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Sea Shanties

For more than 400 years, the sailors of the seas sang sea chanties while they worked – the chanties kept the repetitive tasks from getting boring, and helped them keep their movements synchronized. While the best known sea chanties are sung in English, other cultural groups had shipboard work songs, and we’ve got some of them here. These albums are collections of stirring music that celebrates a way of life long gone – they evoke a memory both historical and musical, and even if you don’t come from a seafaring background, you’ll find the chanties irresistible!

Displaying 1-17 of 17 items.

Boarding Party : 'Tis Our Sailing Time out of print

Review: A motley crew brings us this collection of sea shanties and ballads, "motley" meaning "of many colors," which describes both the group and their songs. They are Tom McHenry, K.C. King, Bob Hitchcock, Jonathan Eberhart and Dave Diamond, who share a love of singing and the sea. There is a strong folk feeling to this CD, as most sea shanties are working songs, and there's the occasional light guitar or banjo accompaniment. Some of our favorites are: "The Alabama," "The Seaman's Hymn & Eternal Father," "Dead Horse," "Truxton's Victory," "The Sailor's Alphabet," and "Shallow Brown." Well-researched, authentic songs of the sea, vibrantly performed.

Songlist: Bristol Channel Jamboree, Haul Awa', Otho's Song, The Alabama, The Cruiser Baltimore, The Hogeye Man, Solid Fas', The Seaman's Hymn & Eternal Father, Come Down, You Roses, Dead Horse, Johnson Girls, Truxton's Victory, The Sailor's Alphabet, The Shanghaied Dredger, Shallow Brown, The Farewell Shanty

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6512c | 1 CD | $14.98

Boarding Party : Fair Winds and a Following Sea

Review: After a singing "voyage" of over twenty years, sea chantey-singing male quartet (originally a quintet) The Boarding Party, Jonathan, Bob, K.C. and Tom have come ashore to treat us to a 17-song collection of their authentic, testosterone-soaked songs of the sea. A couple of the chanteys, like "Comin' Down The C&O," "Hudson River Steamboat" and "The Old Peacock," are lightly, and nicely accompanied by guitar, harmonica and banjo. Some of our favorites are the poignant "Tommy's Gone to Hilo," "Let The Bullgine Run," "Mauling Live Oak," "Come Along Down," "Starbuck's Complaint," "Randy Dandy O," "C'est L'Aviron," "Saltpetre Shanty," "One More Day," "Lowlands Away" and "Survivor Leave." These are rare and wonderful, authentic songs, some of which would have "died in the Folk archives" if the group hadn't discovered them and created music for them. We enjoyed every minute of "Fair Winds and a Following Sea!"

Songlist: Tommy's Gone to Hilo, The Old Peacock, Let the Bullgine Run, Mauling Live Oak, Soran Bushi, Hudson River Steamboat (Allison), Come Along Down, Go It, Jerry, Starbuck's Complaint (Boarding Party), Randy Dandy O, C'est L'Aviron, Coming Down the C & O (Eberhart), Saltpetre Shanty, Heise, All (Eberhart), One More Day, Lowlands Away, Survivor Leave (Stevens)

More details2345c | 1 CD | $16.95 | A Cappella |

Boarding Party : Too Far From The Shore out of print

Review: It's been too many years, but now my favorite group of singers/scholars/rowdies has rewarded our patience with another collection of water-songs. And a collection of great variety, too: favorite old chanteys, nautical gospel songs, a couple of original songs, a cable-laying song, a Bengali rowing song, songs from the rivers, lakes and canals, as well as the oceans, high and low. Some are tongue-in-cheek, some just good roaring fun, but most ring with the great dignity of sincerity., Some of these songs would have died in the archives had not Bob and Jonathan made new tunes for them, and many would be lost to us forever without the work and interest of these men. They're scholars and historians, and their big robust voices lift these songs into our present very well.

