Countries & Uses

List of Traditions

Here is an incomplete, informal list of worksong traditions that I've heard or read about. It is just intended as a starting off point for researchers, farmers or anyone who wants to look more deeply into worksongs as an idea or practice. I hope to always be adding to this list, adding links to what's already here, and generally making this as comprehensive as possible.

International 
Sea shanties and songs of the sea

Africa 
Tanzania: farming tradition (Frank Gunderson) 
Liberia: Kpelle rice planting, brush clearing 
South Africa: Zulu 
Lesotho 
Madagascar

Asia 
China: Boat pulling songs 
Japan: rice planting songs 
Vietnam: boat poling songs 
Republic of Georgia: hoeing songs

Europe
Austria/Switzerland: cow calling songs, singing in barns
Sweden: Livestock calling songs "Kulning"
Scotland: waulking songs (wool pounding)
Italy: Lazio region, poetic, rhyming shepherd sing-offs
Sardinia: Shepherd songs "Bibo"
England: sheep shearing in countryside (Copper Family)

Middle East
Bahrain: pearl diving

North America 
Native American (many tribes): canoe songs, planting songs
St. Vincent: rowing to whale hunting, shanties (Barroualie Whalers)
USA: Prison work songs
USA: Georgia Sea Islands
Canada: Cape Breton: Waulking - Wool fulling

Oceana 
Polynesian cultures: Rowing 
Australia: Songlines/walking songs

South America
Brazil: Chopping Sugarcane

 

LIST OF USES

This is an informal list of many of the activities that people have developed a worksong tradition for. It's not a scholarly text, just a place to collect the diversity of uses worksongs have. Over time I hope to add citations and links to these different traditions. If you want links to different traditions, a better place to look at the moment might be the list of worksong traditions by country.

Fishing
shore nets
purse sein
rowing
pearl diving

Farming
hoeing
harvesting
weeding
shelling
encouraging plant growth
corn shucking
milling & grinding
shearing

Herding
milking
calling
teasing
convincing mothers to give milk
passing time
cowboy songs
yodeling

Making
waulking
spinning & weaving
butter churning
boat building

Hunting
Herding animals
Soothing / entrancing animals
Coordinating people

Industrial
Ghana stamping songs (mailrooms)
assembly lines
clock making
hammering & construction

Vending
selling at markets
street cries

Logging
Felling trees
Bucking Logs
River Driving

Jogging & Hiking
military cadences
Tanzanian Musical Jogging - Mchakamchaka
walking & hiking

Sailing
halyard
windlass
pumping