And the Band Played On:                                              Hypotheses Concerning What Music Was Performed Near the Climax of the Titanic Disaster       
      

This study, in revised format for online publication, is a paper
presented at the October, 1999, meeting of the Southwest Regional
Chapter of the
American Musicological Society, Rice University, Houston

by

J. Marshall Bevil, Ph.D.

NOTE: As of 30 December, 2004, when the this paper was posted to the Internet, explanatory documentation regarding the computer-supported comparative
analysis used in this study was not available online. Availability of that material is projected for the spring of 2005.  Beginning 1 June, 2005, please

e-mail  me if supportive material appears to be missing. Defective MIDI (sound) links have been corrected.
Please let me know at once if there are problems with any other links.  -- JMB

Introduction

          The contention that the twentieth century really began in 1912 is not without merit. Rarely have there been concentrated within one year so many events signaling sweeping and permanent change. That year witnessed the rapid escalation of tensions that led to the outbreak of World War I only two years thereafter. The final curtain on both laissez-faire capitalism and government countenanced social Darwinism, the laying of the groundwork for the New Deal, and even the anticipation of the mid- and post mid-century civil rights movements were signaled by the tenor of the 1912 American presidential campaign. Finally, the assumption by Western society of humanity’s ultimate dominance over nature through technological accomplishment received its first major refutation in the loss of the Royal Mail Steamer Titanic and over 1,500 lives in the early hours of 15 April, 1912. In addition to explosively deflating the myth of human omnipotence, that disaster forced the West to consider at once the very worst ramifications of its rigid socio-economic class system.
        
It was inevitable that an event so patently significant as the sinking of the Titanic would give rise to many fanciful tales, half-truths, and inadvertent errors along with accurate accounts. Hence much of what was told must be viewed with a measure of skepticism, yet at the same time not necessarily dismissed out of hand, until all relevant data have received careful consideration.
           

Views Concerning Music That Was Played

          One of the earliest reports to become legend was that of the ship’s string ensemble playing “Nearer, My God, to Thee” shortly before the vessel sank. That account was no sooner in the news than the New York Times published an interview with Harold Bride, the ship’s junior wireless operator. In describing his final minutes onboard, Bride declared that the musicians were playing a piece called “Autumn” as he left the wireless shack and sought safety in one of the last available lifeboats. Bride further reported that the performers continued playing “Autumn” after he had abandoned ship. The Times assumed that Bride was referring to François Barthélémon’s hymn tune “Autumn,” the melody of which is shown immediately below, with a link ( ** ) to a MIDI file containing a harmonized arrangement for string ensemble.


                                                         
"Autumn"   **  <===  MIDI link (harmonized arrangement for string ensemble)




 
        There soon emerged two schools of thought concerning what music was played near the end. The larger one was comprised of those attracted to the idea of “Nearer, My God to Thee,” and it drew much of its sustenance from the enormous amount of sensationalist news reporting. The smaller and more staid faction, exemplified by an unsigned Times article of 21 April, subscribed to the view that the final work was “Autumn,” which has been a setting of several different hymns but never “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” The Times article stated that Bride’s job was testimony to his accurate perception and memory of small details and thus concluded that some of the other survivors who reported having heard “Nearer, My God to Thee” were mistaken. Interestingly, another unsigned article on the same page of the Times reported the widespread view in England that “Nearer, My God, to Thee” was played at the request of William T. Stead, an English writer and social reformer who was lost on the Titanic.
          While the majority of subsequent written accounts have declared the final piece to have been “Nearer, My God to Thee,” a few, most notably Walter Lord’s 1955 book, A Night to Remember, have given the nod to “Autumn.” Most recent studies either have avoided the issue altogether or have advanced the hypothesis of there having been no hymn settings played. The same long-standing dichotomy has been preserved in the many movies addressing the disaster. Most of them, including the 1997 box office hit, have shown the musicians playing “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” and one mid-century treatment featured, in its final scene, the singing of the hymn by a large chorus of those left on board. At least one cinematic treatment of the event has allied itself with the Times-Lord faction in letting “Autumn” provide the final strains.

 

Initial Assessment of Data

Multiple Settings of “Nearer, My God, to Thee”

          The matter of what was played goes far beyond the question of two hymns. First, in his 1986 book The Night Lives On, Lord drew on earlier accounts of the event in reporting that both American and British witnesses claimed to have heard a setting of “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” That, however, poses the question of which setting was heard. Sarah Flower Adams’s text was commonly sung to four different hymn tunes in 1912. As Lord pointed out, it is highly unlikely that multiple settings were played onboard the Titanic. The one that was most familiar to a majority of U.S. Americans and many Canadians, but far less well known by most British, was, and still is, Lowell Mason’s “Bethany," also titled “Excelsior” in some hymnals. That setting has come to be linked closely to the Titanic in the minds of many Americans.
        Two other settings -- “Horbury,” by John Dykes, and “Propior Deo,” by Sir Arthur Sullivan -- were associated mainly with the Anglican and British Methodist traditions, respectively, but they were not familiar to most Americans. More obscure is “Liverpool,” which was composed by John Roberts, a Welshman who also was known as Ieuan Gwyllt and who lived from 1822 to 1877. “Liverpool” appears to have been confined to the British Congregationalist tradition.

                                                                                  "Bethany"  **

  
 

                                                                                  "Horbury ** 

 

                                                                                  "Propior Deo"  **




                                                                                  "Liverpool" **

 

Meaning of Autumn

          A second problem concerns what Harold Bride meant by his reference to “Autumn.” While Lord followed the lead of the Times in A Night to Remember and wrote that the ensemble played the hymn tune of that name, he recanted his statement thirty-one years later, in The Night Lives On, and declared that what Bride probably heard was “Songe d’Automne” (see structural schematic and notation of principal thematic material, below),  which was written in 1908 by Archibald Joyce, an English composer of popular music. The hymn tune “Autumn” did not enjoy widespread popularity in Britain. However, Joyce’s plaintive waltz was still a major hit there in 1912 and often was referred to simply as “Autumn.” Survivors other than Bride reported that it was played on a number of occasions throughout the voyage. 

