If space travel doesn’t involve sea shanties then I think we’ll have missed an opportunity.

You see though, for sea travel you want big strong people who are capable of managing rigging.  For space travel you want small low-mass people who are technically educated, as they are called, nerds.  Your space shanties are going to be less booming and more squeaky.

in so far as there will be space shanties, they’ll be filk

I call shenanigans on the big strong people; sailors were young and malnourished by modern standards, and climbing around the rigging is easier if you’re small and light.

Like, I am 100% in favor of shanties in as many situations as possible, but I’m having trouble coming up with a mode of space travel that would require multiple humans to move in concert, thus necessitating songs with a strong beat to move to.  

Sea chanties were for providing a strong beat to move to.  Space chanties might very well arise just because we’re bored, out there between point A and point B for so long.

(Also yes, @gdanskcityofficial up there has the right of it.)

Space shanties are for warp piloting. Under warp drive, human time perception and time as measured by crystal or atomic oscillators don’t match. Starship pilots listen to a small unamplified chorus singing a careful rhythm while keeping their own eyes on a silent metronome that the chorus can’t see, linked to a highly-precise atomic clock. How the chorus and metronome fall in and out of sync tells the pilot how to keep the ship safely in the warp bubble and correctly on course.

Depending on route, a typical warp jump can last anywhere from one to ten minutes, and most courses consist of five to fifteen jumps before a necessary four to six hour break to check the engines, plot the next set of jumps, and give everyone a chance to recover. A good shanty team, with reliable rhythm, a broad, versatile, and extendible repertoire, and the stamina to do 3-4 sets a day over the course of a voyage, is just as vital to space travel as a pilot, navigator, or engineering team.



Other reasons Shanties will experience a revival in the space age:

  • We will sing for any freaking reason, or no reason at all, and Shanties are FUN to sing.
  • Deep Space is a lonely place and recruiting people suited to long periods of isolation might be a good idea.  People from Newfoundland/Labrador, for instance.
  • “What Do We Do With A Drunken Sailor” is basically a revenge fantasy against your most incompetent co-workers and if there’s something humans love doing, it’s being petty.

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