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Chanteys in Royal Navy?

Lighter 16 Aug 17 - 02:22 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Aug 17 - 03:14 PM
Lighter 16 Aug 17 - 09:27 PM
Gurney 19 Aug 17 - 07:10 PM
Gibb Sahib 19 Aug 17 - 11:15 PM
vectis 21 Aug 17 - 03:26 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 21 Aug 17 - 03:45 AM
Teribus 21 Aug 17 - 05:35 AM
Gibb Sahib 21 Aug 17 - 08:32 AM
GUEST,Derrick 21 Aug 17 - 09:26 AM
Steve Gardham 21 Aug 17 - 01:23 PM
Dave the Gnome 21 Aug 17 - 03:35 PM
Dave the Gnome 21 Aug 17 - 03:52 PM
Gibb Sahib 21 Aug 17 - 07:05 PM
Teribus 22 Aug 17 - 02:21 AM
Leadfingers 22 Aug 17 - 04:38 AM
Gibb Sahib 22 Aug 17 - 04:49 AM
GUEST 22 Aug 17 - 05:54 AM
Teribus 22 Aug 17 - 06:39 AM
bazza 23 Aug 17 - 03:50 AM
GUEST,Derrick 24 Aug 17 - 12:09 PM
GUEST,Tyro Sailor 24 Aug 17 - 08:33 PM
GUEST,Derrick 25 Aug 17 - 04:14 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 25 Aug 17 - 05:11 AM
Gibb Sahib 26 Aug 17 - 09:59 PM
Steve Gardham 27 Aug 17 - 09:07 AM
GUEST,Derrick 27 Aug 17 - 09:38 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 24 Apr 19 - 09:02 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 25 Apr 19 - 03:00 PM
GUEST,Teribus 25 Apr 19 - 03:16 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 25 Apr 19 - 03:46 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 25 Apr 19 - 05:29 PM
Lighter 26 Apr 19 - 10:52 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 26 Apr 19 - 02:03 PM
Ged Fox 29 Apr 19 - 03:49 AM
Gibb Sahib 29 Apr 19 - 04:26 AM
Gibb Sahib 29 Apr 19 - 04:27 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 29 Apr 19 - 12:11 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 29 Apr 19 - 12:13 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 29 Apr 19 - 12:39 PM
GUEST 29 Apr 19 - 01:38 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 30 Apr 19 - 12:43 AM
GUEST 30 Apr 19 - 03:05 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 30 Apr 19 - 04:31 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 30 Apr 19 - 01:18 PM
GUEST 30 Apr 19 - 01:58 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 30 Apr 19 - 06:56 PM
GUEST,Observer 30 Apr 19 - 08:14 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 01 May 19 - 02:51 AM
GUEST,Observer 01 May 19 - 02:01 PM
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Subject: Early Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Lighter
Date: 16 Aug 17 - 02:22 PM

It's generally agreed that chanteys were not routinely permitted in the Royal Navy of the "Great Age of Chanteying," ca.1830-1880.

But there's at least one apparent reference to RN sailors of the previous generation singing while hauling.

From Marine Lieut. Henry Barnet Gascoigne, "Gascoigne's Path to Naval Fame," 2nd edition (1825), p.75:

"Beating to Windward...
Now with a song the Bow-lines well they Haul;
The Weather Braces then Haul-taught of all."

On the other hand, as Hugill and others observe, the bowline (regardless of the well-known chantey) was not the sort of rope that needed a whole song. Gascoigne himself defines it as follows (p.167):

"Small ropes attached the Leeches or sides of the sails, to bowse or draw the weather side forward when sailing upon a wind, that is, beating to windward."

But possibly what Gascoigne heard was merely a "sing-out" or a single line.

According to correspondent in the Times (Aug. 26, 1918), Gascoigne served in the RN frigate Melpomene in 1805.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Aug 17 - 03:14 PM

Hi Jon
Gibb would no doubt have the actual references but I seem to remember
the east coast naval cutters that specialised in pressing seamen were known to have sung chanteys during the Napoleonic Wars. The particular chantey mentioned was 'Cheerily-man'. Whether this type of chanteying was related in some way to the great mid-Atlantic period c1830-60 I couldn't say. I very much doubt if the word 'chantey'
as applied to sea labour song was used during the Napoleonic Wars. Note that in the above poem the word 'chantey' is not used though it certainly appears to be a sea-labour song being described. Has Gibb finished his book yet?