Structural schematic, "Songe d'automne" (not proportional to numbers of measures; see thematic material, below):

                                    ||:      
  A         :||:         B         :||         A         ||:            C            :|| /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\--
> ||        A          |               
         INTRODUCTION                                                                                                                                                        CODA  
||       
                                   
|<--------------------     WALTZ      ---------------------> | <------  TRIO   ------> |    Retransition   |      WALTZ    |
 
Key:  .........................  | c minor
 (tonic)                                                                | A-Flat Major (flat-sixth)| ........................| c-minor         (tonic reaffirmation)
             
                     ( c: V-i )                                                                                                                                      ( c: V-i )
                                                                                                                                               
Principal thematic material, “Songe d’automne” (see "Joyce, Archibald," in "References," below; also schematic, above):



        
 The waltz was not well known in the United States, although the hymn tune “Autumn” was fairly familiar, especially to American Episcopalians. From those facts, Lord concluded that Bride unwittingly misled the Times in his interview by citing the popular title of the waltz and that he very possibly did not even know the hymn tune. Further, Lord and others have argued that, even if Bride did know the hymn tune and had been referring to it, he would have followed the common procedure of naming either the first line or the title of an associated text rather than the title of the setting.
 

Further Assessment of Data

The Musicians

          Perhaps the first step in attempting to untangle this web of reports and opinions should be the taking of a look at the Titanic’s musicians. The eight players normally were divided into two groups. The smaller of those, a trio, played most often in the à la carte reception room. The remaining five played in various locations, most often either in the first-class lounge or near the first-class entrance to the boat deck. At times the groups would break up and move, individually or in pairs, from room to room or table to table. On those occasions they could augment their pay with tips, but they were expected to do so discretely. The earning of tips depended greatly on the musicians’ abilities to play requests that might or might not be for items in the standard 352-piece repertory that had to be completely memorized. Apart from being standouts at the request and improvisation games, the players were expected to blend as inconspicuously as possible into whatever situations in which they found themselves and provide background music for conversation, dining, card-playing, and other social activities.
          Bandmaster Wallace Henry (“Wally”) Hartley had been a choirboy in the Bethel Independent Methodist Church at Colne, in Lancashire, where his father was choirmaster. The younger Hartley later led the orchestras at Harrogate and Bridlington and had started making a name for himself as a composer and arranger of popular works. He was bandmaster on the Mauretania before assuming the same post on the Titanic.
          Not long after Hartley’s death, his personal friend and fellow musician, Elwane Moody, described a conversation in which Hartley purportedly said that, in the event of a calamity at sea, he and his colleagues would do all they could to keep the passengers calm by playing cheerful popular music but that, if the foundering of the vessel and great loss of life, including possibly his own, seemed imminent, he probably would play “Nearer, My God, to Thee.”

          A number of conclusions seem defensible in light of what is known about the musicians. Perhaps the most important one is that they would have been guided by their individual and collective sensitivities to the exigencies of the situation and therefore would have been reluctant to risk causing undue concern and possibly alarm by playing hymn tunes during most of the time in question. However, it also seems likely that the same sensitivity might have dictated a shift to music of an altogether different character once the fate of the hundreds left on board with no means of escape became obvious. At that point Hartley probably would have acted on his previously expressed sentiments. Further, the setting of “Nearer, My God to Thee” would have been one that he and probably at least one or two of the other musicians could have played with no written music. The most likely candidate from among the settings would be “Propior Deo.” Hartley’s family felt so strongly that such was what he and his colleagues played that they had the opening bars of that setting inscribed on his tombstone.
          Regarding who may have joined Hartley in such a finale, cellist John Wesley Woodward is the most likely. Woodward, like Hartley, was a Methodist and thus had known “Propior Deo” most of his life. Others, who may have been less familiar with it, would have had little trouble utilizing their improvisational skills to join in.

The Accounts

          The second object of attention is the body of eyewitness accounts. The most frequently quoted report of “Nearer, My God to Thee” is that given by Ms. Vera Dick, of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Like the other witnesses reporting a setting of that hymn, Ms. Dick, who escaped in Lifeboat No. 3, did not stipulate which hymn tune was played. However, since “Bethany” seems to have been the most popular setting in Canada, as well as the United States, at that time, it is most likely that she at least thought she heard that tune.
          A lesser known report of the playing of “Nearer, My God, to Thee” is that of Marjorie Collyer, of Leatherhead, England. who was eight years old at the time of the disaster but stood by her story until her death in 1993. She reported hearing the music of the hymn being played as the sailors manning her lifeboat, No. 14, began rowing rapidly away from the port side of the ship in anticipation of its sinking. Unlike Ms. Dick, Marjorie Collyer probably would not have recognized “Bethany” as a setting of “Nearer, My God, to Thee” but could have recognized either “Horbury” or “Propior Deo” as such.
          Without citing names, Lord reported additional accounts, by both British and North American survivors, of the playing of a setting of “Nearer, My God, to Thee.”
          The best known, and one of the most outspoken, of those who maintained that no hymn settings were played was Colonel Archibald Gracie, who narrowly escaped with his life after being pulled under the surface by the sinking liner. Gracie’s experience was so traumatic that he never recovered from his ordeal, and he died less than eight months later. Hence there probably were some events that he either did not note or did not remember, and therefore his pointed insistence on there having been no hymn tunes played near the end should be viewed cautiously.

