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Sea Shanty Teach History Through Song

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American Culture Makers


Karen Ellis author of this website says, "the evolutionary roots of music are shared not only by the human animal but many in the animal world. Humans make music like many other animals do (interspecies) and the intent is to communicate with other animals.
Chant is the heartbeat of culture, designed to bring everyone together in harmonious synchronicity as any traveling pack animal culture needs to survive.
Speech and Song is an oral / aural tradition and is useful when there are stories to tell that may be as long as 2,500 verses. Song helps you memorize the information in the stanzas, which of course is no longer necessary to do now, since print was recently invented.
Interdisciplinary Social Rhythm Researchers
show how music strikes a chord with language.
Tonal Language culture demand attention to pitch and develop perfect pitch as a result. There is a window of time, for a child between 1 month and 6 years old when you are able to teach them to have: perfect pitch, language, and a perfect sense of time. Our musical roots lie in our voice speech spectrum predict the chromatic scale. The body is also wired for perfect time.

Power of Print, Ballads, & Literacy
Reading the Word In 1718 the first book to be printed on a permanent printing press in Wales was a ballad about smoking.

Authentic Gospel Music May Comes from Scotland

8/17/17 Paul Oliver, scholar who helped spur a blues revival, dies at 90 Bessie Smith “The Story of the Blues
Paul Oliver, a British academic who wrote some of the first scholarly studies of blues music in the 1950s and 1960s, which helped spur a worldwide renewal of interest in the music, and who was also a prominent architectural historian, died Aug. 15 at a nursing center in Shipton-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire, England. He was 90. In the United States, Mr. Oliver was better known for his work on the blues, which grew out of a teenage experience at a summer camp, where a friend named Stan played a record of field hollers.
“Suddenly the air seemed split by the most eerie sounds,” Mr. Oliver wrote years later. “The two men were singing, swooping, undulating, unintelligible words, and the back of my neck tingled. 'They're singing a blues,' Stan hissed at me. It was the strangest, most compelling singing I'd ever heard.” At first, Mr. Oliver combined his twin interests in art and music by painting covers for British blues albums in the 1950s. He also wrote essays for jazz magazines, exploring the various styles of blues and gospel music, before publishing his Smith biography in 1959. He made his first visit to the United States in 1960, roaming Northern cities and the still-segregated South to interview and photograph blues musicians, both famous and forgotten. He spent hours with such musicians as Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee and helped rediscover other early masters who died young, including Charley Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Peetie Wheatstraw . Mr. Oliver also journeyed throughout West Africa, exploring the origins of the blues.

Roots of Shanty Songs

We now have fourteen different scores for Captain Kidd plus eighty three other melodies that resemble Captain Kidd. To compare ninety seven tunes has become unmanageable. Two Computer Scientists at the University of Limerick have developed a way to arrange a music database for comparison. Donncha O'Maidin and Mikael Fernström write that melodic distance can be defined by a geometric algorithm

Maurice Abravanel - American. Born, Jan. 6, 1903 in Salonika, Greece. Died, September, 1993. In 1936 he came to US and conducted the Metropolitan Opera. In 1938 he left the Met to conduct Broadway. In 1949, received a Tony Award for conducting of Regina. 1970, served as a member of the first music panel of the National Endowment for the Arts. 1991, awarded the National Medal of the Arts. Abravanel's family were Sephardic Jews. He was a descendant of Don Isaac Abravanel, born in 1438, who, as finance minister to Queen Esabella of Spain, arranged funding for the first voyage of Christopher Columbus. In 1492 Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue Story

Army and Navy Chronicle 1835-1844 The American magazine of Nov. 9, 1837 (p. 293) reprints, from the _Londonderry Journal_, "further particulars" of "The Voyage of H.M.S. Terror, Commanded by Captain Beck." The _Gazette_ identifies the Captain as "Beck," but George "Back" is correct. According to the article, _Terror_ had been trapped in in Arctic ice for more than a year, from June 1836 to July 1837. Having finally cut the ship loose, "the men were incessantly at the pumps, night and day, one-half sleeping while the rest were pumping, six feet of water being in the hold." See Captain George Back's voyage in the 'H.M.S. Terror' in the Arctic regions during 1836-37. Capain Back's second Expidition.