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Lighter
Date: 16 Aug 17 - 09:27 PM

Steve, I seem to remember the same thing.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Gurney
Date: 19 Aug 17 - 07:10 PM

A guy that I knew long ago used to say that the "Only shanty allowed in the RN was 'Blow the Man Down'"

Could possibly be used on the capstan, I suppose.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 19 Aug 17 - 11:15 PM

Hauling a bowline was a "short haul" task, comparable to "boarding a tack" (tack being the line attached to the a clew of the course, below where a bowline is attached, to the leech).

Sailing ships nowadays generally don't have bowlines. I suppose there must be a few that do, perhaps replicas of 18th and early 19th century vessels? It's not something I've paid close attention to, but my non-authoritative impression is that they generally are not part of the rigging.

There is a classic book about rigging from 1915 (?); I don't remember the name. But it makes the point that in Elizabethan times bowlines were more "important" lines and, I think, heavier. I believe this is the point that Hugill was repeating when he tried to reason an age for the "Haul the Bowline" song. I consider Hugill's point to be moot to the argument about the age of "Haul the Bowline," however, since bowlines evidently were still in use in the mid-19th century, i.e. at the same time when "Haul the Bowline" appears in literature.

I'm no expert on the timeline of bowline use. However, Harlow (who sailed in 1875) talks about bowlines. He says that sing-outs were sung when "hauling aft the sheet of the courses, boarding the main tack, or hauling out the bowline" (pg 5).

In _The Sailor's Word-Book_ by Smyth, 1867, the author refers to the use of bowlines, and does not say it was old/obsolete. Further, he defines the term "Bowline haul", pg 124:

//
A hearty and simultaneous bowse. (See One! Two!! Three !!!) In hauling the bowline it is customary for the leading man to veer, and then haul, three times in succession, singing out one, two, three—at the last the weight of all the men is thrown.
//

Elsewhere he denies "One, two three!" (pg 506)
//
The song with which the seamen bowse out the bowlines; the last haul being completed by belay O!
//

In Falconer's _Universal Dictionary of the Marine_, 1760s, he defined "un, deus, troi":
//
...an exclamation, or song, used by seamen when hauling the bowlines, the greatest effort being made at the last word. English sailors, in the same manner, call out on this occasion,—haul-in—haul-two—haul-belay!
//

It may be less significant that Smyth uses the phrase "singing out" and more significant that Falconer calls this simple 1,2,3 "an exclamation, or song."

There are some other references in French to vocalizing while giving stiff pulls on a bowline.

While the idea of "chanties" not being sung in navy vessels is basically true, I wouldn't read that to exclude *vocalizing* during the short hauls, i.e. bowline, tack, course sheet, and various difficult "sweats" that required multiple people.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: vectis
Date: 21 Aug 17 - 03:26 AM

I don't think the RN had shanteys, they did évolutions' which were a series of moves to achieve an action. They were practiced using a command and then counting numbers until that part of the evolution was completed. I am sure that fore-bitters were heard especially during make do and mend days.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 21 Aug 17 - 03:45 AM

William Bolton supplied a number of songs to folk song collector Anne Gilchrist around 1905 which later turned up in the Penguin Book of Folksong.
He had learned shanties in leasure time while serving in the Royal Navy.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Teribus
Date: 21 Aug 17 - 05:35 AM

I'd tend to go with Vectis - Commands in the RN covered evolutions concerning the sailing of the ship and serving the guns. Ship for ship RN vessels carried far larger crews than merchantmen, of those crews roughly half will be asleep, or off watch, at any given time. Singing shanties to "work" the ship would not have gone down well with those off-watch. Commands were given either by shouting numbers (Mainly when serving the guns) and by bosun's call or pipe when handling sail - both of these methods of communication orders would be heard when the ship was in action - a song would not, a song would also be rather bizarre considering what would be going on all round you.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 21 Aug 17 - 08:32 AM

Dudes of late:

1. The conventional wisdom, as asserted in 19th and early 20 c. sources, is indeed (already) that chanties were not sung in RN. And the absence of [other] evidence that they were supports that indirectly. No need for speculations about what "would be" the case. Lighter is presenting an actual example that might evidence an *exception* to that conventional wisdom, or which might nuance it. So steamrolling the whole topic with unsupported and non-specific chatter about what one supposes "would be" does not engage the topic.

2. Coordinating a stiff pull on a course sheet or tack in weather was not a matter of a command. The command is finished, the men are on the line. Now, the men are about to haul. Is there a sound to indicate when to pull? If so, what sound? Lighter's source refers to there being a "song." What is meant by song // what was the song? And how does this "song" relate to the popular assertion that (paraphrased) "chanties were not sung in RN"?


