Ships, Sea Songs and Shanties - Collected by W. B. Whall, Master Mariner
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Ships, Sea Songs and Shanties - Collected by W. B. Whall, Master Mariner


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135 pages

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First published in 1910, “Ships, Sea Songs and Shanties” is a vintage collection of traditional sailing songs, collected and published in this volume by W. B. Whall. Originally appearing in the “Nautical Magazine and Yachting Monthly”, the songs come complete with lyrics and sheet music, as well as pictures of various celebrated sailing ships of the time. William Boultbee Whall (1847–1917) was a Master mariner famous for writing this book. He became a member of the Merchant Navy when he was 14 and became acquainted with the songs during his 11 years aboard ships of the East India Companies. In addition to this volume, Whall also wrote a number of books related to practical seamanship and navigation. Many vintage books such as this are increasingly scarce and expensive. We are republishing this volume now in an affordable, modern, high-quality edition complete with specially-commissioned new introduction on folk music.



Publié par
Date de parution 06 août 2020
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781528768924
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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Collected by W. B. WHALL, Master Mariner
The Songs harmonised by R. H. WHALL, Mus.Bac., F.R.C.O., Etc . Illustrations by VERONICA WHALL

Copyright 2018 Read Books Ltd. This book is copyright and may not be reproduced or copied in any way without the express permission of the publisher in writing
British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Folk Music
Folk music includes both traditional music and the genre that evolved from it during the twentieth century folk revival. Traditional folk music has been broadly defined as music transmitted orally, without a single composer , as contrasted with commercial and classical styles.
A consistent and all-encompassing definition of traditional folk music is elusive however. The terms folk music, folk song, and folk dance are comparatively recent expressions. They are extensions of the term folklore, which was coined in 1846 by the English antiquarian William Thoms to describe the traditions, customs, and superstitions of the uncultured classes. The term is further derived from the German expression Volk, in the sense of the people as a whole as applied to popular and national music by Johann Gottfried Herder and the German Romantics over half a century earlier. The emergence of the term folk coincided with the mid-nineteenth century outburst of national feeling all over Europe, particularly at the edges of Europe, where national identity was most strongly asserted.
Folk music may tend to have certain characteristics but it cannot clearly be differentiated in purely musical terms. One meaning often given is that of old songs, with no known composers , another is that of music that has been submitted to an evolutionary process of oral transmission. . . . the fashioning and re-fashioning of the music by the community that give it its folk character. For scholars such as B la Bart k, (a Hungarian composer and pianist who collected and studied folk music - as one of the founders of comparative musicology and ethnomusicology) there was a sense of the music of the country as distinct from that of the town. Folk music was seen as the authentic expression of a way of life now past or about to disappear, particularly in a community uninfluenced by modern artistic and commercial music.
Throughout most of human prehistory and history, listening to recorded music was not possible. Music was made by common people during both their work and leisure. The work of economic production was often manual and communal. Manual labour often included singing by the workers, which served several practical purposes. It reduced the boredom of repetitive tasks, it kept the rhythm during synchronized pushes and pulls, and it set the pace of many activities such as planting, weeding, reaping, threshing, weaving, and milling. In leisure time, singing and playing musical instruments were common forms of entertainment and history-telling - even more common than today, when electrically enabled technologies made these forms of information-sharing competitive.
Opinions differ greatly on the origins of folk music. Some said it was art music that was changed and probably debased by oral transmission - others said it reflects the character of the race that produced it. Individual and Collective theories of its dissemination abound. Traditionally, the cultural transmission of folk music is through learning by ear, although notation may also be used, and traditional cultures that did not rely on written music produced work that was exceedingly difficult to categorise. Despite this, many scholars attempted just such an endeavour, and the English term folklore , entered the vocabulary of many continental European nations, each of which had its folk-song collectors and revivalists.
Cecil Sharp (the founding father of the folklore revival in England in the early twentieth century) had an influential idea about the process of folk variation: he felt that the competing variants of a traditional song would undergo a process akin to biological natural selection: only those new variants that were the most appealing to ordinary singers would be picked up by others and transmitted onward in time. Thus, over time we would expect each traditional song to become aesthetically ever more appealing - it would be collectively composed to perfection, as it were, by the community.
The distinction between authentic folk and national and popular song in general has always been loose. The International Folk Music Council definition allows that the term can also apply to music that has originated with an individual composer and has subsequently been absorbed into the unwritten, living tradition of a community. But the term does not cover a song, dance, or tune that has been taken over ready-made and remains unchanged. Apart from instrumental music that forms a part of traditional folk music, especially dance music traditions, much traditional folk music is vocal music, since the instrument that makes such music is usually handy. As such, most traditional folk music has meaningful, historically significant lyrics.
Narrative verse looms large in the traditional folk music of many cultures. This encompasses such forms as traditional epic poetry, much of which was meant originally for oral performance, sometimes accompanied by instruments. Many epic poems of various cultures were pieced together from shorter pieces of traditional narrative verse, which explains their episodic structure and often their in medias res plot developments. Other forms of traditional narrative verse (and hence folkloric singing) relate the outcomes of battles and other tragedies or natural disasters. Sometimes, as in the triumphant Song of Deborah found in the Biblical Book of Judges, these songs celebrate victory. Laments for lost battles and wars, and the lives lost in them, are equally prominent in many traditions; these laments keeping alive the cause for which the battle was fought.
Hymns and other forms of religious music are often of traditional and unknown origin, though their inclusion in the folkloric canon is debatable. Western musical notation was originally created to preserve the lines of Gregorian chant, which before its invention was taught as an oral tradition in monastic communities. Traditional songs such as Green grow the rushes (originating in the nineteenth century) present religious lore in a mnemonic form. In the Western world, Christmas carols and other traditional songs also preserve religious lore in song form. Other common forms of folk signing include work songs with call and response structures, designed to coordinate labourer s efforts. Often arising in the terrible times of slavery and forced labour, they were frequently, but not invariably composed by the community that sung them. In the American armed forces, a lively tradition of jody calls ( Duckworth chants ) are sung while soldiers are on the march, and all over the world, professional sailors make great use of sea shanties. Nursery rhymes, love poetry and nonsense verse also are also frequent subjects of traditional folk songs.
Music transmitted by word of mouth through a community, in time, develops many variants. This kind of transmission cannot produce word-for-word and note-fornote accuracy, which contrariwise - has proved to be the genre s greatest weakness, though also, its ultimate strength. Indeed, many traditional singers quite creatively and deliberately modify the material they learn. Because variants proliferate naturally, it is naive to believe that there is such a thing as the single authentic version of a folksong. Despite this, by keeping such music actively alive, developing lyrics and tunes, and keeping it relevant within a community, the great tradition of folk singing has been kept alive. It is hoped the current reader enjoys this book on the subject, and is encouraged to find out more.