          The only extant account mentioning the playing of a work titled “Autumn” shortly before the ship’s sinking is that provided by Harold Bride. Even though it is not specifically corroborated by other reports, it warrants serious consideration due not only to Bride’s job-related ability to note and remember details but also to his having been close to the performers at one point. Bride heard the musicians, who by then were on the boat deck, near the entrance to the grand staircase, start playing “Autumn” as he left the wireless shack on the port side of the ship, made his way toward the bridge, and joined a group of men, including Second Officer Charles Lightoller, who were launching the Engelhardt collapsible lifeboat “B” next to the officers’ quarters. Shortly afterward, Bride was swept off the deck, along with the boat and the other men, as the forward portion of the ship’s superstructure submerged. He heard the musicians still playing “Autumn” as he was emerging from under the capsized lifeboat and others were climbing onto it. Within moments, according to Lightoller, the forward funnel fell,
creating a wave that propelled the lifeboat and its passengers away from the wreck.
          A report that, as far as it goes, supports the thesis that “Autumn” was the waltz and not the hymn tune is the account of Algernon Barkworth. He said that, as the ship’s settling by the head made its ultimate demise obvious, he left his spot on the boat deck and returned to his cabin on A-deck to retrieve some personal items. At that point, he heard the musicians playing a waltz. Shortly afterward, he returned to the boat deck and noted that the musicians had quit playing. He then stepped off the deck that by then had partially submerged and, buoyed by his coat and lifebelt, made his way toward Collapsible B. The sequence and timing of events reported by Bride, Lightoller, Gracie, and Barkworth suggest that the washing overboard of Collapsible B and the men who were trying to launch her, and also the toppling of the forward funnel, occurred while Barkworth was below deck. That in turn would have placed Collapsible B in the water with her human cargo when Barkworth quit the ship and Gracie was clinging to a rail near the base of the second funnel. The musicians, meanwhile, almost certainly were seeking temporary safety in the direction of the stern. The chart below relates the events described.

                                                         Reconstruction of Events, about 0210-0216 Hours

        APPROXIMATE TIME            EVENTS
       
        2:10 AM                              Last wireless message sent. Bride prevents crew member from stealing lifebelt of Jack Phillips, senior wireless operator.
                                                        Bride leaves wireless shack as musicians start playing what he later termed "Autumn." Ship's bow, well deck, and
                                                        forward portion of main deck are submerged.

        2:11 AM                              Bride joins others attempting to launch Collapsible B.
       
        2:12 AM                             Ship begins settling by the head. Barkworth heads below to retrieve personal items. Bride and others struggle with Collapsible B,
                                                        which has overturned on deck.
       
        2:14 AM                             Bridge and forward portion of boat deck submerge suddenly as ship slides forward and downward into water. Collapsible B is
                                                        washed overboard with Bride clinging to an oarlock.  Gracie jumps with wave, grasps iron railing near base of second
                                                        funnel. Lightoller is forced into opening of airshaft, then is blown free by pressure from below. Bride swims from under
                                                        Collapsible B, which is overturned in the water.
       
        2:15 AM                              Bride and others in water climb onto Collapsible B as ship continues settling rapidly by the head.
       
        2:16 AM                              Cables supporting forward funnel snap under strain, allowing funnel to fall. Numerous persons in water, including John Jacob Astor,
                                                        are crushed under it. Wave created by falling funnel washes Collapsible B a short distance away. Musicians stop playing and
                                                        move to temporary safety. Barkworth returns from below with coat and briefcase, abandons ship, and makes his way to
                                                        Collapsible B.


          All things considered, it seems likely that Bride, in alluding to “Autumn,” was referring to the waltz rather than the hymn tune. It is true that most persons do not designate hymn tunes by their titles. More significant, however, is the evident lack of the hymn tune’s widespread familiarity or popularity in Great Britain in 1912. In addition, there is the matter of Bride’s report of the playing of “Autumn” from the time he left the wireless shack until after he was out in the water, away from the ship -- a series of events that could not have unfolded in under five minutes and easily could have taken longer. A five- to ten-minute interim would have encompassed the playing of the hymn tune from six to twelve times – an unlikely event under the circumstances. On the other hand, the six- to eight-minute duration of the waltz (depending on which, if any, sections were repeated) would have made a single playing of it fit within the time spent by Bride in making his escape from the Titanic.
          What seems the near certainty of Bride’s having referred to “Songe d’Automne” does not necessarily preclude the playing of a setting of “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” According to both eyewitness accounts and reconstructions of the wreck by Robert Ballard and others, things moved very swiftly once the upper deck began going under and Collapsible B was swept away at around 2:15 AM. The ship’s stern rose until the weight of the portion out of the water caused the hull to split, resulting in the stern’s briefly settling back into the water. As it became flooded, the stern pivoted nearly 180 degrees, rose until it was almost perpendicular to the surface of the sea, and, after about a minute in that position, sank at 2:20 AM.

          The noise of every loose item on board crashing forward as the stern rose the first time, followed shortly afterward by the horrifying sights and sounds of the hull splitting, the forward portion sinking, and the stern plunging back downward, pivoting, and starting to rise again would have left no doubt of what was in store for those still on board and would have rendered pointless, if not grotesque, any effort by the musicians to play anything but a somber hymn. The period of a minute, or perhaps slightly longer, after the hull split would have given the musicians both the time and the conditions for playing a setting of “Nearer, My God, to Thee” one or possibly two times before playing became impossible and the need for the musicians to attempt to save themselves became paramount. The playing would have started as Lifeboat No. 14, containing Marjorie Collyer, began moving farther off the port beam as the ship’s pivoting and rising began. By that time, Bride and the others near Collapsible B were preoccupied with situating themselves on the craft and, according to Barkworth, arguing among themselves over the danger of overloading it. Hence it is not very likely that they would have noted any music that was being played. Meanwhile, Archibald Gracie was struggling for his life, both underwater and on the surface, in a state of terror and near insensibility. As the pivoting continued, the port side of the stern turned toward Vera Dick’s Lifeboat No. 3, which had been lowered off the starboard side, thus enabling her to hear, albeit probably faintly, at least the latter portion of “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” The chart below describes  the final events of the disaster.

                                                               Reconstruction of Events, about 0217-0220 Hours

APPROXIMATE TIME    EVENTS
2:17 AM                        Barkworth reaches Collapsible B and argues with those who tell him to stay off it lest he sink it. Stern of ship continues to rise until hull
                                            splits under strain. Forward two-thirds (approximately) of hull breaks free and begins downward plunge, carrying Gracie and others with it.
                                            Rear third of hull falls back briefly, causing some in lifeboats to  conclude that vessel has "righted herself." That section, however,
                                            immediately begins flooding.

