06 November 2011

#11 The Limejuice Ship

Stan Hugill was by far the most inclusive of the chanty-collection editors. Although his scholarship was not thorough (and didn't pretend to be), he was very thorough in including, from all the sources he consulted or people he talked to, any song that had ever been noted to have been "used as a chanty." This means that many songs are included in Shanties from the Seven Seas not because they were popular chanties, but rather because someone, somewhere, said they had heard the song sung during work. Here lies the meaning behind the rather cryptic subtitle of the book:
Shipboard work-songs and songs used as work-songs from the great days of sail
Such songs then are "songs used as work-songs"!

Hugill's volume is fascinating and impressive, then, in its expanse. However, the inclusion of so many songs that were only rarely (or only once) noted to be used can give a skewed view of the repertoire. It also gives a false sense of the extent to which "chanty" is a flexible category, or that songs could slide back and forth between genres. They certainly could...but earlier writers and historical references support an idea that it was quite clear what songs were known as chanties and which were known as "forebitters." "Spanish Ladies," for instance, was not noted as a chanty in any work earlier than Hugill's. And as, in the 2nd half of the 20th century, revival performers began to use the term "chanty" rather indiscriminately, it wouldn't help that the premier reference–Hugill's collection—confirmed that so many sea songs might be considered chanties.

"The Limejuice Ship," a ballad form, is one of the items in SfSS that had never been attested elsewhere as a chanty.

I recorded it fairly early on in the project, when my powers of memorization were perhaps not as good!

Eventually, I accounted for all the melodic variants that Hugill gave—any scrap of melody. So the following was made for that reason, i.e. so that both variations in chorus were represented.

Ranzo :{

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