Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Deconstruction of a shantie

In Chinook, shantie or shantey still simply means to sing and we can guess that its roots occur somewhere in the French word chanter.

On boats and ships around the world, shanties were work songs whose rhythms helped synchronise tasks. So for example a haul shantie was sung when hauling in a line. If the job was expected to be quick, a short-haul shantie would be sung - one long stress per chorus; if long, with less force perhaps two pulls each chorus, a long-haul shantie was called for such as the ubiquitous Blow the man down (beloved of music teachers).

File:Old Lighthouse Waitemata Harbour.jpg

Other shanties would be developed for other jobs and might involve stamping as a kind of group percussion. And it is the driving rhythm that may encourage us to recognise shantie or shantie beats in poetry. Or simply hear the sound of a work task hidden in its structure.

There is more information here http://www.jsward.com/shanty/index.shtml and here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_shanty

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