2:18 AM                        Gracie kicks away from sinking forward portion of hull and begins rising to surface. Stern begins pivoting around and rising. Closest lifeboats
                                            move away as quickly as possible in anticipation of suction caused by sinking. Musicians have time time to play one or two stanzas of
                                            "Nearer, My God, to Thee" before angle of deck becomes too steep.

2:19 AM                        Barkworth gets atop Collapsible B. With "a frightful lurch" that throws persons off the fantail (about 100 feet above the water), stern assumes
                                            nearly vertical position. Lights go out for final time. Gracie regains surface in a dazed state.

2:20 AM                       Stern sinks, carrying a relatively small number of persons below but leaving hundreds on the surface in 27oF water.

shortly after
2:20 AM                       Gracie grasps piece of floating wreckage and notes ship's absence.      


The Music

       The Analytical Procedure. The third effort at answering the question of what may have been, and what probably was not, played involves the comparative analysis of the pieces in question. The computer-assisted analytical system, which I developed in connection with my dissertation on oral-aural melodic transmission, takes into account both the opening and closing motifs of the periods and overall melodic contour at three levels of density and detail. The motifs, known in the present system as primary cells, have both intervallic and rhythmic characteristics that, in combination, provide both a rough, abbreviated definition of the melody and the principal mnemonic anchors. Also useful, although less so than primary cells, in determining rough melodic definition are the secondary cells, or the last three different pitches of the first and third phrases and the first three different pitches of the second and fourth phrases in a dual-period, four-phrase melody. Identities of individual tunes and similarities and differences between melodies are both determined and defined in more thorough and precise detail by overall contours whose three structural-perceptual levels are termed the elemental, the broadly-detailed, and the specifically-detailed.  The melodies of “Autumn” and the four settings of “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” with their notated primary cell and contour matrices, are given immediately below. The primary cell matrices, which are integral parts of the contour matrices, are marked with horizontal square brackets, while the paired secondary cells are enclosed in vertical square brackets. Separate pages at this web site (projected availability: spring, 2005) will provide details concerning both the constituencies of the contours, including the primary and secondary cells, and the numerical codes to which the various pitch, durational, and stress factors are converted to form the textfiles used in the computer-assisted phases of melodic comparisons.

Melody and contour reductions, "Autumn"

Melody and contour reductions, "Bethany"

Melody and contour reductions, "Horbury"


Melody and contour reductions, "Propior Deo"


Melody and contour reductions, "Liverpool"



          The Analyses. Comparisons of the melodies of  “Autumn” and “Bethany” and “Autumn” and “Propior Deo” produce some interesting results. As shown in the tables and contour graphs below, there is noticeable similarity between “Autumn” and each of the other two tunes around the openings of the second periods, and there are some similarities between the initial phrases of the melodies (see especially contour graphs, "S," or specific details, level). One might surmise from those findings that a wrong conclusion was reached by witnesses who heard only the opening of either the first or the second period of the hymn tune “Autumn” over the large amount of noise and, in at least some cases, at a considerable distance. The making of that error becomes even more believable in light of both the way in which a passing perception can be clouded by stress of the moment and the way in which memory can be skewed by post-traumatic shock. Therefore the case against the hymn tune “Autumn” is not completely solid. However, the degrees of similarity between “Autumn” and the two settings of “Nearer, My God, to Thee” drop off quickly when attention is given to other corresponding areas. The low overall contour concordances -  under columns labeled EE (elemental), BB (broad details), SS (specific details), and AVERAGE -- and printed in green in the table, and also the graphic representations of contour disparities, are especially significant. Also, the primary cell full-composite, or simultaneously occurring, concordances of pitch, duration, and stress factors, labeled PDS and printed in red, is zero in both cases. Hence there can be made no case for there being any substantial kinship between “Autumn” and either of the other two tunes, and confusion on the parts of survivors would have entailed the making, by multiple auditors, of identical, or at least closely related, errors due to spotty hearing, stress of the moment, delayed shock, or any combination of those factors.
            Further, the reports by both British and North American witnesses very likely would have been based on the confusion of “Autumn” with not one but at least two other hymn settings. It is rather difficult to postulate the making of parallel errors by multiple witnesses, some of whom mistook “Autumn” for one other hymn tune and some of whom thought it was still another. That, in conjunction with the matters pertaining to the way in which most persons designate hymn settings, the time spent by Bride in getting away from the Titanic, and the limited possibility of his knowledge of the sacred piece, largely rules out the likelihood of his having heard and cited by its title a hymn tune that was mistaken by others for a setting of “Nearer, My God, to Thee.”

Table / Graphs of Primary Cell and Contour Concordances, [1] "Autumn" (test) to "Bethany" (first control) and [2] "Autumn" to
                       "Propior Deo" (second control)    
 Click  **  to review primary cell / contour definitions.

NOTES: (1) Numbers 1, 2, and 3 represent individual events within each cell. Each X or # represents a concordance of corresponding individual events.
             (2) Combined pitch-duration (PD), pitch-stress (PS), duration-stress (DS), and pitch-duration-stress (PDS) concordances are color-coded to match column-headers
                  and figures under "COMPOSITE," in "STATISTICAL SUMMARIES," below.
             (3) Primary-cell PITCH, DURATION, and STRESS row labels are color-coded to the P, D, and S column-headers under the individual-factors grouping labeled
                  "SINGLE," in "STATISTICAL SUMMARIES."
             (4) Color-coding of individual factors is used in this set of results only, but combined primary-cell factors are coded throughout this study.
             (5) On-level contour concordance percentages are printed in green throughout this study, while off-level values appear in black. Skeletal and
                   ornamental melodic kinships are not an issue in this investigation. Hence off-level contour concordance figures, although they were generated
                   by the comparisons, are superfluous.

