Some of you may have heard a song that has become popular recently on Tik Tok called ‘Wellerman’. This is a traditional sea shanty song from about 200 years ago that was sang online around the world after being started on Tik Tok and then a remix was added to it. Before you watch and listen, here is one simple instruction: sing along!
Sea shanties were songs sung by sailors aboard boats on long voyages. They sang them to keep their spirits up when they were away from home for a long time, sometimes sailing for 1000s of miles across the oceans over many weeks. The great thing about sea shanties is that they are all about singing with a simple beat and not very many instruments.
1. How does the singer in the video you just saw keep the beat?
2. What instrument did you notice playing in the song?
1. The singer just hits the beat with a fist on a board of wood carefully so he doesn’t hurt himself.
2. A violin.
So, maybe the sailors on boats like the Cutty Sark in Greenwhich sang sea shanties?
Exactly! The Cutty Sark was built in 1869 and transported tea from China as well as wool, drinks and other goods around the world. Cargo ships (that deliver goods) always carry items on each journey to sell. Even though it was a fast ship at the time, it would still take weeks to travel between countries.
Why not? Listen again to the track above, and as you listen to the tune/melody, see if you can change the words, write down your ideas and try to sing them to the tune/melody, you might need to add or subtract a word or two to help your words fit the rhythm. It would be great to hear your ideas, so email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send them to Jerome.
Speaking of seafaring people and their songs, here’s one some of you may know!