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 21 Aug 17 - 09:26 AM

When I worked in Devonport Dockyard many years ago I often did jobs on ships which were in commission.
The crews would be carrying out routine jobs some of which would involve
pulling or pushing.
When the men were in position the rating in charge would give a command to ready them,followed by two,six heave,this was repeated as necessary to complete the task.
The effort was co-ordinated without the need for a song.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Aug 17 - 01:23 PM

We are all now well aware that chanteys were not necessary and not part of the discipline on board men-of-war in the period under discussion. Having said that there seems to have been a small amount of evidence that chanteys may have been used on the smaller non-combat vessels. The men would certainly have known chanteys as many of them had been merchant seamen.

Jon,
Is Gascoigne definitely describing life in the RN at this point? Could he have been MN before that and remembering what happened there? If he is referring back to 1805 on the Melpomene it seems highly unlikely on 2 accounts.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 21 Aug 17 - 03:35 PM

Having an interest in shantys and an uncle that was in the RN I once asked him if he was aware of any such singing. Daft question really seeing as he was never a seaman on a sailing ship but funnily enough he was aware of some shantys. His description was that they should never be sung in mixed company :-) I guess they were what are known as focsle (sp?) songs and never used for work.

DtG


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 21 Aug 17 - 03:52 PM

Saw this beauty when last up in Kirkcudbright. She takes on land lubbers like me for a nominal fee and a bit of work. I am very tempted! It would probably kill me off :-)

DtG


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 21 Aug 17 - 07:05 PM

I have not seen any evidence for "two, six, heave" before the mid-20th century -- then again, I have not searched hard for any either --

But it stands to reason that if before some 20th c. date the navy men were not saying 2-6-heave in the relevant situations, then what, if anything, were they saying? Well, I've offered evidence that one of the things they said was simply "1-2-3" (which makes a lot more sense than 2-6-heave, now doesn't it!?).

Lighter's reference, which uses the term "song," suggests that either something other than "1-2-3" was recited at that time OR, I think, that the same was vocalized in some way that made it different than ordinary speech.

Steve,
My concern/suggestion is that the various situations in which one might supply a sound to accompany action on a ship include enough diversity that to make blanket statements about "Work chants - yes or no?" is perhaps less enlightening than to focus on the specific task. Somewhat as an aside, I believe that "long drags" halyards and heaving at the lever windlass were the "native" applications for the chanty songs in the strict sense of chanty as a song genre. Prior to the introduction of the chanty genre to ships, the lever windlass situation is moot (it wasn't invented yet) and as for halyards, the evidence doesn't indicate that any singing was customary. The handspike windlass (on merchant ships), capstan (on men of war), and short drags were all other, separate matters I prefer to view case-by-case than under the umbrella of a chanty-ing tradition per se. Cheers.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Teribus
Date: 22 Aug 17 - 02:21 AM

The "two-six" heave comes from the order for a guns crew to "Heave" on the tackle required to run the gun out prior to it being fired. As previously stated the RN relied on numbers and calls on a bosun's pipe.

"When the men were in position the rating in charge would give a command to ready them,followed by two,six heave,this was repeated as necessary to complete the task.
The effort was co-ordinated without the need for a song."


The command to ready them was the "Two-Six" given by whoever was in charge of the evolution the "Heave" was the response given by those on the rope, or whatever was being pulled.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 22 Aug 17 - 04:38 AM

I was told YEARS ago that one reason Shanties were frowned on in the RN was that they would be an opportunity to be 'impolite' to the ship's officers , to the detriment of good discipline


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 22 Aug 17 - 04:49 AM

Yes, Teribus, "2-6-heave" is a ubiquitous chant used *nowadays* / recently to coordinate effort. Anyone who has worked around ships since the later 20th century has heard it, and probably also heard the "guns" explanation, though people invariably cite no source. Can you date it? I would be obliged if you could. At some point was it a chant only heard in application to moving a cannon in and out of position (as, for example, it's used in demonstration at the U.S.S. Constitution in Boston, MA)? If so, when and why was it adapted for any and all combined-effort tasks? Was it Sail Training International (for example) who decided this military call would be a good one to work into their revival of seamanship, while simultaneously leaving all the chanties behind? (And did they --whoever they were-- not experience dissonance by saying "heave" when they were *hauling*?) And so what about the 1-2-3 and the haul-in-haul-2-belay attested for the 100 years from Falconer to Smyth? Chopped liver?