Britannia needs no bulwarks
No towers along the steep
Her march is on the mountain waves,
Her home is on the deep .
See page 4 .
THESE Songs have appeared in the Nautical Magazine and Yachting Monthly .
By the courtesy of the Editors I now publish them in book form. A few portraits of celebrated sailing ships of the date in which these songs were sung are added. I set myself a plain task, namely, to write down these songs, music and words, as I heard them sung at sea by sailors. I have, therefore, not searched through the British Museum for the correct (?) wording or tune in any case. As to the spelling of shanty I see no reason why, because shore people have fancied a derivation of the word and written it chanty, I should follow. It was not so pronounced at sea, and to spell it so is misleading. I have good reasons for supposing that the presumed French derivation of this word is wrong.
The book would be shorn of half its value were it not for the harmonising of the Songs by my brother, R. H. Whall, Mus.Bac., and the clever Drawings of my niece, Miss Veronica Whall.
I hope this attempt to rescue these old Songs from oblivion will find favour.
November , 1910.
Preface to Second Edition.
A SECOND edition being called for so soon is gratifying to me. Curiously enough, I find that as many shore people are interested in these songs as sailors. I have added a few more Songs and Shanties; of course there are numbers of others, but I think this selection is fairly representative. I have been asked why The Banks of Sacramento is not inserted; this was nothing but an old Christy Minstrel song turned into a Shanty, and for that reason I omitted it. Questions have been asked about others, but it is impossible to use all.
February , 1912.
THE romance of the sea is gone, and with it are gone Sea Songs. Never more can the young commander pace his quarter-deck, the canvas bellying out overhead, the meteor flag crackling abaft, and bowl his broadsides into the enemy whilst
The gadlant Thunder bomb
surges along beneath his tread. Piracy and privateering are impossible; so are carrying on, reefing topsails, and all the many things which gave romance to the sailor s life. Where, then, is the theme for song? Had Kipling but arrived fifty years ago what a splendid shantyman he would have made (though he and his landsmen followers choose to call it chanty ). But to-day his theme does not exist; even to many modern seamen his verse has no meaning. What steam-boatman can appreciate his Anchor Song?

