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Shallow Brown

First line:
Shaller Brown you're goin' ter leave me
completed 17 December 1910; No 3 of Sea Chanty Settings
author of text

Shallow Brown was composed between August and 17 December 1910 and is based on a sea-chanty collected from the singing of John Perring of Dartmouth by H E Piggott and Grainger on 18 January 1908. In Grainger’s words: ‘[Perring] was a remarkably gifted deep-sea sailor songster and said that this song was supposed to be sung by a woman standing on the quay to Shallow Brown as his ship was weighing anchor. Perring did not know why Brown was called “Shallow”—“unless it was that he was shallow in his heart”, as he added. My setting aims to convey a suggestion of wafted, wind-borne, surging sounds heard at sea.’ Although a woman’s voice would make sense to the story, chanties are almost always the prerogative of men singing on board a ship. This is one of Grainger’s most powerful settings, evoking as it does the wildness of the sea and the intensity of human loss; one can almost feel the spray of the ocean and taste the salt water. Grainger is said to have swooned with intense excitement when he played the shimmering accompaniment on the piano and on one particular occasion it caused a female admirer to faint at his feet.

from notes by Barry Peter Ould © 1996


Grainger: Jungle Book & other choral works


Track 1 on CDH55433 [6'04]

Track-specific metadata for CDH55433 track 1

Recording date
20 January 1996
Recording venue
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Hyperion usage
  1. Grainger: Jungle Book & other choral works (CDA66863)
    Disc 1 Track 1
    Release date: May 1996
    Deletion date: December 2010
    Superseded by CDH55433
  2. Grainger: Jungle Book & other choral works (CDH55433)
    Disc 1 Track 1
    Release date: February 2011
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