The OP is talking about 1825.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Aug 17 - 05:54 AM

One explanation I came across some time ago was that 2-6 referred to groundcrew moving an aeroplane, two at the tail and six at the wings. That fits in better with a twentieth century origin for the expression, rather than a mysterious sailing ship guncrew.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Teribus
Date: 22 Aug 17 - 06:39 AM

Read what I said in my first post to this thread Gibb Sahib.

1: "Commands in the RN covered evolutions concerning the sailing of the ship and serving the guns."

2: "Commands were given either by shouting numbers (Mainly when serving the guns) and by bosun's call or pipe when handling sail - both of these methods of communication orders would be heard when the ship was in action - a song would not"

The gun thing is how it was explained to us while in the Royal Navy by RN Seamanship Instructors. As for the "what about the 1-2-3 and the haul-in-haul-2-belay attested for the 100 years from Falconer to Smyth" - Never heard of either and never used either.

2-6-Heave was also used when raising and turning out ships boats when they were hung from unpowered radial davits.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: bazza
Date: 23 Aug 17 - 03:50 AM

2-6 heave Was the standard call during my time in RN 1960`s


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 24 Aug 17 - 12:09 PM

Just found this showing the numbers of gun crew members,not sure how it relates to the origin of the 2-6-heave call number 6 being likely to be little more than a child.

See this link to see full article.

http://www.stvincent.ac.uk/heritage/1797/victory/guns.html


                                                                               The gun was served by a six man crew - known by numbers to make orders easier in the noise of battle. Number 1 was the Gun Captain who aimed and fired the gun. Number 2 used a long spike to turn and raise the barrel; Number 3 loaded the gun and rammed the shot and powder home. Number 4 sponged out the gun, ensuring that no burning powder or waste was left to cause premature ignition of the new charge. Number 5 worked opposite 2 to move the gun whilst Number 6 was the smallest and youngest member of the crew - the powder monkey. Often young boys, perhaps only 10 or 12 years old, the powder monkey collected the gunpowder charges from the magazine deep in the hold of the ship and carried it to the gun.

The whole 3.5 tonnes was now run out, with the crew straining on the carriage ropes to pull the gun muzzle through the gun port in the side of the ship. When the gun came to bear on the target, the gun captain pulled the lanyard to the flint lock. As the flint scraped across the pan a shower of sparks ignited the fine powder - which ignited the main charge and the gun fired, ejecting its iron ball with a forward velocity of some 500 metres per second. The gun would recoil backwards at some 2 metres per second, and the process of cleaning and reloading began again.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Tyro Sailor
Date: 24 Aug 17 - 08:33 PM

A gun with a six-man crew would, I think, have been a fairly small one - maybe a 12- or 18-pounder. Larger guns (24- or 32-pounders) had bigger crews of up to 12 men - maybe numbers 2 & 6 were those who led the heaving of the gun back into its firing position (it would have needed a lot more than just the two of them, unless the ship was heeling to their side).


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 25 Aug 17 - 04:14 AM

If you follow the link the full article describes a gun deck on HMS Victory.
The extract refers to the 32 pounder guns.
So far this is the best description I have found online.
There may be better descriptions elsewhere which I have not found yet.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 25 Aug 17 - 05:11 AM

Wasn't there a landing gun that had a ten man crew?

1 Corporal
2-6 on the rope
7-10 on the wheel(s)

Big deal at Ladysmith?


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 26 Aug 17 - 09:59 PM

At the risk of fueling off-topic discussion... :o

A cursory Google search suggests that the/an earlier version of the numbered chant was "1, 2, 6, heave." There are references to this in books between 1925 and the 1950s.

Time to invent a new folklore to accommodate the "1"?


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Aug 17 - 09:07 AM

Has this any relevance to chanteys? Just asking!


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 27 Aug 17 - 09:38 AM

Is the discussion about 2-6-heave of relevance to shanties?
Since the thread is about R N shanty usage, yes.
It is widely accepted that the RN rarely if ever used shanties,they used something else in their place 2-6-heave which is in use today as one example.
The discussion is about the origin of the call,ie did it originate in the RN or some where else,it also being in common use.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 24 Apr 19 - 09:02 PM

A fuller examination of Smyth: Calling-v-singing-v-stepping (see above.)