Songlist: Ten Stone, Heave 'er Up and Bust 'er, Tanqueray Martini-o, Goodbye Old Ship of Mine, Song for the Challenger's Crew, Rosie, Sheep on the Deep, Drifting Too Far From Shore, The Ward Line, Atlantic Cable Line, Down The C and O, 100 Years on the Eastern Shore, Oray Sujon Naiya, Rolling Down to Old Maui, Solar Privateer, Farewell to Grog, Last Cigar

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9889c | 1 CD | $15.98

Eddies : Songs of Work, Love & Death

Review: The five men who call themselves Eddies were a book club before they became a singing group. They live on St. Paul, MN's famous West Side, on the banks of the Mississippi River. "Eddies" are whirlpools or currents that run contrary to the mainstream, which describes these five male voices, who sing testosterone-soaked sea shanties and traditional sailing songs, often a cappella and occasionally with instrumental backup of acoustic guitar, accordion and mandola. They choose music that is "well enough know that we actually remembered it and thought we could make it sound good." There are 16 songs here, our favorites include the a cappella "Fire Down Below," "Blow the Man Down," the drinking songs "Roll The Old Chariots" "All For Me Grog" and "Whiskey Johnny," "South Australia," "Cape Cod Girls," "Bully in the Alley," "Rolling Down To Old Maui," "Haul Away Joe," "Roll The Woodpile Down," "Boney Was A Warrior," "Fire Marengo," the slightly racy "A Rovin" and "Bold Riley-O." A number of these authentic, fascinating songs are new to us, and it is all the more enjoyable to hear them for the first time. "Hold Fast" is a well-crafted, spirited collection from a group that is always fun, in their live performances and on all cuts of this debut recording.

Songlist: Fire Down Below, Blow The Man Down, Roll The Old Chariots, South Australia, Cape Cod Girls, Bully In The Alley, Whiskey Johnny, Mingulay Boat Song, Rollin' Down The Old Maui, Haul Away Joe, Roll The Woodpile Down, All For Me Grog, Boney Was A Warrior, Fire Merengo, Bold Riley-O

More details9930c | 1 CD | $14.95 | A Cappella |

Johnson Girls : On The Rocks

Review: The New York City-based Johnson Girls are five talented women who sing authentic, a cappella sea chanteys and maritime songs. Lead-singing leads are shared fairly evenly among the five, who particularly enjoy singing this very blue-collar music live, encouraging audience participation. 19 authentic, spirited tunes, some favorites: "Round the Corn," "Dixie Land," "A Wife in Every Port," "Married to a Trawlerman," "Drink to the Laddies," "Fire Maringo," "Tailor in the Tea Chest," "Working at the Coalface," "Gaol Song," "Mike," "White Wings" and "Mariner's Hymn." These are powerful songs of love, betrayal and heartbreak, of hard work and trouble, rhythmic songs to sing while rowing a ship's boat, raising the anchor, or hauling a canvas sail up to the yardarm. Nicely done liner notes with interesting info about each of the songs. We noticed that the Johnson Girls are all brunettes, and on the cover of "On the Rocks" sit 5 brunette mermaids with their backs to us, singing out to a passing clipper ship, but this is almost certainly a coincidence!

Songlist: Round the Corn, Noah Bult the Ark, Dixie Land, Song for a Seafarer, A Wife in Every Port, Married a Trawlerman, Drink to the Laddies, Roll, Boys, Roll, Vole Mon Coeur, Vole, The Priest and the Nuns, Fire Maringo, Tailor in the Tea Chest, O, Pescator Dell'onda, Working at the Colface, Gaol Song, Mike, White Wings, Pique laBalcine, Mariner's Hymn

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9858c | 1 CD | $14.98 | A Cappella |