The article goes on to remark "the exhilerating [sic] and enlivening effect produced among the brave but exhausted crew, by the singing of a series of songs, while at work, composed by one of the sailors, who had been a long time at the West Indies, in the merchant trade, where he picked up the tunes from the black fellows. Although it is contrary to man-of-war discipline to allow noise at work, yet, in this case, it is agreed on all hands that he was of the greatest service; any thing being excusable which could encourage men situated as they were."
The _Terror_ finally reached Lough Swilly, anchoring at "Knockalto fort." An Internet site dates the beaching (rather than anchoring) of the vessel at Lough Swilly to Sept. 3. When the vessel came to anchor, the sailors at work were "busy, chorusing the sailor's song of 'Sally round the corner.' " This was presumably a version of the shanty still familiar as "Round the Corner, Sally."
This may be the earliest known account to connect shantying with the West Indies, as well as the earliest to emphasize the _ad lib_ nature of the lyrics--not surprising since there seems to have been just one man in the crew of nearly sixty who knew some shanties.
Victorian painting of the "Perilous position of H.M.S. 'Terror', Captain Back, in the Arctic Regions in the summer of 1837" :
The painting is by William Smyth, First Lieutenant of the vessel during the ordeal, and while it demonstrates what the age expected of "eyewitness art" in general, it clearly makes its point that the officers and men of _Terror_ experienced a true "frozen hell" in Hudson's Bay.
Also Discovered by Doerflinger in a book called _The Quid_ (London, 1832). Doerflinger reprints the relevant passage on p. 94 of "Shantymen and Shantyboys." One of the two minuscule shanty extracts he found is as follows:
Oh! if I had her,
Eh then if I had her,
Oh! I would love her
Black although she be!
This is unquestionably the same as a half stanza in a bawdy song, "O Gin I Had Her," from Burns's _Merry Muses_ a generation or so earlier :
O gin I had her
Yea, gin I had her,
O gin I had her,
Black altho' she be.
- The Scots song has nothing to do with the sea, and Burns may have written most of it. ~Jonathan Lighter

Roger Abrahams gives a number of late eighteenth and very early nineteenth century references to shanty-like work songs (mostly stevedore songs) in the Caribbean in _Deep the Water, Shallow the Shoal_. What's especially interesting is the direct attribution to African song forms, which clearly supports Doerflinger and Hugill's contention that shantying on Anglo-American vessels was a derivative tradition.
Note that H.M.S. Terror was one of the two vessels lost in the Franklin expedition, about 10 years after this event. Nice to know that she has other attachments to the history of traditional song. ~ Jamie Moreira
Note that H.M.S. Terror was one of the two vessels lost in the Franklin expedition, about 10 years after this event. Nice to know that she has other attachments to the history of traditional song.
_Erebus_ and _Terror_ have quite a lot of importance historically; there are some bits of it in the Ballad Index entry on Franklin. There is a lot more in Delgado's _Across the Top of the World_, cited in that entry. And _Terror_ was one of the bomb ships that inspired "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Also, some versions of _Rolling Down to Old Maui_ appear to have tie-ins to NW Passage exploration. Some ships tried the passage from the west rather than the east (mostly during the hunt for Franklin), and the references seem to tie in to that. No connection with _Terror_ herself.
Franklin was for a time governor of Tasmania. There might be some tie-ins with bushranger ballads, though I haven't found any yet. ~ Bob Waltz

WOMEN Guitaritst from 1885 until present The exhibit incorporates text biographies of women guitarists in American popular music with ten 20 x 24 inch photographs.

Well known old timey instruments

Jasper and Marian Sanfilippo's Victorian Palace, is a 44,000-square-foot mansion and private museum in Barrington Hills, Illinois. The world's largest collection of restored automatic musical instruments is on display -- phonographs, music boxes, coin-operated pianos, orchestrions, dance organs, calliopes, and more. Two of the highlights of the Victorian Palace are the gargantuan 80-rank, 8000-pipe theater organ, with chambers occupying four stories, and the Eden Palais, an exquisite European salon carousel from 1890.

The first keyboard musical instrument and the ancestor of the modern church organ.