BAND. The musicians of a band are called idlers in large ships.... ;)

BOATSWAIN. The officer who superintends the boat-sails, ship's-sails, rigging, canvas, colours, anchors, cables and cordage, committed to his charge. He ought also to take care that the blocks and running ropes are regularly placed to answer the purposes for which they are intended.... He pipes the hands to their several duties, seeing that they attend his call, and ought to be in every way a thorough seaman Although termed boatswain, the boats are not in his charge.... The boatswain is the officer of the first lieutenant; he gives no order, but reports defects, and carries out the will of his superior.

BOATSWAIN'S MATE. Is an assistant to the boatswain, who had the peculiar command of the long-boat. He summons the watch or crew by his whistle, and during his watch looks to the decks, and has peculiar calls for "grog," "'bout ship," "pipe to breakfast," " sweepers," &c.

BRING-TO AN ANCHOR, To. To let go the anchor in the intended port. "All hands bring ship to an anchor!" The order by which the people are summoned for that duty, by the pipes of the boatswain and his mates.

CALL. A peculiar silver pipe or whistle, used by the boatswain and his mates to attract attention, and summon the sailors to their meals or duties by various strains, each of them appropriated to some particular purpose, such as hoisting, heaving, lowering, veering away, belaying, letting go a tackle-fall, sweeping, &c. This piping is as attentively observed by sailors, as the bugle or beat of drum is obeyed by soldiers. The coxswains of the boats of French ships of war are supplied with calls to "in bow oar," or "of all," "oars," &c.

CABOOSE, Camboose, Coboose. The cook-room or kitchen of merchantmen on deck; a diminutive substitute for the galley of a man-of-war. It is generally furnished with cast-iron apparatus for cooking.

CAPSTAN-STEP (See Step of the Capstan.) The men march round to the tune of a fiddle or fife, and the phrase of excitement is, "Step out, lads, make your feet tell."

DRUMMER. The marine who beats the drum, and whose pay is equivalent to that of a private of fourteen years' standing.

FIFER AND FIDLER. Two very important aids in eliciting exact discipline; for hoisting, warping, and heaving at the capstan in proper time; rated a second-class petty officer styled " musician," pay £30, 8s. per annum.

OFF SHE GOES! Means run away with the purchase fall Move to the tune of the fifer. The first move when a vessel is launched.

PIPE. ...Also, a peculiar whistle for summoning the men to duty, and directing their attention by its varied sounds. (See Call.)

SHANTY. A small hut on or near a beach.

SONG. The call of soundings by the leadsman in the channels. Songs are also used to aid the men in keeping time when pulling on a rope, where a fife is not available. They are very common in merchant ships. The whalers have an improvised song when cutting docks in the ice in Arctic seas.

STAMP AND GO! The order to step out at the capstan, or with hawsers, topsail-haliards, &c., generally to the fife or fiddle.

STEP OUT, To. To move along simultaneously and cheerfully with a tackle-fall, &c.

TRUMPETER. A petty officer and musician stationed on the poop, to sound salutes and various evolutionary orders.

[Smyth, Adm. W.H , The Sailor's Word Book: An Alphabetical Digest of Nautical Terms, (London: Blackie and Son, 1867)]


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 25 Apr 19 - 03:00 PM

So, if there were musician ratings by the 1870s there would have to be an official songbook... and stuff management didn't approve of:

The Royal Naval Song Book
Tucker, W.G., Purday, C.H., London: Royal Navy, Routledge and Sons, c.1870

William Guise-Tucker (He's one of those Blue Light fellows)

The Royal Naval song book

"Mostly arr. for voices in four parts, in score. "This book is issued to the Royal Navy in the hope that it will introduce some better songs into the Service" [Preface.]" - By authority of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty.

After centuries of usage Salve Regina and the like had been totally banned and all the old songbooks burned. The place went to crap for a century or so. Enter the Blue Lights.

Big difference between an English Navy and a British Navy.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Teribus
Date: 25 Apr 19 - 03:16 PM

No difference at all between an English Navy and a British Navy, neither of which ever existed, since the time of Alfred the Great of Wessex there has only ever been a Royal Navy.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 25 Apr 19 - 03:46 PM

You're going to need more than one crayon for this.

One may call & sing in "English" but not "Royal" or "British." Stepping has no language.

Catholic psalms on a Quaker merchantman. How long can you tread water?


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 25 Apr 19 - 05:29 PM

SWEEPS. Large oars used on board ships of war in a calm, either to assist the rudder in turning them round, or to propel them ahead when chasing in light winds. Brigs of 386 tons have been swept at 3 knots or more.
(see Boatswain's Mate & Call above.)

