The ship was dead in the water and a navy Chaplain started a chanty (evidently a long haul) to get the tow line from the towing vessel to the distraught one.
    I wish I could remember more details cause it was a really cool story. I heard it on NPR years ago.
    The essence of the story was that the chanty got the men coordinated and what should have been nearly impoosible to do was accomplished. Maube, I can find more details on the event...

12 Oct 02 - 02:57 AM (#801587)
Subject: RE: Musical question (chantey types)
From: Gurney

McGrath of Harlow said it all, you have to work at it to really get the rhythm.
I always understood 'Drunken Sailor' was THE pusser's shanty. No evidence, though.
Used to introduce some as "a slow shanty for knackered sailors."

12 Oct 02 - 11:05 AM (#801732)
Subject: RE: Musical question (chantey types)
From: Dead Horse

When I do a pumping shanty, I sometimes point out that the pumps were vital on the old wooden walled ships, in order to keep 'em afloat. But on modern all-welded vessels those pumps are even more necessary, as a good pull on the pumps is the only way to get the beer up from the hold to the crews quarters! The speed of this type of shanty depends entirely on how thirsty you are.

12 Oct 02 - 11:46 AM (#801747)
Subject: RE: Musical question (chantey types)
From: GUEST,Chanteyranger

DH -

Now, that's MY kind of shanty.

18 Oct 02 - 03:35 PM (#806301)
Subject: RE: Musical question (chantey types)
From: Irish sergeant

I'd sign on for That long haul! :~) Kindest regards, Neil

18 Oct 02 - 03:43 PM (#806305)
Subject: RE: Musical question (chantey types)
From: Dead Horse

A new take on "A pound and a pint"?

18 Oct 02 - 06:47 PM (#806433)
Subject: RE: Musical question (chantey types)
From: radriano

Perhaps this will help. Some of the following is re-phrased from Hugill's "Shanties from the Seven Seas":

A shanty was, in general, of two forms - one with two single solo lines and two alternating refrains, and one with a four-line verse and a four-or more line chorus. Of course exceptions are to be found to these two general descriptions.

The first of these two main types was that used for hauling, the second for heaving, although many heaving songs also had a four-line pattern (i.e. Sally Brown).

These two main types can be sub-divided into the following:

I. Hauling Songs (intermittent operations involving sails and utilizing pulling):
Halyard or 'long drag' songs (for tops'ls and t'gallants).
Short haul or 'short drag' songs (for t'gallants and royals).
Sweating-up, fore-sheet, or bowline shanties (boarding tacks and sheets, etc.)
Bunt shanty (for stowing a sail on the yard).
Hand-over-hand songs (for jibs, stays'ls, and braces).
Walkaway or stamp-'n'go songs (braces, etc.).

II. Heaving Songs (continuous process operations, utilizing pushing):
Main capstan or windlass songs (for heaving the anchor).
Capstan songs (for hoisting sails, etc., by 'mechanical' means, and warping in and out of dock).
Pump shanties.

Many heaving songs are in 4/4 time, many of them are shore marching songs, and many not sufficiently camouflaged to hide their shore origins. The shanties that come under the hauling-song group are in 6/8 time, usually less musical than the heaving songs and so "salty" (outright or mildly obscene) that their shore origins have been long forgotten.

Not all the heaving songs are marches, although the first tramp around the capstan was usually a march (taking in the slack of the cable, in other words, heaving the ship to her anchor). At the time of the American Civil War many army marching songs such as John Brown's Body, Dixie, The Battle Cry of Freedom, Maryland, and Yeller Rose of Texas were roared out on the fo'c'sle-head, and the Crimean War march Cheer, Boys, Cheer was used in a similar manner. Apart from the early stamp-around, marches were too fast to be used for the entire job of heaving the "hook". After the slack chain was aboard the shantyman would, instinctively, alter the tempo, and a slower tune like Shendoah or Stormalong would be raised. The quicker capstan songs too were often used at the maindeck capstans for setting sail, when the halyard would be taken to the capstan instead of being handed by the crowd (the sailors).

18 Oct 02 - 07:12 PM (#806445)
Subject: RE: Musical question (chantey types)
From: Gareth

And don't forget the Navigators menomics (sp)such as "Spanish Ladies",
or the 'Yachties' standbys such as.

"When you see three lights ahead,
Port your Helm and show your Red,
Green to Green, or Red to Red,
safetys assured, full speed ahead"

or the compass menomics :-

True          (TRUE)
Virgins         (VARIATION)
Make            (MAGNETIC)
Dull               (DEVIATION)
Companions      (COMPASS)



Or to apply Variation (in UK Waters)
"East is least, West is best."

Not true shanties perhaps, but work songs/rhymns never the less.

And a challenge to 'Catters can anybody come up with a shanty to fit the rhythem of trying to start a recallitrant out board. - Pull, Rewind etc, Clean Plugs, Clear Cylinder.

Just a thought.


19 Oct 02 - 12:26 AM (#806484)
Subject: RE: Musical question (chantey types)
From: toadfrog

Agree with everything Chanteyranger and Radriano just said. In addition, there were pumps which required both heaving (on the machinery) and hauling (on a rope) by different members of the crew. Otherwise, chanteys like South Australia and the Cape Cod Chantey ("Heave away, Haul away") would not make any sense. Bunting chanteys, for taking in reefs, tended to have short, explosive choruses. ("We'll pay Paddy Doyle for his BOOTS.") And chanteys for bracing yards are similar ("Bring her DOWN")

Finally, in the Black tradition there are also rowing chanteys, like Sam Gone Away , World of Misery or Blackbird Get Up which are not explosive at all, or sudden, and require a more relaxed singing style.