Wheel full and by; but she ll smell her road alone to-night;
Sick she is, and harbour sick, oh, sick to clear the land!
Roll down to Brest with the old Red Ensign over us-
Carry on, and thrash her out, with all she ll stand.
Then, again, where-in one of our few remaining sailing ships-are the old time shanties? Remains of them there are, it is true, but the character has all gone out of them. It is absurd to suppose that Dutchmen or Dagos, who chiefly man our sailing ships now, can in any way truly appreciate our ancient, wild hooraw choruses.

You ve sailed in a packet that flies the Black Ball,
You ve robbed some poor Dutchman of boots, clothes and all,
was appropriate enough in the mouth of an old packet rat, but has no meaning for those who now man our deep-water ships-the packets are all gone, and so are the roaring, brutal dogs who sailed them.
Sea life, when sail was the mode of propulsion, was ever a roaring, reckless life, rich in song, and Sea Songs are as old as over-sea voyages. Haul the Bowline is possibly one of the oldest, and with reason, for in the earliest days of the true sailing ship, when the square-sailed vessel took the place of the oared, lateen galley, the bowline was the most important of all ropes in a ship.
In a medi val work of about 1450, called the Complaynt of Scotland, we have a description of a voyage in a sailing ship which is very valuable, and so life-like that we are convinced, on reading it, that here we have indeed the real thing. In this quaint work a ship getting under weigh is described, and the orders of the master and the cries of the mariners, as they haul, are graphically given. As they heave up the anchor they sing a shanty as follows:-

Vayra, veyra, vayra, veyra,
Gentil gallantis veynde;
I see hym, veynde, I see hym,
Pourbossa, pourbossa.
Hail all and ane, hail all and ane;
Hail him up til us, hail him up til us.
(Haul one and all, haul him up to us).
The anchor is in sight,

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 shanty is-

Caupon caupona, caupon caupona,
Caupon hola, caupon hola,
Caupon holt, caupon holt,
Sarrabossa, sarrabossa.
Than, says the narrative, thai maid fast the shank of the ankyr.
Let us proceed in plainer English. Then the master shouted, Two men aloft to the foreyard. Cut the rovings and let the foresail fall. Haul down to starboard. Luff hard aboard. Haul aft the foresheet. Haul out the bowline.
On the order to haul the main bowline we have another shanty:-

Hou, hou; pulpela, pulpela; boulena, boulena;
Darta, darta; hard out strif.
Then on hoisting the lower yard, still another:-

Afore the wind, afore the wind,
God send, God send,
Fair weather, fair weather,
Many prizes, many prizes.
and so on till the order is make fast and belay : yet another-

Heisa, heisa,
Vorsa, Vorsa,
Vou, Vou,
One long pull,
More power,
Young blood,
More mud.
Then they break out into the following:-

Yellow hair, hips bare.
To him all. Vidde fulles all.
Great and small, one and all,
Heisa, heisa.
Strangely like what we might hear even to-day, and this is four hundred and fifty years ago!
The seaman of old time delighted in doleful ballads of which the tune was as mournful as the words. The more dismal the whole thing was the better it was appreciated. These were akin to the similar ballad of the land which dealt with such things as cruel murders, hangings, ghost stories, and so on.
A good example of this branch of sea melody is the ballad of Captain Kidd of piratical notoriety. It is too long to be given fully, but here are the first two verses-

