Ye Old Sea Shanties – Traditional Sailor Folk Songs Gone Viral


An idea, song, or fad that goes viral is a phenomenon that’s not well understood.  Sometimes, something just clicks, and people suddenly discover they share a common sensibility and interest that underlies our common humanity. After a year of COVID confinement; from being locked in with no where to go, to hoarding toilet papers, people have perhaps grown weary of being so wary.

It’s not surprising that people have become nostalgic for the open ocean and sailing ships of a bygone era, when nature was nature and men were men, and sea shanties were all the rage. In the latest craze to hit the internet, direct from a post ban TikTok, comes the amazing harmony of an old whaling shanty, The Wellerman Song.


Sea Shanty – Wellerman Song – Best Version with Guitar Accompaniment by Magnaviator

Starting from nothing but a single male voice accompanied by the beat of a hand drum, the song series have grown over time as more and more people have added their voices and instruments to the music, increasing the harmony in complexity and beauty.

Sea Shanty – Wellerman Song – Extended Version:

Originally a New Zealand whaling folk song that dates back to the mid 19th century, with no discernible author.  It has been performed by numerous singers throughout the years; but never quite like this. Since TikTok allows the embedding of a video within another video, a community of users have been able to come together virtually to perform choral harmonizations without ever needing to break quarantine.  By adding their voices singly to embedded prior videos, these singers created an embellished choral effect that is astonishing in it’s simplicity and harmonized beauty, listen for yourself:

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