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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282              Music of the Waters.
music (at least, in all that I have heard). The sailors' songs are mostly chromatic passages with but little variation. An occasional lowering or raising of a tone is sometimes unexpectedly introduced, in some a continued series of shakes produces an extraordinarily weird effect, especially as the minor key is here, as elsewhere, adopted.
To my idea their rowing-songs are decidedly the most pleasing of all; they have really a very charming effect. Musically speaking, they may not be very pretentious, but they may be taken as an indication of the style and cha­racter of the nation they belong to. They are sung on the " sampans," partially triangular-shaped boats, something like the salmon-fisher's punt used on certain British rivers. They are sculled, not what we should call rowed, by two or four men with very heavy oars, and they stand up, using their thighs to rest the oars upon. I give the notes of one of these as accurately as I can, the words I am unable to translate. A very distinguished member of the Japanese naval college, perfectly acquainted with our language, assures me they have no meaning, that is, none that can be translated :—
The chorus is to give emphasis to certain strokes, and is repeated alternately with the solo without any change of either words or tune.
Dice seem to play a very important part on board Japanese vessels. The dice-box is regarded as an essential. Perhaps I am wrong in giving the word as dice ; it may be rather the game of " go," which Miss Bird, in her book, " Unbeaten Tracks in Japan," refers to as being such a great resource in the country. It is played with 180 white discs cut from a species of cockle-shell, and 181 black ones

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