Studies In Folk-song And Popular Poetry

An Extensive Investigation Into The Sources And Inspiration Of National Folk Song

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2                     AMERICAN SEA SONGS.
and tauten up the tacks and sheets by a pull re­quiring unison of effort; and the cadence, at once long-drawn and vigorous, fills the air with a magic voice of the wind and the sea. It has the melopae-ism, if it may be so called, of the cadence of nature, and takes its note from the solitude and melancholy of the world, never more impressive than upon the vast plain of the sea. It has been heard from immemorial time, since the first oarsmen pulled to­gether along the coasts of the Indian Ocean, and possesses the same essence in whatever language it is uttered; and, while it has its practical purpose in securing unison and accentuation qf effort, it would be a mistake to suppose it without origin in and appeal to the innate impulse for the expression of sentiment in melody in the heart of man. Every sea captain knows, or used to know, how much more quickly the anchor came up, or how much more hearty were the pulls on the bowlines, if there were a full-lunged and melodious leader for the "shanty;" and his practical - minded mate would at times shout, when the chorus was going faintly and mechanically, " Sing out there, can't ye ? " with the same purpose with which he would exhort the men to take a stronger pull. Con­versely, a poor leader, or a second who could not or would not keep in proper time, was a decided injury to the effectiveness of the labor; and it
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III