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Gibb Sahib Gibb Sahib's New Book on Chanties (47) RE: Gibb Sahib's New Book on Chanties 03 May 18


In the middle of finals/graduation/panic season in university; just popping in for a sec.

Thanks for this thread, Lighter. Thanks everyone.

Roy Palmer's _Boxing the Compass: Sea Songs and Shanties_ is a slight (?) revision of the Oxford Book of Sea Songs, i.e. a song book.

My short book is _Boxing the Compass: A Century and a Half of Discourse about Sailors' Chanties_. The title is not just a snappy allusion to nautical content (though is that, too). It refers to the content of the work which, as tedious as it may sound (and it is to an extent, but I tried to pep it up), is a _literature review_. It aims to take one through "all" the "important" writings about sailors' chanties. NOT all the sources of evidence that might help one study one or another aspect of chanties as a field of study; rather, the field of study is the succession of works by people more or less explicitly / deliberately writing on it, which I interpret as constituting an accumulated discourse... and by extension, the history of how we come to know what we [think we] know, broadly speaking. "Boxing the compass" refers to the exercise, and the purported rigor: As one names every minute point on the compass in its entirety and in order, my composition considers the entire "compass" or writing and works through it in chronological/methodical order. I imply (though rather tongue in cheek, to be honest) that as a "good" sailor must be able to box the compass, a good scholar of the chanty subject should know all these points on the compass—the sources and their positions in the succession. (The broader philosophy being that one must try to understand how one has come to know what one knows about a subject before one offers to contribute to an expansion of that knowledge.)

Example of pieces of advice that my analysis offers would be: 1) Whall's work is solid in terms of the authenticity of texts/tune, but beware of the stuff he says about the genre and song items. 2) Colcord's work is convenient for casual singers (and was a great source for folk revival performers), but it's mostly useless for historians. 3) Bullen's work contains some of the most faithful representation of the knowledge of an experienced chantyman during the zenith of the practice, yet the timing of it, coming when other perspectives were predominant, may have led it to be neglected. etc etc

TL;DR: It's not a collection and it's not free exploration of topics that took the fancy, but rather something with a pretty focused and deliberate purpose.


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