PRIMARY CELLS:

CONCORDANCE  SCHEMATIC  - "Autumn" / "Bethany" (Comparison No. 1 - Row 1, "Statistical Summaries," below)    
 

FIRST PERIOD (A-SECTION)                                SECOND PERIOD (B-SECTION)                                  CLASS OF CONCORDANCE   
                                                                                                                                                                    X: direct        #: indirect

Incipit                    Mediant Cadence                   Opening                        Final Cadence
1    2    3                1    2    3                                  1    2    3                       1    2    3

....................................  X ...........................................  X ................................ X   ..................    Direct Concordance, Pitch
                                 ................................................................................. # .........  ..................    Indirect Concordance, Pitch: 1-2 Cross-Concordance (12XC)
                                                                                                                   ( NONE )    ..................    Indirect Concordance, Pitch: 2-1 Cross-Concordance (21XC)
                                                                                                                   ( NONE )    ..................    Double-Cross Concordance (3=3, 1=2, 2=1)  - DXC
  -- # --   ..........................................................................................................................................    3-1 Pitch Resequencing (2=2)
                                                                                                                   ( NONE )    ..................    3-2 Pitch Resequencing (1=1)                                                    

                                                                                                                   ( NONE )     ..................   Direct Concordance, Duration

                                          X  ...............................................................................  X    .................   Direct Concordance, Stress


CONCORDANCE  SCHEMATIC -  "Autumn" / "Propior Deo" (Comparison No. 2)   

FIRST PERIOD (A-SECTION)                                SECOND PERIOD (B-SECTION)                             CLASS OF CONCORDANCE
                                                                                                                Review explanation if necessary.

Incipit                    Mediant Cadence                   Opening                        Final Cadence
1    2    3                1    2    3                                  1    2    3                       1    2    3

      X   X                            X                                        X    X                                   X   ..................    Direct Concordance, Pitch
                                  #                                                                                  #             ..................    1-2 XC
                                                                                                                                     ..................    2-1 XC
                                                                                                                                     ..................    DXC
                                                                                                                                     ..................    3-1 Resequencing
                                                                                                                                     ..................    3-2 Resequencing                                                    

                                                                                                     ..................   Duration

                                           X                                                                                   X   .................   Stress
 

CONTOUR  GRAPHS
 

K E Y  (all graphs in study)

Colored Markings:   Red - pitch  duplication (figures or larger units; single notes excluded)         
                               
Blue - contour similarity (simultaneous, anticipatory, or successive)
Large Letters under Graphs:  
E - elemental level       B - broad details       S - specific details
Graph Lines: 
Solid, Darker - control contour      Segmented, Lighter - test contour
Index numbers above graphs correspond to comparison numbers within series.


                               1                                          2
 

                                               first period of melody     second period of melody                             first period of melody     second period of melody   

            
                                           

STATISTICAL SUMMARIES:

PRIMARY CELL CONCORDANCE PERCENTAGES           COMPARISON          CONTOUR CONCORDANCE PERCENTAGES
          (
P = pitch    D = duration    S = stress )                                                                                 Review explanation if necessary.                                                                                      

        SINGLE                             COMPOSITE                                                                             MATCHING-LEVEL                                       OFF-LEVEL (TEST/CONTROL)
        P    D    S                          PD    PS    DS    PDS
                                                                 EE        BB        SS        AVERAGE              BE        SE           BS          SB
 
       44   0    17                         0      17     0        0                                         
1                  31          18        22                24                    13         25            11            7
       58   0    17                         0      17     0        0                                         
                     31          13        46                30                    13           6             20         10

 CONCLUSIONS:   

       
"Autumn" to "Bethany" (1)  - Common use of distinctive figures may contribute to perception of resemblance.
                                                   Relationship is otherwise questionable.     

      "Autumn" to "Propior Deo" (2) - Common use of distinctive figures may contribute to perception of resemblance.

                                      

            Even more remote, it seems, is the possibility of witnesses other than Bride mistaking “Songe d’Automne” for a setting of “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” The minor tonality of the waltz is the principal precluding factor. Further, the waltz is considerably longer than any of the hymn settings, and it has a middle section in a contrasting key. Finally, there is no significant melodic or harmonic resemblance between any part of the waltz and any of the sacred pieces.
       It already has been established that there is much to suggest that a setting of “Nearer, My God, to Thee” was played, probably shortly after “Songe d’Automne.” There remains, however, the aforementioned question of which setting. First, it would have been one that could have been played from memory. Second, it would have been recognizable for what it was by British survivors and readily mistakable for “Bethany” by American survivors, or (less likely) vice versa.

          Due to its narrow denominational and geographic associations, its prevailingly minor tonality,  and its lack of significant primary-cell pitch or contour resemblance to any of the other three settings of “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” as shown, “Liverpool” can be dismissed from further consideration.

Table / Graphs of Primary Cell and Contour Concordances, "Liverpool" (test) to controls [1] "Bethany," [2] "Propior Deo,"
           and [3] "Horbury"     Click 
**  to review primary cell / contour definitions.


PRIMARY CELLS
:

NOTE
: Simultaneous, or full-composite, concordances of pitch, duration, and stress (color-coded in red) are signaled with large, red exclamation
            marks 
( ! ) under the appropriate columns. The matching column of red figures in "Statistical Summaries" is labeled  PDS.

1 ("Liverpool" to "Bethany"):           

FIRST PERIOD (A-SECTION)                                SECOND PERIOD (B-SECTION)                               CLASS OF CONCORDANCE
                                                                                                                                                       

Incipit                    Mediant Cadence                   Opening                        Final Cadence
1    2    3                1    2    3                                  1    2    3                       1    2    3

                              X                                                                                                 . ..................    Direct Concordance, Pitch
                                                                                                                                     ..................    1-2 Cross-Concordance
                                                                                                                                     ..................    2-1 Cross-Concordance
                                                                                                                                     ..................    Double-Cross Concordance
                                                                                                                                     ..................    3-1 Resequencing
                                                                                                                                     ..................    3-2 Resequencing                                                    

x    X    X              X   X                                         X    X    X                  X   X  . ..................   Duration

 x    X    X              X   X                                         X    X    X                X    X   X     ................... Stress
                      
!
 