On French vessels sweepers were the chiourme. Looks like “choir” but traces back to the Latin celeusma. In Southern France they were likely “galley slaves.” The Atlantic side not so much.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Lighter
Date: 26 Apr 19 - 10:52 AM

"The Royal Naval Song Book" was issued "By authority of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty" and included "appropriate music from the most popular composers."

Chanteys? One doubts it.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 26 Apr 19 - 02:03 PM

"Chanteys? One doubts it."

SHANTY. A small hut on or near a beach. (No "chantey" t'all.)

"... in the hope that it will introduce some better songs into the Service."

A senior Blue Light officer like Tucker would be all over the forebitters too. We do know sailors borrowed heavily from popular music: Heart of Oak; running with, and getting out of the way of, bulgines &c. That said, Tucker's glossary suggests instrumentals for the fife. Fiddlers had options.

Seems our boy went after the merchant fleet and general public as well:

"Everybody's song-book: a collection of nearly two hundred popular and national songs, duets, trios, rounds, and harmonized airs, set to English words."
[Same authors and publishers as before.]


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Ged Fox
Date: 29 Apr 19 - 03:49 AM

I asked in a less appropriate thread, and received no reply, "Did they sing shanties in the fighting navies of other nations than Britain?"


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Apr 19 - 04:26 AM

Ged Fox,

The custom of applying the practice of singing chanties to work tasks at sea seems to have been nearly exclusively confined to merchant vessels, particularly square-rigged ones with mostly Anglophone crews. (So, the answer is no -- neither Britain nor other nations's navies.***)

That isn't to say *a* chanty was *never* sung by *anyone* on a navy vessel, but that the custom seems to to have been adopted. I personally don't think that has as much to do with lack of need (e.g. the argument that there were too many crew on a military vessel to necessitate applying chanties to work), as much as with the work-culture in such vessels and what was deemed appropriate.

As discussed, some forms of vocalization may have been viewed as more or less appropriate and even customary in the military vessels, but these don't match the generic form of chanties.

On the other hand, chanties were sung from dawn to dusk at various jobs on the waterfront, with greater frequency than they were sung at sea. Think of that work environment, and the people who were involved, and then just shift this work-space to sea (merchant ship). Singing chanties was a practice shared across this work environment/community, whether its members were on land or at sea.

On the other other hand, if singing chanties was not part of the discipline of being in the military on land, then why expect it in the military environment on the sea? To expect that, I think, is to make an error of assigning "on the sea" as a high-level defining feature of chanty genre. I suggest this was rather more incidental.

***Footnote: I'm not talking about latter-day practice of singing a chanty during leisure on navy ships.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Apr 19 - 04:27 AM

typo, should read:
That isn't to say *a* chanty was *never* sung by *anyone* on a navy vessel, but that the custom seems NOT to have been adopted.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 29 Apr 19 - 12:11 PM

Tucker: "...Songs are also used to aid the men in keeping time when pulling on a rope, where a fife is not available. They are very common in merchant ships." Which is not...

Gibb: "The custom of applying the practice of singing chanties to work tasks at sea seems to have been nearly exclusively confined to merchant vessels, particularly square-rigged ones with mostly Anglophone crews.

Sorting by "English vocals only" was the personal preference of 20th century, White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant folk singers. See also Forrest, Martial &c.

Switch to Spanish or French or Catholic and the etymology/glossary changes like day and night. The rigging is deaf.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 29 Apr 19 - 12:13 PM

Ged: Hanging Johnny - sung by a Union African-American pulling crew during the Yank's Civil War (see Capt. T.W. Higginson.) A celeusma militaire was also one of the first pieces of martial music composed in the North American colonies but I've not been able to track it down.

Salve Regina was a standard in Catholic navies for many centuries.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 29 Apr 19 - 12:39 PM

Tucker: "FIFER AND FIDLER. Two very important aids in eliciting exact discipline; for hoisting, warping, and heaving at the capstan in proper time..."

Gibb: "On the other other hand, if singing chanties was not part of the discipline of being in the military on land, then why expect it in the military environment on the sea?"

Sailors & Marines: The fife, drum, trumpet, march or cadence serves on land as it does on deck. In light boats, landing parties &c the distinction is academic. The infantry fiddle concept however...


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Apr 19 - 01:38 PM

"Sailors & Marines: The fife, drum, trumpet, march or cadence serves on land as it does on deck."

