Before you watch and listen, 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 you don't need lots of instruments or equipment.
So, maybe the sailors on boats like the Cutty Sark in Greenwich 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. You can see the Cutty Sark in Greenwich right next to the Thames. There is also a Maritime Museum there, which will re-open soon, that has lots of history of life at sea and what it involved.
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 and we can share them later! So, please write them down, keep them safe or record them if you can!
What is a remix?
A remix takes a sample of a song or piece of music and adds other elements. Remixes can be exciting because they take a song or piece of music somewhere else completely, like a musical version of a collage where you combine images together in a new way for new effects. You can add beats and new instruments to change the feel of the music.
- Can you describe what the remixer has done to change the song?
- How did it change the atmosphere or feeling?
Here are some other examples of Sea Shanties
Do you notice anything musically about these songs?
- You might think about major or minor (often thought of as happy or sad)
- Tempo (speed of the music: fast, medium, slow)
- Instruments used (are any instruments added or is it all singing? ‘Acapella’ is a musical term that means no instruments are used to accompany (join in).
- Lyrics/ words used.
Here is a group called ‘the Danish string quartet’. They play old traditional folk tunes, also from about 200 years ago, but arrange them for a string quartet. A string quartet is made up of: a double bass, a cello, a viola and a violin which you can see in this video. An arrangement is a bit like a remix, in the way it changes the music, but it uses the chords or the melody and arranges them for a new or different set of instruments.
Speaking of seafaring people and their songs, here’s one some of you may know!