chantey or shanty (both: shănˈtē) [key], work song with marked rhythm, particularly one sung by a group of sailors while hoisting sail or anchor or pushing the capstan. Often it has solo stanzas sung by a leader, the chanteyman, with a chorus repeated after each by the entire group. Similar songs are sung by shore gangs and lumbermen, and all are related to the work chanting of group labor throughout the world, such as the barcaroles of Italian boatmen, the songs of West Indian shoremen, or the Asian seafarers' chants. Many universally known chanteys, such as "Way, Haul Away" and "Wide Missouri," are of American origin.
See R. Frothingham, ed., Songs of the Sea and Sailor's Chanteys (1924); F. Shay, ed., American Sea Songs and Chanteys (1948); S. Hugill, ed., Shanties from the Seven Seas (1961).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.