Article " Pirate Song" by Henry F. Gilbert

Pirate Song, 1921, by Henry F. Gilbert, 1886-1928.
Pirate Song, 1921. Henry F. Gilbert, 1886-1928. Music Division, Library of Congress. Call number: M1621.G

Gilbert's Pirate Song was first published by the Wa-Wan Press, which was founded by composer Arthur Farwell in 1901. The purpose of the Press, named for an Omaha Indian ceremony meaning "to sing to someone," was to publish American works that broke with European tradition. Gilbert worked alongside Farwell in promoting a distinctly American style. Gilbert also advocated for the use of humor in compositions, and the Pirate Song falls into that category of work.

The present edition was issued by the H. W. Gray Co. in 1921. Gilbert adapted words from Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island with added stanzas by Alice C. Hyde. The opening baritone solo, "Fifteen men on a dead man's chest," elicits the first of many pirate responses, "Yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum." The men's chorus sings in unison throughout except for the penultimate dominant-seventh chord at the end of the work. The baritone solo, on the other hand, is quite elaborate and vocally demanding with an occasional high F and G. The melodic line is also challenging with frequent tri-tones and unexpected chromatic turns. The piano harmonies contain half-diminished chords and a number of dissonances, not the traditional diatonic, triadic harmonies of most sea shanties. Archibald T. Davison, conductor of the Harvard University Glee Club, wrote to Gilbert on May 24, 1923, "[If I] had known earlier that you disapproved of our performance of the Pirate Song, I should have tried to get you to come to a rehearsal to show us how to do it."[1] Since the choral parts are so simple, one can only surmise that the baritone soloist might have encountered some difficulties.

Notes

  1. Archibald T. Davison, letter to Henry Gilbert, May 24, 1923. The Gilbert Papers, MSS 35, Irving S. Gilmore Library, Yale University (Box 31/48), cited in Sherill V. Martin, Henry F. Gilbert: A Bio-bibliography (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004), p. 100. [back to article]

About this Item

Title
" Pirate Song" by Henry F. Gilbert
Subject Headings
-  Gilbert, Henry F. B. (Henry Franklin Belknap), 1868-1928
-  Progressive Era to New Era (1900-1929)
-  Songs and Music
-  Parlor and Concert Stage
-  Articles
Genre
article
Online Format
image
online text
Description
Article. The present edition was issued by the H. W. Gray Co. in 1921. Gilbert adapted words from Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island with added stanzas by Alice C. Hyde. The opening baritone solo, "Fifteen men on a dead man's chest," elicits the first of many pirate responses, "Yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum." The men's chorus sings in unison throughout except for the penultimate dominant-seventh chord at the end of the work. The baritone solo, on the other hand, is quite elaborate and vocally demanding with an occasional high F and G. The melodic line is also challenging with frequent tri-tones and unexpected chromatic turns. The piano harmonies contain half-diminished chords and a number of dissonances, not the traditional diatonic, triadic harmonies of most sea shanties. Archibald T. Davison, conductor of the Harvard University Glee Club, wrote to Gilbert on May 24, 1923, "[If I] had known earlier that you disapproved of our performance of the Pirate Song, I should have tried to get you to come to a rehearsal to show us how to do it."[1] Since the choral parts are so simple, one can only surmise that the baritone soloist might have encountered some difficulties.
Additional Metadata Formats
METSXML Record

Rights & Access

Rights assessment is your responsibility.

The Library of Congress is providing access to these materials for educational and research purposes and makes no warranty with regard to their use for other purposes. The written permission of the copyright owners and/or other rights holders (such as holders of publicity and/or privacy rights) is required for distribution, reproduction, or other use of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use or other statutory exemptions. There may be content that is protected as "works for hire" (copyright may be held by the party that commissioned the original work) and/or under the copyright or neighboring-rights laws of other nations.

Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permission ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item. Users should consult the bibliographic information that accompanies each item for specific information. This catalog data provides the details known to the Library of Congress regarding the corresponding items and may assist users in making independent assessments of the legal status of these items as related to their desired uses.

Items included here with the permission of the rights holders are indicated as such in the bibliographic record for each item.

In some cases, the Library was unable to identify a possible rights holder and has elected to place some of those items online as an exercise of fair use for strictly non-commercial educational uses. The Library of Congress would like to learn more about these materials and would like to hear from individuals or institutions that have any additional information or know of their history. Please contact:  Performing Arts Reading Room.

Suggested credit line: Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress is providing access to these materials for educational and research purposes and makes no warranty with regard to their use for other purposes. The written permission of the copyright owners and/or other rights holders (such as holders of publicity and/or privacy rights) is required for distribution, reproduction, or other use of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use or other statutory exemptions. There may be content that is protected as "works for hire" (copyright may be held by the party that commissioned the original work) and/or under the copyright or neighboring-rights laws of other nations.

Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permission ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item. Users should consult the bibliographic information that accompanies each item for specific information. This catalog data provides the details known to the Library of Congress regarding the corresponding items and may assist users in making independent assessments of the legal status of these items as related to their desired uses.

Items included here with the permission of the rights holders are indicated as such in the bibliographic record for each item.

In some cases, the Library was unable to identify a possible rights holder and has elected to place some of those items online as an exercise of fair use for strictly non-commercial educational uses. The Library of Congress would like to learn more about these materials and would like to hear from individuals or institutions that have any additional information or know of their history. Please contact:  Performing Arts Reading Room.

Suggested credit line: Library of Congress, Music Division.

More about Copyright and other Restrictions

For guidance about compiling full citations consult Citing Primary Sources.

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

" Pirate Song" by Henry F. Gilbert. Online Text. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200185386/. (Accessed April 25, 2017.)

APA citation style:

" Pirate Song" by Henry F. Gilbert. [Online Text] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200185386/.

MLA citation style:

" Pirate Song" by Henry F. Gilbert. Online Text. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200185386/>.