Professor Catherine Loveday, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, was interviewed by BBC Science Focus about the science behind why sea shanties are so catchy.


In the article Professor Loveday spoke about why work songs help with hard labour, and said: “Music has a real capacity to connect us. It taps into our own natural communication system. It makes us feel bonded and connected. It also lifts us up. In the same way as chanting at a football match or singing in a religious setting or even singing lullabies to children, music enables us to reach a different emotional side.”

She also discussed what makes sea shanties good work songs, and said: “I think it’s the fact that they tend to have these lifting, lilting melodies that go up and down and they tend to match the actual physical action they’re doing.

She added: “What you have with sea shanties is something that is almost moving you backwards and forwards in a very rhythmic sense…And it does that with this very consistent rhythm, but also with sort of melodic lines that tend to go up and down and match the activity that you’re doing.”

Read the full article on the BBC Science Focus website.

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