Traditional sea songs are usually divided into two groups. Shanties were the songs sailors sang to help them with the hard work on board the big sailing ships like the "windjammers" of the 19th century. The songs the sailor sang for enjoyment and relaxation when he was "off watch" are often called forebitters, and although many of them were stories about sailors or the sea, they could be any kind of song.
Here are some books of sea songs
- Shanties from the Seven Seas, Stan Hugill, 1961, Routledge & Kegan Paul
- Ballads and Sea Songs of Newfoundland Elisabeth Bristol Greenleaf and Grace Yarrow Mansfield, 1933, Memorial University of Newfoundland
- Boxing The Compass - Sea Songs and Shanties - Roy Palmer, 2001, Herron Publishing (Previously The Oxford Book of Sea Songs - now expanded)