With regard to the Royal Navy from the start of the 18th Century to present:

Fife and Drum - Possibly but only on ships of the line with a full company of Royal Marines.

Drum - Definitely as it was normal on Royal Navy ships from Frigates to Ships of the Line "To Beat to Quarters" prior to going into action.

Trumpet - Never heard of it in days of sail or steam. Bugle yes but only after the age of sail and again only on ships the size of Cruisers or above. On smaller ships the bosun's call was and is still used.

Drill: Marching, the cadence thing is very American and I have never come across it. Naval drill is completely different to that used by the Army. Royal Marines [Who are part of the Royal Navy] adapt their drill to something that looks similar to that used by the Army but is "silent" in comparison. You do not teach people to stamp about on any vessel with either wooden or steel decks. The salutes used by personnel in the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Army are all different due to the practicalities imposed by life at sea on a ship.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 30 Apr 19 - 12:43 AM

Trumpet - Never heard of it in days of sail or steam.

Natural or baroque trumpet calls - bugle calls, same-same.

U.S. Marine Corps Buglers: U.S. Army Bugle Calls - U.S. Navy Bugle Calls, Emerson Records 7177, 7", 78rpm, 1916.
U.S. Navy Bugle Calls (1964) Part I
Royal Navy and Royal Marines Bugle Calls Part 1


"...You do not teach people to stamp about on any vessel with either wooden or steel decks."

It's called stepping. The working shanty is a dance form.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Apr 19 - 03:05 AM

Very interesting Phil but it does not alter a word of what was said in the previous post. The thread is, according to the title, about what was done, or not done, in the Royal Navy. That being the case what was done in the US Navy is of no relevance.

"Natural or baroque trumpet calls - bugle calls, same-same"

True but in all your references they refer to "Bugles" not Trumpets. And all refer to days of Steam which is in accord with -

"Bugle yes but only after the age of sail and again only on ships the size of Cruisers or above."

Bugle calls 1916; A Bugle call for repel aircraft; certainly NOT days of sail.

Now onto the practice of stamping feet in the military:

- The Army do it
- The Royal Navy DO NOT [Days of sail most sailors worked barefoot]
- The Royal Marines by movement appear to but in fact DO NOT

"It's called stepping. The working shanty is a dance form."

Never taught "stepping", never in fact heard of it, and if indeed the working shanty IS a dance form then that might provide yet another explanation as to why there were no shanty's used as working songs in the Royal Navy.

There was a call on the bosun's pipe "Hand's to skylark and dance" sounded during periods known as "Make and Mends" - it signalled permission to act on deck freely as they wished. It was their only opportunity for leisure time in the open air.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 30 Apr 19 - 04:31 AM

The word choice of trumpet; applying the fife to a capstan cadence &c are Smyth's definitions not mine. He wasn't a Yank.

Yes, musicianship is still a skilled trade and still less likely to be found on smaller vessels, navy or merchant. Song (not shanty) was once a Royal Navy alternative to the fife according to Smyth.

"Never taught "stepping", never in fact heard of it,...

Think Smyth's time in, not yours.

IMO Ged Fox's question isn't so far off topic it needs another thread. Got enough of that to contend with already.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 30 Apr 19 - 01:18 PM

Marching-Stepping-Pacing to cadence.

Step— A pace; progression made in walking by the removal of the foot. Hence to step out means to lengthen the pace, or to march quicker; to step back, to take one pace to the rear.

Quick step.– A military step of 30 inches, with a cadence (number of steps per minute) of 116 per minute, in the British army. It constitutes what is technically called quick time in marching. At that rate, a small body of troops can march 3:1 miles an hour without halting, but it would be better to calculate the rate of marching for infantry at 2-1/2 miles an hour.

In the German army, the quick step is 31-1/2 inches, with a cadence of 112 per minute; in the Austrian 29-1/2 inches, with a cadence of 115 to 130 per minute; in the Italian, 29-1/2 inches, with a cadence of 120 per minute. In the French army it was increased, in 1875, from 25-1/2 inches to 29-1/2 inches, and the cadence raised from 111 to 115 per minute.
[A Military Dictionary, 1878]

Musica mundana; musica humana; musica quae in quibusdam constituta est instrumentis.

It's how humans navigate wet or dry. Dunno about the “official” Royal or U.S. Navy step dimensions but sweeping or pulling at a certain “pace” or BPM does about the same thing at sea.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Apr 19 - 01:58 PM

Oh absolutely Phil, we were taught the Quick Step on the Parade Ground - ROFLMAO. Actually I think the order you move off to is "Quick March" or "Slow March" - Never ordered to "Step Out" or "Step Back".

