Walking around the sailboats in the Bristol docks has really fired my imagination - the S.S. Great Britain standing tallest among them, peering proudly down over the lowly little boats surrounding it. I've always felt like harbour towns have a strongly poetical connection to their past. Looking out to where ships used to pass is like standing at the edge of another world where history can almost sail up through the ages to meet you.
|My latest collection, now up on my website|
|My new Seafarer lampshade featuring denizens of the darkest ocean|
The perils and pleasures of life of the waves
For this third collection, I thought I'd share a little bit of historical sea shantying to set the scene for my new adventurous seafarers theme. This one is from the wonderful 'Roaring Trowmen' - who I’ve seen set a room singing with nothing but their own voices and some traditional tunes:
The sea shanty - a derivation from the French word “chanse” - to sing, came into the world of sailing for surprisingly practical reasons. When you listen to these types of songs, you soon notice they have a particularly rhythmic pattern to them, with a lot of 'call and response' parts to them. Interestingly, the origins of 'shanty' can be traced back to the work songs of the Deep South, when sailors spent their days hauling onto loading vessels the cotton picked by African Americans in the plantation fields. Around this time, the magnetic beats of African music were just beginning to blend their way into the songs of the West, and music to make you move became more popular.
|The infamous Kraken|
Unfortunately, the days of public singing are long gone. For years and years, work songs were carelessly belted out and handed down as a matter of course, however I doubt you find a factory or a worksite where you could get away with that now! I'm really not sure why this has happened, but I think it's kind of a shame... Wouldn't it be hilarious if it became a trend again?
So the next time you find yourself humming along to Drunken Sailor, maybe you'll think of our brave boys on the waves, hanging on to a rope, and possibly eachother, for dear life, belting out some happy tunes all the way home.