Jurassix support CHSW
Supporting The Children
Sea Shanty Band

"Singing sea shanties to help make the most of short and precious lives across the South West......"

Sea Shanties

What is a Sea Shanty ?

In simple terms a sea shanty is a song sung by sailors (and fishermen) in rhythm with their work.
Shanties date back to as far as the fifteenth century and were sung up to the early twentieth century and were at their heyday when only the sailors muscle was available to perform the physical tasks needed to sail a ship. The rhythm’s of the shanty with alternating solo and chorus helped sailors coordinate the efforts involved in performing their day to day duties on board ship.

A shantyman was often the lead singer who performed the solo to which the sailors responded. Shantymen were central to the smooth running of a ship of the time.

The mundane tasks these early sailors had to perform naturally divided into three main categories and the various shanties evolved around these categories – long haul, short haul and Capstan shanties.

  • Long haul sea shanty – sung during heavy jobs carried out over long time coordinating hauling and setting sails. In this type of shanty there is a chorus at the end of each line which helps the sailors work together by taking a deep breath and taking a fresh grip in between each pull.
  • Short haul or short drag shanties – sung whist performing quick pulls over a relatively short time, such as unfurling or shortening a sail. The steady rhythm characteristic of these shanties helped the sailors work at the same pace to get the job done in a safe and efficient manner.
  • Capstan or the Windlass shanties – sung performing long repetitive tasks where a sustained rhythm is required such as when the crew were manning the capstan to raise and lower the ship’s anchor.

Other types of shanties evolved including pumping shanties – sung when pumping the bilges out, stamp and go shanties – sung on large ships when the task in hand was performed using a long rope tug of war style, forecastle shanties, sung when the work was done to remind the sailors of places visited, often funny and sometimes bawdy, whaling shanties – life on whaling ships was hard and dangerous with the crew often away for over a year, shanties helped these sailors face the tough life on board and ease the burden of their work at sea.

Shanties are a legacy from our past and The Jurassix perform these songs now to help preserve the history and stop the songs from dying out.

If you would like us to perform at your event, visit our Contact Page to book the Jurassix Sea Shanty Band and together we can help keep the tradition of the authentic sea shanty alive.