Trebled Seas combines three popular 19th-century sea shanties into an epic voyage on the high seas. Cape Cod Girls, originating from North America, is traditionally thought of as a short-drag shanty used in activities such as raising sails. Its lyrics vary from version to version between “heave”, “haul”, and “bound” away, depending on the physical activity required. Jolly Sailor Bold first appears in a collection of sailing songs out of London, but has many similarities to the Irish ballad The Banks of Claudy. While not used as a working song, its minor tonality and association to sailing folklore makes for an interesting middle point along the journey. This setting contains a newly written verse warning of the dangers of sirens, mythical creatures known to sing to lure sailors to their doom. Lastly, Leave Her, Johnny is a pump shanty, usually one of the last activities done as a ship docks. In these types of pieces, sailors sing to complain about the rough conditions aboard, knowing they are soon to leave and will face no punishment.
While sea shanties have been popular repertoire for tenor/bass ensembles, there has been a distinct lack of arranging for treble choirs. Historical research is discovering more and more evidence that while piracy and sailing was male-dominated, female captains like Anne Bonny, Mary Read, Zheng Yi Sao and others made their mark on the high seas. This piece is dedicated to the women that his-tory has forgotten.
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