Johnson Girls : Sea Shanties and Maritime Music

Review: The five talented Johnson Girls love singing folk tunes together, but let us be more specific-they love singing authentic a cappella sea chanteys and maritime music. They are a refreshing incongruous part of a traditionally male community of singers who come together at festivals and gatherings to sing the old songs. 20 tunes, some of our favorites: "Round Cape Horn," "Sailor's Way," "Essequibo River," "Fisherman's Lassie," "Come Love Come," the fairly racy "Huckleberry Hunting," "Drummer and the Cook," "Yankee Man o' War," "Jump, Isabel, Slide Water" (a rowing song written by slaves before the Civil War), "Pump Shanty," "Fisherman's Wife" and "Goodbye, Fare You Well." These are heart-tugging songs of the life of the sailor, songs that made his labor seem easier, and helped to ease his loneliness or a broken heart. The Johnson Girls sing them with conviction, spirit and deep feeling, making us believe that they are the sailor in question, or that he is their lover, son or husband. An impressive, focused first recording by New York City's talented folk quintet! Liner notes have comments and info on all the songs.

Songlist: Round Cape Horn, Blackbird Get Up, Sailor's Way, Running Down to Cuba, Essequibo River, Bear Away Yankee, Bear away Boy, Fisherman's Lassie, Walk Along Sally Brown, Come Love Come, Huckleberry Hunting, London Julie, Drummer and the Cook, Weary Cutters, Fire Down Below, Yankee Man O' War, Jump, Isabel, Slide Water, Pump Shanty, Fisherman's Wife, Won't You Help Me To Raise 'Em, Goodby, Fare You Well

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9859c | 1 CD | $14.98 | A Cappella |

Johnson Girls : The Fire Down Below

Review: On the cover of "Fire Down Below" is a full color rendition of a sperm whale's tooth, beautifully scrimshawed with an image of a pair of beautiful bustled and corseted mid-1800s women on a dock, waving farewell (or possibly hello) to a fully-rigged wooden sailing ship being consumed by a sailor's worst nightmare, fire at sea. It's a dramatic, poignant scene of the heartbreak of East Coast whaling town women, sometimes waiting and watching the horizon for years for the return of their sailor men. Joy, Alison, Bonnie and Deirdre, a NYC-based Folk quartet, have spent the last 11 years singing authentic a cappella sea chanteys, sometimes joined by the One More Day Chanteymen, their "good friends and solid singers." There are 18 songs here, some favorites are "Heave Her Up," "Shallow Brown," "Shiny-O," "Titanic," the title tune, "Three Foot Seam," "Shove Around The Jug," the poignant "Nantucket Lullabye," "Victoria," the Irish Folk round "Baidin Fheilimidh," "Santianno," "One More Day," and "Mary, Come Join The Religion.'' These are working songs, most of them cadenced to assist in rowing a boat or hauling up a sail or an anchor; the odd miner's union song ("Three Foot Seam") and one that relates to both sailors and miners ("Cornish Lads"). Some are borderline bawdy ("Tailor In The Chest" and "Swing Your Tail") but they obviously gave good warning to sailormen on shore leave. Almost all these songs are new to us, well-performed by the Johnson Girls, and good, authentic Folk music!

Songlist: Heave Her Up, Shallow Brown, Shiny-O, Titanic, Swing Your Tail, Fire Down Below, Tailor in the Chest, Shove Around the Jug, Nantucket Lullabye, Victoria, Sun Down Below, Baidin Feilimidh, Rolling Down the River, Santianno, Three Foot Seam, Cornish Lads, One More Day, Mary, Come Join the Religion

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2344c | 1 CD | $14.95 | A Cappella |

Men Of Shaw : Sea Shanties

Review: Recorded in 1960, under the direction of one of the foremost conductors of the modern age - Shaw's resume includes collaborations with Arturo Toscanini - "Sea Shanties" is not merely a period piece. The 16 shanties, arranged by Robert Shaw and his frequent associate, Alice Parker, are stirring and invigorating, as was indeed their purpose, as many of them supplied the rhythmic accompaniment for hard manual labor. Slower tasks required a commensurate meter: "Shenandoah" and "Lowlands" are typical examples. Finally, in their down time, sailors would sing for entertainment, often recalling exotic ports-of-call, and romanticizing their adventures ("Swansea Town," "Santy Anna"). Four songs have acoustic guitar.

