So are sea shanties classical music? Absolutely!
A sea shanty is a work song, traditionally shared among sailors in the 16th to 19th centuries during endless days and nights at sea. Born during the mundane, rhythmic tasks onboard a ship, shanties (or sea songs) evolved into entertainment that spun tales of sailor’s oceanic adventures for folks back on land.
There’s no traceable composer for these songs. They’re really folk music, passed down as an oral tradition.
It so happens that folk melodies are the basis for many beloved classical works. Composers from all over the world have paid homage to their homeland for centuries by including traditional folk tunes in their music. Antonin Dvořák and Bedrich Smetana provide great examples. These Czech composers used Bohemian folk melodies in major works, like Smetana’s “Vlatva” (The Moldau) and Dvorak’s “Slavonic Dances.”