Music Of The Waters - online book

Sailors' Chanties, Songs Of The Sea, Boatmen's, Fishermen's,
Rowing Songs, & Water Legends with lyrics & sheet music

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Music of the Waters.              257
one note in Russia, are attributed by many to the state of serfdom, of no more real value in regard to art than so many organ pipes, since the singers or players can be little more than machines, comprising each a few select notes, whose owners are fit for small other service. However this may be, the Russian voice, be it free or slave, is universally allowed to be most melodious, and, like most northern countries, it would be impossible to overrate the freshness and vigour of its song melody. The sadness of it is seldom tinctured with languor; the sweetness has something in it that braces as well as charms the sense. This may even be remarked when the minor key pre­dominates, as it does so largely in Russian music.
I have dwelt somewhat at length on the national qualities of Russian music, since its music of the sea is largely composed of those popular " lieder " sung on shore. Thus the Russian sailor at his work will sing, not some quaint verses set to still quainter melody, as our blue-jackets do ; but the very songs that at that time are the most in vogue in his own country. These songs are used, as all sea-songs are, to give encouragement to the men, and to promote unity of labour. I asked a very intelligent Russian sailor if complaints of their food on ships or captain-were not often sung in rhymed verse on board their ships, as is the case with our men, and he said, " No, they don't do it, but they might." They have rye, of black bread—which, however, they prefer to wheaten bread. They drink " quass," a fermented drink made from the rye flour, and vodka, and they have meat twice a week.
In fact, the chanty as we understand it is not known amongst Russian tars, they have their songs (Pesni, they call them) and their musicians on board, but of the im­promptu verses, a propos of so little, set to the original tunes, that so delight the hearts of most sailors, they know but little. The few that would come under the heading of "chanties," that I have heard, are so immeasurably superior to these as a rule, that they are worthy of a better

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