Songlist: Blow the Man Down, Bound for the Rio Grande, Lowlands, Whup! Jamboree, Tom's Gone to Hilo, A-Roving, Good-bye, Fare Ye Well, What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor, The Shaver, Stormalong, John, Swansea Town , Haul Away, Joe!, Shenandoah, Santy Anna, The Drummer and the Cook, Spanish Ladies

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6417c | 1 CD | $9.95 |

Various Artists - Chants De Marins : Sea Shanties - Leave Her Johnny

Review: This album includes traditional shanties from the early days of navigation around the New Zealand coasts. Shanties were divided into halyard shanties (hauling songs), windlass or capstan songs used for heaving the anchor, and pump songs, used for pumping the ship out. On this recording we have tried to bring together as many types of sea shanty as possible, as well as sailors' hornpipes. The songs range from the famous "Drunken Sailor" to "Orpheus," relating the tragic loss of HMS Orpheus on the west coast of North Island. They are sung by members of the New Zealand sail training ship "Spirit of Adventure."

Songlist: Leave Her Johnny, South Australia, Orpheus, 10000 Miles Away, Nick Young, Trumpet Hornpipe, Donkey Riding, Across the Line, Philomena D, Drunken Sailor, Captain Matheson, Talcajuano Girls, Liverpool Joddles, Auckland To The Bluff, Tom's Gone To Hilo, Dead Horse Shanty, Hornpipes, Shore Whalers

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2349c | 1 CD | $10.95 |

Celius Dougherty : Folksongs and Chanties - Low Voice

Review: American composer Celius Dougherty (1902-1986) created lovely arrangements of favorite folksongs and sea chanties. These collections for both High and Low Voice include: Buffalo Boy - Colorado Trail - Red River Valley - Rio Grande - Shenandoah - Wayfaring Stranger - and others. With many selections never before published, these editions offer exciting multicultural literature for voice students and teachers.

Songlist: Barbara Allen (arr. Dougherty), Bring My Lulu Home (arr. Dougherty), Buffalo Boy (arr. Dougherty), Colorado Trail (arr. Dougherty), Come All You Fair and Tender Maidens (arr. Dougherty), I Wish I Were on Yonder Hill (arr. Dougherty), The Lady Who Loved a Pig (arr. Dougherty), O Waly Waly (arr. Dougherty), Red River Valley (arr. Dougherty), Riding to Heaven (arr. Dougherty), Shady Grove (arr. Dougherty), Stewball (arr. Dougherty), The Water Cresses (arr. Dougherty), Wayfaring Stranger (arr. Dougherty), What You Gonna Do When the Meat Gives Out? (arr. Dougherty), Across the Western Ocean (arr. Dougherty), Blow, Ye Winds (arr. Dougherty), Mobile Bay (arr. Dougherty), Rio Grande (arr. Dougherty), Shenandoah (arr. Dougherty)

Voicing: Low

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3063b | Songbook | $14.95 | Solo || Sea Shanty Arrangements

Per Skriver : Four Sea Songs

Review: Highly regarded Danish composer and choral conductor Per Skiver composed these delightful songs of the sea based on the lyrics of four famous poets. English text for mixed choir a cappella.

Songlist: Break, Break, Break, There Comes A Mumur, At Dover Cliffs, Dreams of the Sea

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6894b | Songbook | $12.95 | SATB | A Cappella || Sea Shanty Arrangements

Jonathan Wilcocks : Three Sea Shanties

Review: From noted English choral arranger Jonathan Wilcocks a collection of sea songs. A more serious central shanty, Demons, is framed by two light-hearted settings, Enticement and Drunken Sailor. The ending is extrovert and rumbustious and almost guaranteed to bring the house down.