Learn to play the musical saw GLASS ARMONICA
"Of all my inventions, the GLASS ARMONICA has given me the greatest personal satisfaction." - Ben Franklin

German Folk Instrument the Harmonica
The harmonica (mouth organ) was invented in 1821 by the German clock maker, Christian Friedrich Ludwig Buschmann, and quickly became popular among the masses due to its simplicity (it was easy to learn to play), conveniently small size, inexpensive cost and pleasing sound. Within a short time other builders began manufacturing the instrument. Martin wrote, "In 1825 Fr. Hotz began producing mouth organs in his factory in Knittlingen, Germany. Another German, Christian Messner, acquired some of Christian Buschmann's auras. He set up shop in his clock making firm in Trossingen in 1827 and began manufacturing instruments that were similar to Buschmann's 'aura.' Messner called these instruments mundaeolines.
In 1930 the American band leader, John Philip Sousa (1854-1932), wrote a piece for harmonica band, titled The Harmonica Wizard. Paul E. Bierley, the author of The Works of John Philip Sousa, wrote, "Leading a harmonica band was a novel experience for Sousa when he was invited to conduct Albert N. Hoxie's fifty-two member Philadelphia harmonica band in September 1925.

June 26-July 28, 2006 (5 weeks)
Deane L. Root and Mariana E. Whitmer
Center for American Music University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

