Scroll through the 2 cd's listed above and hear samples or buy.
These men sailed all over the world in such endeavors as the India trade and whaling.
The shanties were in English so there it is easy for us.
The French, Nordic, Germans, etc. also had shanties.
I speak French, but most others around me don't so I won't get into French chanties yet.
By the way, the word "chant" means "sing" in the French language. Coincidence?
Some shanties were changed through the centuries, to become what we have now.
The kinds of work defined the type of shanty.
The forecastle itself was also called the shanty as in a structure.
A forecastle shanty, (pronounced foke-sal) or a forebitter are the same.
They were sung usually when waiting around between bouts of hard work.
Their time off was spent with these songs of home or romantic business or of betrayal by a wench on shore or military battles, as well as popular songs of the day.
The dead horse shanty was sung with the men all together, when a man paid off his debt to the ship for his supplies.
Some were for crossing the equator.
A sea shanty or chanty is a work song.
In the same way, Chinese coolies had work songs and the way the African slaves of the south had work songs so too did the sailors and whaling men and dockhands of the era.
The tradition spanned many years.
The first shanties found were in early texts
written by a monk describing a chant sung to the job of work done by the sailors on
his trip to the Holy land from England in the (1400's?).
It was many moons ago.. The 1700's and 1800's brought us the most memorable shanties.
Most shanties that we hear came from England, Ireland and USA although every maritime country had them.
I was being rowed on a sampan sort of boat in Suzhou China, and the woman was singing a Chinese language Sea Shanty!
Note the cramped quarters in this partial view of bunk beds, etc. as well as a wood stove in the foreground.
This was used for heat.
Short Drag Shanty: For tough jobs where men worked shorter distances such as raising a masthead or trimming sails.
Here is the windlass of the Charles E. Morgan
A capstan shanty: used when working the large vertical drum with a mushroom shape on the top which had holes for the bars that were inserted to push the capstan around and around.
So, they worked in a circle. They would stamp on deck at times with the rhythm, therefore, "Stamp & go Shanties".
That, for one thing, wound up the anchor chain.
Halyard shanty: was used with a grunt or a stressed word at a part of the song to accentuate the coordinated pull.
The work couldn't be done if not in a timed, concerted effort. The halyard raised the yard to which the sails were hung.
Despite the advantage of block and tackle, some could weigh over a ton.
Here's Roger Chartier on the windlass.
Windlass and Pumping Shanties: A windlass is shaped like a barrel on it's side, horizontally that is, with handles at either end. Handles were worked up and down.
On pump brakes, (downtown pumps) an eye splice on the end of a rope was fitted over the end of a handle so that several men could work on it together.
This was called a bell rope. The sailors pulled this in teams.
The way shanties are played today is sometimes in a fun, yahoo sort of way. That is not the way the sailors etc. of the time used them to do a slower, more laborious job of work. Surely they did raise hell on occasion.
We shanty singers are not working when we sing them, we are both presenting a piece of history and oft times having fun. So the presentation again, has changed just a little.
Captain Roger's recipe for grog: 1 Cup or mug
2 Shot of rum
3 Teaspoon of powdered sugar
4 Lime juice -
Squeeze a piece of
lime to prevent scurvy.
5 Cinnamon stick.
6 Boiling water (fill 'er up)
Let it cool enough,
then ... Drink Hearty Mates!
This site is about sea shancties or chanties, a sea shanty . Sea shanties were work songs. Folk songs of the sailors. Books of songs are available but you can get the music for the song here. There are books of sea shanties available on the sailorsongs sea shanty store.
On the compact disc recording of this sea chanty song I have used a lot of different musical instruments. Bass guitar, violin, guitar and percussion instruments, etc., as well as my singing voice. One nice thing about being here is the link to the store where you can buy recordings of my two cd's as either regular compact discs of sea shanties or download the songs individually.
Also available are many recordings of sea shanties or sea chanties as they are sometimes called by other folk singers and chantymen. On the left column of this page are the lyrics for those folks who don't need the sheet music. Sing sea shanties by the seashore, it's good fun!