Songlist: Enticement, Demons, Drunken Sailor

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8043b | Sheet Music | $3.95 | SATB | A Cappella || Sea Shanty Arrangements

Various Arrangers : Sea Shanties

Review: Add a breath of salty sea air to your repertoire with one of these traditional sea chanties. Lots of fun to sing and with performance notes. Originally from England, where "All for Me Grog" was heard in music halls as well as on ships, the shanty was sung while working the capstan and the halyard. Swedish composer and conductor, Robert Sund wrote this playful arrangement of "What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor?" leaving ample room for both women and men to excel in this well-known sea chantey. The tongue-twisting text brings this arrangement to an impressive ending!

Songlist: Blue Whale, Slugs, What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor?

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2223b | Sheet Music | $3.95 | SATB | A Cappella || Sea Shanty Arrangements

Various Arrangers : Sea Songs

Review: The central poem "Sea Song", by Madeleine L'Engle, depicts Neptune as a Sea Bishop who blesses all the creatures of sea and land. Gawthrop's vocally grateful text setting is particularly strong here, with occasional imitative entrances. The legato lullaby "Dream Song" with rocking rhythms imagines dreams coming in on little boats at sunset, then sailing away again at dawn. Three ships full of wheat come into port, and sailors and young women haggle over their wares. Who will be cheated? The rousing concert-closer "Roulez jeunes gens, roulez " features clapping and stomping body percussion. It is high-energy entertainment, written for the Cornell University Glee Club, and now part of their permanent repertoire.

Songlist: Sea Visions, Dream Song, Roulez jeunes gens, roulez (Roll, young folks, roll)

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8040b | Sheet Music | $7.50 | SSAA | A Cappella || Sea Shanty Arrangements

Various Arrangers : Sea Songs for Male Voices

Review: Sea shanties are an early tradition in a cappella music and are great fun to sing. Here we offer a selection of classics for male voices. The English sea shanty "All For Me Grog", already a success in SATB and 3-Part Mixed voicings, is now available for men's chorus, just the way it would have been heard originally when sung by sailors as they pulled long heavy ropes on early Navy vessels. Noted arranger Vijay Singh brings us three classics that will provide excellent programming materials for male quartets, ensembles and choirs. "Leave Her, Johnny, Leave Her" is a playful arrangement in which the ensemble encourages one of its own (Johnny) to bid farewell to his female shore leave companion. Encourage the singers to imagine they are loading the ship for departure and watching with amusement as young Johnny tries to bid his lady farewell. 'Bangidero" is derived from a traditional sea chantey in which a crew sings of admiration for its captain and his tales of shore leave opportunities in South America. "Her Bright Smile", based on the plaintive words of an anonymous sailor poem, details the sailor's loneliness and longing for his ladylove. Marshall Bartholomew, arranger for much of the Yale Glee Club repertoire, does a fine job with the traditional "What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor?".

Songlist: What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor?, Leave Her, Johnny Leave Her, Bangidero, Her Bright Smile, All For Me Grog

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8046b | Sheet Music | $5.95 | TTBB | A Cappella || Sea Shanty Arrangements

Sheena Phillips : Six Sea Shanties

Review: Rarely are women's choirs given such strong and heroic songs to put their mark on. These offer a wonderful opportunity for your women's choirs to show their dynamic and emotional ranges.

Songlist: Santiana, Blood Red Roses, Boney, The Dead Horse, All For Me Grog, Time To Leave Her

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4278b | Songbook | $6.25 | SSA || Sea Shanty Arrangements

Greg Gilpin : Party, Me Heartey

Review: Hoist the sail and join the pirate crew with this fun and novel pirate original song. Shiver me timbers, this will transfer your choir into singing pirates and it's sure to make a swashbucklin' showstopper! Perfect for costumes, movement and staging.

Sheet Music Available: 2-Part

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5313p | Studiotrax CD | $26.95 || Sea Shanty Arrangements

Related Pages

Arrangements of Sea Shanties