From Digital History AND Historical Music


D.K. Wilgus Folksong Collection awarded Grammy Foundation Grant
The Ethnomusicology Archive has been awarded a $40,000 grant by the GRAMMY Foundation to digitize and make accessible 1,000 unique recordings from the D.K. Wilgus Folksong Collection. The project--known as the Wilgus Access and Preservation Project (WAPP)--is the second Archive preservation project funded by the GRAMMY Foundation since 2002.
ABOUT D.K. WILGUS: D.K. Wilgus was a giant in the field of folklore studies. He was a folksong scholar and renowned authority on "race" records, and "hillbilly" music. At the time of his death in 1991 he had authored over 250 works and edited several journals.
Wilgus was also an indefatigable fieldworker and folksong collector. In 1965, while establishing the UCLA Folklore and Mythology Program with Wayland Hand, Wilgus founded the Archives of Folklore and Mythology. This archive included materials documenting belief, medicine, dance, and folk music. When the Program and Archives were disbanded in 2002, more than 10,000 sound recordings and folk music related materials were transferred to the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive.
CONTENTS: The Wilgus Collection consists of 8,000 commercially recorded albums, 2,800 field-recorded tapes, and some 20 linear feet of supporting manuscripts. With WAPP we will preserve and increase access to a selection of the most valuable tapes in the Collection. WAPP we have selected the following 1,000 field recordings for digitization: 381 reels from Wilguss Archive of California and Western Folklore (ACWF). At 1,754 reels, ACWF is the largest part of the Wilgus Collection and covers such diverse topics as music, beliefs, medicine, jokes, and tales. The 381 ACWF field recordings selected for WAPP document folk musics in America, including Filipino gospel in Santa Monica, Irish mining songs from Montana, Portuguese music in San Diego, Creole music in Louisiana, Chicano music, Dutch music in Los Angeles, Yiddish music, Japanese-American songs in West Los Angeles, California cowboy songs, and more. 234 reels documenting UCLA Folk Festivals. Recorded at UCLA in 1963, 1964, 1965, 1978 and 1979.
Original performances by Sam Hinton, Doc Watson, Clarence Ashley; Kenny Whitson, Wellman Braud, Mike Seeger, Rodney Balfa, Dewey Balfa; Mark Savoy, Alle Young, Patty Hall, Rose Maddox, Sally OConnor, Jimmie Driftwood, Ollie Gilbert, Son House, The Triumphs, and others. 182 reels deposited by Wilgus student David Evans. Performers include Rev. Rubin Lacy, Babe Stovall, Herb Quinn, Roosevelt Holts, Sally Dotson, Robert Pete Williams, Henry R. Crossley, Myrt Holmes, and others.
165 reels from Wilguss Western Kentucky Folklore Archive. Collected by Wilgus while at Western Kentucky University in the 1950s and early 1960s. Contains recordings by Doc Hopkins and scores of lesser-known Appalachian musicians. 17 reels deposited by Wilgus student and Testament Records founder Peter Welding. Includes live recordings of the Blue Sky Boys, Bill Bolick, Earl Bolick, Fred McDowell, Billie and Dee Dee Pierce, Jimmie Tarlton, and others. 13 reels of live performances by finger-picking songster Mance Libcomb. Recorded by Wilgus students Birnbaum and Iwakiin in 1966 in Novasota, Texas. 8 reels collected in 1966 by Wilgus student John Fahey. Includes recordings by fiddling great Tony Thomas.
COPYRIGHT: As is the case with all our collections, the Archive physically owns the Wilgus Collection but does not own the rights to most materials (e.g. copyright, performance rights, publishing rights, etc). Therefore, we will not publish or allow personal dubbing of the material without express written permission from copyright holders. Fortunately section 108 of U.S. Copyright Law gives us the right to make preservation and access copies, and make these materials available for research.
PLAN OF WORK: The WAPP recordings contain a constellation of sounds. Though they are a diverse lot, they do have one thing in common: all are in need of preservation. Some reels have faired better than others, but all show the inevitable effects of time: cupping, edge fluttering, binder disintegration, print-through, and sticky shed syndrome.
The WAPP plan of work has two goals: to 1) preserve the recordings in a manner that meets current archival standards and 2) greatly increase access to the recordings. Our methodology is built on internationally accepted practices and the Archives eight years of digitization experience (e.g., an NEH preservation grant, a GRAMMY preservation grant, and recent preservation efforts).
Overview: July 2006 to June 2008 We estimate it takes three times the length of a recording to digitize and provide access to it. Therefore, it will take approximately 3,000 hours to digitize 1,000 recordings. If we commit 34 hours per week over the course of 88 weeks (roughly two years) we will preserve and provide access to the materials.
Preparation: May 2006 July 2006 Before the grant begins, Archive staff will page back the 1,000 WAPP recordings from the Southern Regional Library Facility (SRLF). Since a detailed finding aid for the entire Collection already
exists, Archive staff will double-check the accuracy of the documentation and the tapes for wear and deterioration: those media that show the highest degree of deterioration will be given priority in the digitization process. Tape players will also be reconditioned at this stage.
Reformatting and Processing: July 2006 May 2008 WAPP reels will be played back on reconditioned Nagra tape players and digitally reformatted into 24bit/96kHz Broadcast Wav Format (BWF) preservation files via two existing reformatting stations in the Archive: a G4 iMac with an Apogee Mini-Me A/D converter and a Dell PC with another Mini-Me A/D converter. We will capture the analog recording in as flat a manner as possible (i.e. we will not equalize or apply noise reduction filters during capture), while monitoring recording levels and quality. Metadata about the newly created digital assets will be included in the BWF files and access MPEG-4 files, and made available on our website and through an EAD finding aid. The EAD finding aid will be available through the Online Archive of California (OAC) and linked to our website. After digitizing a reel, BWF preservation files and MPEG-4 access files will be stored onto separate preservation sets of Mitsui data CD-Rs and DVD-Rs.
These preservation media will be stored along with the analog tapes at the SRLF and will be checked using error detection software.
Access: October 2006 June 2008 Throughout the grant, MPEG-4 files will be uploaded to the Archives server. These files will then be accessed via computers in the Archive. If the server or hard drives fail, preservation CDs will be used to reinstall content. Detailed information about the recordings and the Collection will be made freely available on our catalog ethnomusicat and the OAC.
Beyond 2008 Throughout WAPP the Archive will work with the UCLA Digital Library in making all MPEG-4 files available online via their website.We plan to use their online Frontera collection as our model for such access. Frontera is an elegant online solution to access which operates within the realm of fair use by offering non-downloadable, streaming files and 50-second samples to off-campus patrons. Full-length files can heard via computers on the UCLA campus or by off-campus patrons through special arrangement with the Digital Library. As a part of this collaboration, all WAPP BWF and MPEF-4 files will be backed up on the Digital Library server arrays and data tape. These files will be linked to our OAC finding aids. This will increase access to the materials and assure that BWF and MPEG-4 files will be preserved by state-of-the-art technologies developed by OACs parent organization, the California Digital Library.
To learn more about WAPP please contact John Vallier: <>