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Mysha Visuals of Chanties at Work (33) RE: Visuals of Chanties at Work 11 Aug 14


Well, it would seem there were seaman work songs before the shanties. (If you're looking for historical factors: Why are they called "chanties"?) They must have served to relieve the boredom; work songs usually seem to do so. Then somewhere and -when in the 19th century, apparently, the chanty was invented, which added work timing to the work songs. I couldn't say whether the distribution was limited culturally or merely by the speed at which seamen, and especially shantymen, moved from ship to ship.

Obviously, as shanties are tied to specific types of work, the disappearance of such a type of work would exclude the linked type of shanty. Whether steamers had other types of work that were boring and needed timing, I don't know. And would machine power not be to loud to allow using shanties near them?

Coming to these modern professional sailors: I expect they'll find that timing makes the work easier, but of course "heave . . . heave . . . heave" or "one heave one heave" would suffice. Whether they would use work songs at all would probably depend again on whether their work is boring. And whether they used shanties might depend on whether they had a shantyman: Someone who knew shanties for each type of work and was able to use them to make the work easier.

So, while I agree that it may be a cultural thing, it need not be of the "We don't sing" type, but may just be because of the difference between the culture of the clipper sailors then and the yacht sailors now. That both are professionals may not be enough of a similarity to make them behave the same.


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