2 ("Liverpool" to "Propior Deo"):

FIRST PERIOD (A-SECTION)                                SECOND PERIOD (B-SECTION)                             CLASS OF CONCORDANCE
                                                                                                                Review explanation if necessary.

Incipit                    Mediant Cadence                   Opening                        Final Cadence
1    2    3                1    2    3                                  1    2    3                       1    2    3
                               
                              X
                                                                                                 . ..................    Direct Concordance, Pitch
                                                                                                                                     ..................    1-2 Cross-Concordance
                                                                                                                                     ..................    2-1 Cross-Concordance
                                                                                                                                     ..................    Double-Cross Concordance
                                                                                                                                     ..................    3-1 Resequencing
                                                                                                                                     ..................    3-2 Resequencing                                                    

x    X    X              X   X                                         X    X    X                  X   X  . ..................   Duration

 x    X    X              X   X                                        X    X    X                 X   X   X    ................... Stress
                      
!

 

                                                                                                                                   .

3 ("Liverpool" to "Horbury"):

FIRST PERIOD (A-SECTION)                                SECOND PERIOD (B-SECTION)                             CLASS OF CONCORDANCE
                                                                                                                                                     Review explanation if necessary.

Incipit                    Mediant Cadence                   Opening                        Final Cadence
1    2    3                1    2    3                                  1    2    3                       1    2    3

                                                                                                                                   . ..................    Direct Concordance, Pitch
                                                                                                                                     ..................    1-2 Cross-Concordance
                                                                                                                                     ..................    2-1 Cross-Concordance
                                                                                                                                     ..................    Double-Cross Concordance
                                                                                                                                     ..................    3-1 Resequencing
                                                                                                                                     ..................    3-2 Resequencing                                                    

       X    X              X                                                    X    X                     X        ..................   Duration

 X          X                                                             X           X                   X   X      .................   Stress

 

CONTOUR GRAPHS:  

                                1                              2                            3


 

STATISTICAL SUMMARIES, "Liverpool" to  (1) "Bethany,"  (2) "Propior Deo," and  (3) "Horbury":

PRIMARY CELL CONCORDANCE PERCENTAGES           COMPARISON          CONTOUR CONCORDANCE PERCENTAGES
         
          ( P = pitch    D = duration    S = stress )                                                                                  Review explanation if necessary.                                            

        SINGLE                             COMPOSITE*                                                                            MATCHING-LEVEL                                       OFF-LEVEL (TEST/CONTROL)
       
P    D    S                          PD    PS    DS    PDS                                                                 EE        BB        SS        AVERAGE              BE        SE           BS          SB
 
       8    83   100                       8      8       83        8                                         
1                    6         10        11                9                    13         19              7           10
       8    83   100                       8      8       83        8                                         
                     19         13        13              15                    13         13            10           13
       0    50    50                        0      0       25        0                                         
3                   0           0           0                0                      7           0              0             8

 

*Two-part composite percentages include incidents that are part of the full pitch-duration-stress (PDS) composite. For example, there are nine incidents of duration-stress
   (DS) concordance in Comparison 1 ("Liverpool" to "Bethany" ). These, each marked
X in the concordance table, together yield a concordance percentage of 75. That value
   is combined with an additional 8% DS concordance as part of the PDS concordance at the first position of the mediant cadence and flagged
! under the first-position of the
   mediant-cadence column, producing a DS concordance of 83%. In addition, the 8% pitch-duration (PD) and pitch-stress (PS) composites are each part of the single incident
   (out of a possible twelve in each case, hence 8%) of PDS concordance. Therefore there are no color-coded X-markings for those dual-factor concordances, although their 8%
   figures are shown in "Statistical Summaries," in their appropriate colors.

 CONCLUSIONS:   
   

       
"Liverpool" to "Bethany" (1) - There is a high primary-cellular rhythmic concordance (DS = 83%). Relationship is otherwise questionable
                                                                       due to low pitch concordance.


      "Liverpool" to "Propior Deo" (2) -
There is a high primary-cellular rhythmic concordance (DS = 83%). Relationship is otherwise questionable
                                                                               due to low pitch concordance.


      "Liverpool" to "Horbury" (3) -
Confusion of either for the other is highly unlikely to impossible due to extremely low pitch concordance and
                                                                     no striking, significant, or pervasive similarity of contour patterns ( review graphs).

                     
          Comparative analyses, first of “Horbury” (test) to "Bethany" and "Propior Deo" (controls, Comparisons 1 and 2, below), then of "Bethany" (test) to "Propior Deo" (control Comparison 3), shows that there is marked disparity between "Horbury" and both of the other hymn tunes but much less difference between “Bethany” and “Propior Deo." There are not only striking similarities between "Bethany" and "Propior Deo" within the primary cells (schematic and primary cell statistics, Comparison 3) but also a significant number of overall contour correspondences at the elemental, broad-detail, and specific-detail levels (contour graphs and statistics, Comparison 3).


Table / Graphs of Primary Cell and Contour Concordances, "Horbury" (test) to controls [1] "Bethany" and [2] "Propior Deo," and
                          [3] "Bethany" (test) to "Propior Deo" (control)     
 Click  **  to review primary cell / contour definitions.


PRIMARY CELLS
:

1 ("Horbury" to "Bethany"):

FIRST PERIOD (A-SECTION)                                SECOND PERIOD (B-SECTION)                             CLASS OF CONCORDANCE

Incipit                    Mediant Cadence                   Opening                        Final Cadence
1    2    3                1    2    3                                  1    2    3                       1    2    3

     X                                                                      X                                         X    X   ..................    Direct Concordance, Pitch
                                                                                                                                     ..................    1-2 Cross-Concordance
                                                                                                                                     ..................    2-1 Cross-Concordance
                                                                                                                                     ..................    Double-Cross Concordance
   --  # --   ....................................................................................................................  ..................    3-1 Resequencing
                                                                                                                                     ..................    3-2 Resequencing                                                    

     X     X             X                                                     X     X                            X          ..................   Duration

X          X                                                               X          X                            X      X    .................   Stress
                                                                                         
!
 

