About Sea Shanties

We are the Selsey Shantymen and we hope we find you well…

Selsey is based on the South Coast of West Sussex and has strong seafaring links going back generations; in fact it is mentioned twice a day in ‘The Shipping Forecast’ on BBC Radio 4. Selsey has a Lifeboat and a new Lifeboat Station see https://www.selseylifeboats.co.uk/ to learn more. Our local fishing fleet has operated from the beaches for centuries and, in the 18th century, smuggling was extremely profitable.

We felt it was time this heritage was represented in ‘Rollocky Bollocky’ musical form what better way than via Sea Shanties?!

“…we will sing of Mates and Gaffers and Skippers who are mad; we will sing of heroes and villains of the good and of the bad, but whatever we sing we know that you will join in every song and if you don’t we will just go ON and ON and ON!”

What is a shanty?A shanty is a ‘Call and Response’ working song. So much work on board ship required a rhythm that songs were used to maintain the beat.

Different beats were required for different tasks and so the songs also differ in their rhythms. There were short drag, short haul, halyard, windlass and capstan shanties amongst many others and many versions of the same song or chant.

The word itself is believed to derive from ‘chantez,’ the French verb ‘to sing.’

Singing was also a popular pastime aboard ship and in Port. Named after the crew quarters in the ship’s fore-castle, these fo’c’sle shanties are more melodious than the work songs and derive from ballads, poems and other sources.

We have ALL types in our repertoire. See if you can tell US which is which!

If we’ve inspired you to join in with us, please click here to get in touch!

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