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1 21st April 02:39
alex scott-bayfield
External User
Posts: 1
Default concertinas & shanties

I am a sailor and a beginner English concertina player and so am
extremely interested in learning how to play sea shanties on the
concertina (as well as desperately trying to improve my playing
generally!) I am also shortly to depart on a long sailing trip and was
v impressed by the expertise laid out on this subject previously! I was
wondering if anyone knows if there were any books/manuals/etc which have
sea shanties in them which I could take with me to practice! Any
suggestions would be gratefully received!

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: 18 June 2003 01:38
Subject: SML: Re: concertinas & shanties

Really-Reply-To: (Donald Nichols) (Donald Nichols)
Really-From: (DoN. Nichols)

And the cheap German concertina which inspired the Anglo was
more likely to have been to sea than a quality English construction
concertina for several reasons:

1) The English system, and to a lesser extent the English-made
Anglos were well beyond the reach of the average sailor.
(Actually, among the free reed instruments, the most common one
based on research in logbooks by people on the staff at the
Mystic Seaport Museum was the single-row melodion -- not that
different from the anglo, actually, other than shape.)

2) The conditions on shipboard tended to assure that no concertina
was ever used for more than a single trip. (It was falling
apart by the end of the trip.) Sailors would then pick up a new
cheap German concertina for the next trip.

3) The anglo system -- or the melodion -- are much simpler to
convince to produce something resembling accompaniment to a
song in untutored hands. And who among the class of sailors could afford tutoring?

Which was originally an expensive music-hall instrument mostly,
and *very* unlikely to appear in the hands of a sailor -- unless perhaps
it was stolen. :-) But I can testify that in hands like Bob Webb's, it
does a wonderful job.

Agreed! However -- not all work was done to shanties. Some
Navys did not allow the use of shanties at all -- but they did often
provide a fiddler sitting on the head of the capstan as the sailors were
trundling around it. Pulling up anchor is a *long* process, and it
helped to keep the sailors in step and at the same speed. (Of course,
military ships typically had a lot of spare hands, because they were
needed for fighting, which reduced the need for shanties -- which made
it easier for fewer hands to do a given job, by coordinating the effort.
(I remember a personal example of this, when I was one of a group on a
large gaff-rigged ship which once had been used for laying a
transatlantic cable. There were a group of us attempting to start the
gaff and sail on its way up the mast, and we were having difficulty,
until a friend started a shanty, at which point it seemed to float up
the mast.

Note also that the shantyman *did* have a job -- other than the
singing. He was the one who was holding a slip knot loose around the
line which was being pulled in. When the line was as full in as it
(could be)/(needed to be), it was necessary for almost every body to let
go of it, and the closest hand to belay it to hold it in position. If
not for the slip-knot, the line would have gone sailing back through the
block, abrading the skin from the hands of that one poor individual.
Stan Hugil (one 'l' or two -- I *should* check :-) told of a conflict
between two who wanted to be shantyman aboard one ship, and one greased
the slipknot so the other would appear to not be performing his job properly.

Considering what some of the sailors would use to make music
(look up fu-fu band sometime in Hugil's masterwork), anything which
would produce reliable notes somewhat on pitch were a great benefit.

That is what matters, after all.

Squeeze On, DoN. --
Email: <> | Voice (all times): (703) 938-4564
(too) near Washington D.C. |
--- Black Holes are where God is dividing by zero ---
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2 21st April 02:40
External User
Posts: 1
Default concertinas & shanties

If you want a good collection done by someone who was a real
shantyman on board sailing vessels (and who died just a few years ago),
get _Shanties of the Seven Seas_ by Stan Hugil. It was re-printed
(during his life) by Mystic Seaport, and sold in the Museum store.

Hmm ... you're in the UK by your e-mail address. Stan was
living (and teaching) in Aberdovy Wales at the "Outward Bound" school,
and I would think that his book would be available there as well -- and
perhaps in other Sea museums with tall ships.

Most of the songs present in the book have the written music
with them.

Other than that -- I think that you'll need to depend on those
who live in the UK.

My wife just pointed out that there is a recent Roy Palmer book
on shanties, though she does not remember the precise title. The other
books by him that I have have not too many songs, but they are well
do***ented and well presented.

Best of luck, DoN. --
Email: <> | Voice (all times): (703) 938-4564
(too) near Washington D.C. |
--- Black Holes are where God is dividing by zero ---
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3 21st April 08:04
ivo van der putten
External User
Posts: 1
Default concertinas & shanties


Ivo van der Putten

"DoN. Nichols" <> schreef in bericht

Indeed an excellent book but very hard to get . .

You may want to look at my website for some text and notations of shanty songs: >> Shanty >> Zoet- en Zoutwaterliedjes parts 1,2 and 3.
These are pdf files.


Ivo van der Putten
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