Reference Entry

work song

in The Oxford Companion to Music


Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199579037

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A song performed usually by a group during and in time to the actions of work. A heavily rhythmic nature, an open form, and a call-and-response structure is found in countless examples, such as the ‘waulking songs’ that women formerly sang to accompany the rhythmic action of ‘waulking’ or fulling cloth in the Hebrides. In the English-speaking world, the work associated with sailing ships fostered the repertory of sea shanties (...

Reference Entry.  133 words. 

Subjects: Music

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