RN pace is 30 inches and the rate (IIRC) is 120 to the minute, Slow March the rate drops to 65 to the minute. Rifles, Gurkas, Light Infantry march at 140 to the minute.

"It's how humans navigate wet or dry." - Huh???

As for pulling a whaler or a cutter at sea, there is no set stroke rate - far too many variables, the rule of thumb was you did it as expeditiously as possible.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 30 Apr 19 - 06:56 PM

...we were taught the Quick Step on the Parade Ground - ROFLMAO."

One is the center of one's own universe. Smyth served in the mid-1800s. Your perspective, glossary &c are a bit off for him (see trumpet above.)


"It's how humans navigate wet or dry." - Huh???

Marching (land navigation,) orienteering, sweeping, stepping to cadence = proceleusmatic maths. Musical algebra.


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 30 Apr 19 - 08:14 PM

Just an observation GUEST,Phil d'Conch but looking up Admiral William Henry Smyth (1788 - 1865) it would appear that he started out in the Merchant Service with the East India Company and landed in the RN by accident of the Admiralty buying the ship he was serving in. He also seems to have spent a great deal of his service career engaged in Hydrographic Survey work. Leaving the navy to engage in more academic pursuits in 1846. His promotion to flag rank came through advancement in the retired list. Most of his time in the navy were spent in the Indian Ocean and Far East, briefly in home waters followed by an extensive period in the Mediterranean (His nickname was "Mediterranean Smyth). That is a very brief sketch of the man's career and from it we can glean the following:

1. His reminiscences would be a mixture of Merchant service and Royal Navy. The terms you laboriously quoted previously demonstrate this admirably as they are a jumble of both. A Boatswain, Bosun by the way even in Smyth's time was a "Warranted" Officer, not a "Commissioned" Officer.

2. His service in ships of the line was limited and during the entire time of his service at sea he would never have known a single onshore training establishment, he would never have seen sailors "marching" as training was all done on the job at sea. I would imagine that it would be very difficult if not impossible to march round a sailing ship under way at sea.

According to the Army, the Navy doesn't March - They amble with style. Marching has got nothing whatsoever to do with "navigation" (land or otherwise) or "orienteering". Your references to marching or "stepping" only gives speed - you need more than speed to navigate.

Back on the subject of the thread - No the Royal Navy did not use or sing SHANTYS to work their ships ( If that spelling of the word is good enough for Stan Hugill it's good enough for me).


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 01 May 19 - 02:51 AM

Observer: "No the Royal Navy did not use or sing SHANTYS to work their ships"

Meanwhile back in 1867: "...The men march round to the tune of a fiddle or fife..."

"Songs are also used to aid the men in keeping time when pulling on a rope, where a fife is not available."

Royal Navy sailors marching and hauling to shanties... no! Fife, fiddle and a capella songs and tunes... yes!

And the "official" difference according to Hoyle and Hugill is...?


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Subject: RE: Chanteys in Royal Navy?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 01 May 19 - 02:01 PM

Meanwhile back in 1967? - So two years after yer man "Mediterranean Smyth" had popped his clogs and 21 years after he had left the Royal Navy.

But these are the "observations" of that "Light Blue"(??) Officer William Guise-Tucker who was a Naval Chaplain. He served in that capacity for 36 years serving as follows HMS Revenge, HMS Albion and HMS Ceylon; at HM Dockyard, Malta; in Canada; at RNH Haslar; and Greenwich Hospital, London. So in 36 years he only served in only three ships - not much seatime over the course of 36 years, the last six being Chaplain of the Fleet.

The logic normally used in describing someone's service is to list their assignment in chronological order first to last so Back in 1867 would mean yer man Guise-Tucker had been ashore for 11 or 13 years.

In your reading Phil, why don't you read up and study the ship's complements of the period in question - one thing you will find is that there were no naval musicians, the only Band the Royal Navy has ever had has been that of the Royal Marine Band Service started in 1903 - but that information has already been given either in this thread or the ladies singing sea shantys.

There was also an earlier mention of these musicians being referred to as "idlers". The term actually referred to anyone who served but did not stand watches. Individual Captains could bring anyone they wanted onto the ship under their command, as they after all would be paying for them and their keep - these were supernumeraries and not part of the ship's complement and would be the exception rather than the rule.


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