"Bothy" vs. "Chaumer" / Bothy ballads/ Shanty songs
- Hi, Jim:
Thanks for you comments on the sleeping arrangements and living
conditions of farm servants and domestic servants on farms, and how
they relate to the issue of high illegitimacy rates.
Can you elaborate a bit on the difference between "chaumer"
and "bothy" systems. I've not come across the word "chaumer"
before, but I assume it's Scots for "chamber". Does that imply the
servants slept in the house with the 'family' then?
I've come across the term "bothy ballad" before in my exploration of
folk music, but didn't know what it referred to. Here's a good
>>>Bothy ballads form a diverse category of songs generallyassociated with north east Scotland, the name deriving less from
their musical characteristics per se than the way of life that gave
rise to them. They represent the anonymous legacy of countless
itinerant agricultural labourers, seasonally hired during the 19th
century on farms around the region, and housed in cramped communal
bunkhouses, or bothies. Despite the hardships of such a life, many
bothy ballads are resolutely upbeat in tone, while others robustly
give vent to resentments at unjust employers. At a time when most
traditional music was played solo, the bothy bands that thereby made
their own entertainment of an evening also foreshadowed the mixed-
instrument format widely adopted by contemporary folk groups.<<<
Hmmm... I wonder if the "bothy bands" also played dance music for
events at which the male and female servants socialized with one
I've also been exploring 19th century Ontario folk songs, and there
seem to be strong parallels between the conditions that gave rise to
the Scottish bothy ballads and the "shanty songs" of the Ontario
logging camps. The shanty was the log cabin where the loggers slept.
I've purchased a couple CDs of these logging songs from the
Smithsonian's Global Sound' folk music archive, and I was surprised
to recognize many of the tunes as British ballad tunes. Then again,
a great many of the Ontario loggers were Scottish and Irish
immigrants (and English too). Logging was a winter occupation that
many farmers took on for extra income. Other more 'nomadic' men
shifted between logging in winter and sailing from the Great Lakes'
ports in summer (usually on ships carrying timber to England).
I'm very interested to see how Scottish and English cultural
patterns repeated themselves here in Canada and evolved to fit the
local economic situation.