O, my name is Captain Kidd,
As I sailed, as I sailed.
O, my name is Captain Kidd,
As I sailed.
O, my name is Captain Kidd,
Many wicked things I did,
And God s laws I did forbid,
As I sailed.
O, I murdered William Moore,
As I sailed, as I sailed.
O, I murdered William Moore,
As I sailed.
O, I murdered William Moore,
And I left him in his gore,
A many leagues from shore,
As I sailed.
It is somewhat peculiar that Sea Songs and Shanties have been so much before the public in late years, when it is considered that the palmy days of these melodies were fifty years ago. We have had books of Sea Songs collected by John Masefield, Christopher Stone, and others, and quite lately a very valuable volume issued by the Navy Records Society, for which an Oxford professor is responsible. Now, all of these smell of the British Museum; much labour has been expended in hunting amongst old records, ballad sheets, and such like, and much musty stuff unearthed, which may be of some value to the historian, but most of which is clean forgotten. In none of these books are any tunes given, and the words of a song without the music are very like dry bones. In all these collections-and an earlier one published by Bell Daldy in 1863-many celebrated sea songs appear, most of which are not real sea songs but imitations by landsmen. In this category are The Death of Nelson, The Anchor s Weighed, Hearts of Oak, The Arethusa, and many others of a like nature. Nearly all of these songs appeared originally upon the stage during the long period when we were engaged in naval warfare with Continental nations. They corresponded with the modern example of a song much heard in late years-though military, not naval-

Oh, Tommy, Tommy Atkins.
Now, doubtless, many of these were sung in the ward-room, but not before the mast. Marryat tells us that Shields song, The Heaving of the Lead, which is from the Operatic Farce of Hertford Bridge, was a favourite with officers, and such a good example may perhaps have reached the forecastle:-

For England when with fav ring gale
Our gallant ship up channel steered,
And scudding under easy sail,
The high, blue, western land appeared.
To heave the lead the seaman sprang
And to the pilot cheerly sang,
By the deep- NINE .
But it is not a sailor song; scudding under easy sail gives the show away if nothing else does.
An older class of Sea Song is composed of Come all ye s! Such songs were chiefly written by some half-educated printer s tout, and printed for street ballad singers, who sold them to the lower classes literally by the yard. This was a very old industry, which was in vogue in Shakespeare s time, as witness Autolycus, who has the prettiest love songs for maids, so without bawdry, which is strange, and also songs for man or woman of all size, and many others. After any notable fight at sea, whether between fleets or single ships, one of these ballads was promptly put on the market, and usually began somewhat in this strain-

Come all ye gallant sailors bold,
And listen to my song.
Hence their general appellation. The destruction of the Spanish Armada gave birth to such songs, and there are still earlier examples. Now, doubtless, some of these may be rightly termed real sailor songs as, probably, sailors sang them, but many of them are, in truth, poor stuff, and most wearisome to a modern. Few of them, however, were written by sailors, and in later days, if heard at all, they generally emanated from one of the idlers, not from the seamen.
Now, seamen who spent their time in cargo-carrying sailing ships never heard a decent Shanty; the words which sailor John put to them when unrestrained were the veriest filth. But another state of things obtained in passenger and troop ships; here sailor John was given to understand very forcibly that his words were to be decent or that he was not to shanty at all. (As a rule, when the passengers were landed and this prohibition was removed, the notorious Hog-Eye Man at once made its appearance.) The consequence was that in those ships the old-time Shanties were sung to their proper words, and most of the good ones had a story in verse that never varied, though in a long hoist if the regulation words did not suffice, a good shanty-man would improvise to spin out. It was in these vessels-and these only-that a collector of songs was wanted, and it was only in such vessels that a collection could have been made. Such a collection was made, both of Songs and Shanties, by me.
Other compilers of collections of songs have in some cases taken songs from this book without acknowledgment. It must be understood that all rights are rigidly reserved both as to words and music.
And now a personal word or two are necessary. I was intended for the church, not for the sea, and during my early years at Oxford I received a fairly thorough musical training under the late Sir John Stainer, afterwards organist of St. Paul s Cathedral. Going to sea then, in 1861, in the old passenger-carrying East Indiamen, these sailor Songs and Shanties struck me as worthy of preservation. During my eleven years in those ships I took down the words and music of these songs as they were actually sung by sailors, so that what I present here may be relied upon as the real thing.

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