2 ("Horbury" to "Propior Deo"):

FIRST PERIOD (A-SECTION)                                SECOND PERIOD (B-SECTION)                                  CLASS OF CONCORDANCE
                                                                                                                                                            Review explanation if necessary.

Incipit                    Mediant Cadence                   Opening                        Final Cadence
1    2    3                1    2    3                                  1    2    3                       1    2    3

      X   X                                                                                                           X    X    ..................    Direct Concordance, Pitch
                                                                                                                                     ..................    1-2 Cross-Concordance
                                                                                                                                     ..................    2-1 Cross-Concordance
                                                                                                                                     ..................    Double-Cross Concordance
                                                                                                                                     ..................    3-1 Resequencing
                                                                                                                                     ..................    3-2 Resequencing                                                    

     X    X              X                                                    X     X                             X          ..................   Duration

X         X                                                                X         X                             X     X   .................   Stress
           
!                                                                                                           !              

3 ("Bethany" to "Propior Deo"):

FIRST PERIOD (A-SECTION)                                SECOND PERIOD (B-SECTION)                              CLASS OF CONCORDANCE

Incipit                    Mediant Cadence                   Opening                        Final Cadence
1    2    3                1    2    3                                  1    2    3                       1    2    3

X   X                      X    X   X                                               X                      X   X    X    ..................    Direct Concordance, Pitch
                                                                                                                                     ..................    1-2 Cross-Concordance
                                                                                                                                     ..................    2-1 Cross-Concordance
                                                                                                                                     ..................    Double-Cross Concordance
                                                                                                                                     ..................    3-1 Resequencing
                                                                                                                                     ..................    3-2 Resequencing                                                    

X    X   X            X    X   X                                    X    X   X                     X    X   X    ..................   Duration

X    X   X            X    X   X                                    X    X   X                     X    X   X    .................   Stress
!   !                  !   !   !                                     !                !    !   !


CONTOUR GRAPHS:  

                                1                              2                            3

  

 

 

 

STATISTICAL SUMMARIES,  "Horbury" to  (1) "Bethany" and  (2) "Propior Deo"; and 
                                                      (3) "Bethany" to "Propior Deo"
 

PRIMARY CELL CONCORDANCE PERCENTAGES           COMPARISON          CONTOUR CONCORDANCE PERCENTAGES
                 P = pitch  D = duration  S = stress                                                                                                Review explanation if necessary.
               Review explanation if necessary.                          

        SINGLE                             COMPOSITE*                                                                             MATCHING-LEVEL                                       OFF-LEVEL (TEST/CONTROL)
       
P    D    S                          PD    PS    DS    PDS                                                                 EE        BB        SS        AVERAGE              BE        SE           BS          SB
 
       35   50   50                        17    25     25        8                                         
1                  31        18        11                 20                   13         6             11           11
       33   50   50                        25    25     25        17                                       
                    13         23        31                 19                   6           6             10           13
       75  100  100                      75    75     100      75                                       
3                 50         47        44                 47                  13         13            10           10

 

CONCLUSIONS:   

        1 ("Horbury" to "Bethany") - Common use of figures may contribute to perception of resemblance.
                                                  Relationship is otherwise questionable.

      2 ("Horbury" to "Propior Deo") - 17% PDS, with other factors = tenuous relationship by primary cells.
                                                         Common use of distinctive figures may contribute to perception of resemblance.
                                                         Beyond these marginal similarities, relationship is questionable.

      3 ("Bethany" to "Propior Deo") - CLOSE RELATIONSHIP (75% primary-cell composite with 47% on-level contour concordance average)

 
            The assessment of close relationship between "Bethany" and "Propior Deo" stems from a high (75%) primary cell composite concordance in combination with fairly high concordances at each of the three contour levels (EE: 50%, BB: 47%, SS: 44%, average: 47%; see also graphs). Listening to the two melodies simultaneously reveals that, even at the surface level, the similarities both outnumber and outweigh the differences, most of which are concentrated in the third phrase. That is the normal point of greatest disparity between related dual-strain, four-phrase tunes within oral traditions. Therefore it stands to reason that the third phrase would be the point at which differences would be least likely to be noted by those listening to two similar written melodies.
          Thus it seems that “Propior Deo” could have been played, recognized by British and perhaps some Canadian survivors, and mistaken for “Bethany” by the Americans and other Canadians. Given that Wallace Hartley was a British Methodist with a church music background, that scenario seems quite plausible.

Conclusions

          In sum, it appears 1) that “Songe d’Automne” was heard by Harold Bride as he was abandoning ship; 2) that, shortly afterward, there was more than ample reason, adequate improvisational ability on the part of the musicians, and sufficient, although barely sufficient, time for at least some of them to regroup and play the “Propior Deo” setting of “Nearer, My God, to Thee”; and 3) that “Propior Deo,” if played, was mistaken by some for “Bethany,” to which it bears more than enough similarity to account for that error under the conditions that existed both at the time and in the aftermath of the event.
          Can, or will, we ever be certain? The question, of course, is rhetorical. In the words of another beloved hymn, “Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away,” and survivors with memories of the calamity are no longer with us. Perhaps more to the point, the only fully reliable witnesses stood to their posts, discharged their duties, then lost their lives in the icy waters of the North Atlantic on that April night long ago. Unlike our knowledge of exactly what they did or did not play as they were staring death in the face, our realization of their dedication both to their art and to their responsibility is certain.
      CLOSING  MUSIC

                

References

NOTE: The Internet links given below, both in this list and in the following acknowledgements, were accurate and working at the time they were posted. However, like many other links, those given here can become dated at any time after their posting. Every reasonable effort will be made to deactivate them from time to time, but the works will remain listed because of having been used during research for this study. 

