Hobbies Playing Music What Are Work Songs? Share PINTEREST Email Print South_agency/Getty Images Playing Music Music Education Basics Music History Music Lessons Music Theory Playing Guitar Playing Piano Home Recording By Espie Estrella Espie Estrella is a lyricist, songwriter, and member of the Nashville Songwriters Association International. our editorial process Espie Estrella Updated February 12, 2019 Work songs are songs that are sung while working or performing a task. Singing at work is also a way to express a laborers' sentiments about their job and working conditions. This type of song exists around the world. For example, Japanese work songs are called min-yo, while in Trinidad they sing what is called gayap. African Americans who were enslaved sang a lot of work songs from which spirituals and the blues were derived. Laborers such as miners, sheep shears and those who are in prison sing work songs as they perform their tasks. Work songs are sung for different reasons including: To express sentiments and frustrationsTo encourage support and actionTo communicate ideas or tell a storyTo fight boredomTo increase work efficiency These types of songs possess specific characteristics: It's sung a cappellaIt can be sung solo or by a group of workersIt incorporates the movements and sounds of the workers into the songThe lyrics may or may not reflect the task that is being performed Work songs have been passed down from generation to generation. Although it's not as prevalent as it was before, these songs remain a strong testament of how music is used in daily life. Especially when working conditions were often horrid, these songs became a source of strength for hardworking laborers.