Get Some Shanty In Your Life

June 14, 2019 - By 

Past and Present – The Partington Singers and The Roaring Trowmen

When I was young I was a member of ‘The Partington Family Singers’ of which my dear brother Dave was the youngest member. We didn’t sing together for many years after we left school, until our dad (who taught us everything we know about singing) sadly died in 2014 and we sung together at his funeral. We have been doing our own singing ventures thought the years, and one of Dave’s was being a core member of The Roaring Trowmen, a wonderful Sea Shanty group who have played all the major British Folk Festivals.

When I got more involved in ChoirCommunity it became apparent that we were looking for more pieces for men and one day Dave (a keen long distance cyclist) stopped in for large amounts of cake on the way to a place many miles away by bike – the penny dropped!  His group have two albums out, and by chance also had audios of each voice on its own, so I started trawling through, transcribing (with the help of Kate Gessey and Doug Waller) and making them available for you to sing.  I had fun taking Dave’s bass parts and then arranging a couple for mixed voices, so got to sing with my brother again (even though he was not even in the building).

The shanties for men are labelled TTBB (tenor 1 & 2 bass 1& 2) and mostly the parts do work from high to low, but Douglas Watts (who with Sam Burns has also added to the collection) says they really are just ‘parts for men’ and don’t really follow the more  conventional rules of who sings high and who sings low.  Looking at them on a score, sometimes the parts feel a little curious, but these are the real deal – parts made up in the back room of a pub and really true to the aural tradition, so there is no need to be precious with them. They are not set in stone and are to be played with and changed as often as you see fit.  We hope you enjoy them.

Have a look through the selection here and let us know what you think! (also try and work out who is the same person in the images above)

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