Shanty U.K. Archive

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Welcome to
Shanty UK's archive of
shanties and sea songs

This is not intended to be just another lyrics site: you will of course find lyrics for shanties and sea songs here, but we aim to provide more than just that.

There is no such thing as the "real words" to a shanty - improvisation was the rule of the day. Before the days of recording, every performance was unique. Shantymen would make up their own verses as they went along, or "borrow" verses or tunes from other shanties, so the same words could be sung to several different tunes, and with differing choruses.

What we present here is an attempt to give you words and tunes that you are likely to hear sung at the many maritime festivals around our shores each year, at shanty sessions at folk festivals, and in folk clubs and singarounds.

We aim to provide eventually for each title not just "the words", but also a musical score ("the dots") with a playable MIDI of the tune, as well as a short sound or video clip of a performance, usually by a group or artist who is a members of Shanty UK.

We may also often provide a bit of background information on people or places connected with the song and its history.

Finally, Rome wasn't built in a day: we will continually add or update content, but this archive can probably never be regarded as complete or definitive. Any contributions will be more that welcome, and even if you have nothing to add, please check in frequently to see what has been added by others.

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