Anonymous. "The Grave of Wallace Hartley"

__________. "Ship's Band Chose Fitting Hymn," New York Times (21 April, 1912).

Ballard, Robert D. The Discovery of the Titanic (Toronto: Madison Press Books, 1987).

__________. "A Long Last Look at Titanic," National Geographic 170/6 (December, 1986), 698-727.

Beasley, Lawrence. The Loss of the S.S. Titanic (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1912).

Behe, George. "The Music of the Titanic's Band," at http://ourworld.compuserv.com/homepages/ Carpathia/page3.html.

Bride, Harold (interview). "The Thrilling Tale by Titanic's Surviving Wireless Man," New York Times (28 April, 1912), reproduced in The Story of the Titanic as Told by Its Survivors, ed. Jack Wincour  (New York: Dover Publications, 1960), 309-320.

Collier, Marjorie (interview). "Wreck of the Titanic / Little Girl's Account," Leatherhead (England) Advertiser and Epsom District Times and County Post (18 May, 1912), reproduced, with commentary from Philip Hind, ed., Encyclopedia Titanica (1998, ff.). ONLINE INDEX

Dykes, John Bacchus. "Horbury," Congregational Hymnary (London: Independent Press, Ltd., 1980), 517.

Gracie, Colonel Archibald. The Truth about the Titanic, (New York: Mitchell Kinnerly, 1913), reproduced in The Story of the Titanic as Told by Its Survivors, ed. Jack Wincour  (New York: Dover Publications, 1960), 111-269.

Hind, Philip. "Algernon H. Wilson Barkworth," from Philip Hind, ed., Encyclopedia Titanica (1998). ONLINE INDEX

__________. "Boat Deck," from Philip Hind, ed., Encyclopedia Titanica (1998).  ONLINE INDEX

__________. "The Musicians," from Philip Hind, ed., Encyclopedia Titanica (1998). ONLINE INDEX

Joyce, Archibald. "Songe d'Automne," on compact disc recording, Titanic / Music as Heard on the Fateful Voyage; arranged, conducted, and produced by Ian Whitcomb (Los Angeles: Rhino Entertainment, 1987), track 23; transcription of melodic segments by J. Marshall Bevil.

Kerr, Jessica M. "A Hymn to Remember / a Hymnologist Looks Back to the Story of the Titanic," The Hymn 27 (January, 1976), 11-15.

Lightoller, Commander Charles. Titanic and Other Ships (London: Ivor, Nicholson, and Watson, 1935), reproduced in The Story of the Titanic as Told by Its Survivors, ed. Jack Wincour (New York: Dover Publications, 1960).

Lord, Walter. A Night to Remember (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1955).

__________. The Night Lives On (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1986).

Mason, Lowell. "Bethany," The Hymnal of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (New York: Church Pension Fund, 1940), 465.

Mobray, Jay Henry, complier / editor. The Sinking of the Titanic (Harrisburg, PA: Minter Company, 1912).

Roberts, John (Ieuan Gwyllt). "Liverpool," Congregational Hymnary (London: Independent Press, Ltd., 1980), 516.

Sullivan, Sir Arthur Seymour. "Propior Deo," The Hymnal of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (New York: Church Pension Fund, 1940), 461.
 
 

Acknowledgments

        The author would like to offer his thanks to the websites, listed below, that have utilized and/or indexed this article, its abstract, or both. There may be others of which he is unaware, and any / all omissions are unintentional. Those sites, and new ones as they appear, will be listed in this subsection as the author learns of them.  See, or review, the note concerning Internet links, above, under “References.”

In Memoriam: RMS Titanic Resources   LINK                  

Titanic Info Service  LINK

“Jim’s Titanic Links Page”  LINK             

“Links to Other Wallace Hartley Sites,” Pendle Net, Andrew Stringer, webmaster.  LINK

Musica e balletti,” under “Biblioteca,” Titanic (Italian index)   LINK            

Titanic,” Nova Scotia Online   LINK

“Wallace Hartley, Bandmaster on the Titanic,” Pendle.Net, Andrew Stringer, webmaster.  LINK   
 

                                                                             About the Author

Dr. J. Marshall Bevil is a native of Houston, where he also currently lives. He is both a string music educator and a musicologist (B.Mus. with honors, Oklahoma Baptist University, 1970; M.Mus. - Musicology, University of North Texas, 1973; Ph.D. - Musicology, University of North Texas, 1984) with specialization in the history of bowed string instruments, oral-aural musical transmission, British and British-American folk music, and British popular and academic music of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. His doctoral dissertation has been published by University Microfilms, International (UMI No. 8423854, "Dissertation Services"), and he has published post-doctoral studies in professional journals and presented papers in his areas of specialization at regional, national, and international academic convocations in both the United States and Great Britain. He also is the author of encyclopedia articles on John Avery Lomax, Alan Lomax, and Percy Aldridge Grainger; and he has published on the Internet. In addition to his pedagogic and academic pursuits, he is a performer on the Welsh crwth, a composer and arranger for string and vocal ensembles (publications on sibeliusmusic.com, from early in 2005), and a forensic musicological consultant and expert witness  in copyright and intellectual property misappropriation disputes ( links:  1    2  ).    E-MAIL LINK
                                                                                                       


PLEASE NOTE:

© 1999, 2004 J. Marshall Bevil  
All Rights Reserved

        Thank you for visiting this page and its accompanying online documents. My purpose in preparing and posting them was the furtherance of understanding of an issue that has intrigued and bedeviled Titanic enthusiasts since shortly after the disaster occurred.
            I can be contacted via  
e-mail   for written permission to quote from this study. I will be happy to grant permission in most circumstances, but it must be obtained in writing before any portion of this document is either quoted or reproduced. Use of ideas set forth in this essay other than direct quotations must be accompanied by proper citations of source (author, title, etc.). Reproduction of, or direct quotation from, this essay without written permission from the copyright holder and appropriate citation is INFRINGEMENT OF COPYRIGHT. Other use(s) of original ideas set forth herein without proper citation of source could be deemed MISAPPROPRIATION OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY in a civil action.   Legal remedies will be pursued.


End of Document