Skye Boat Song
Free Vocal Sheet Music
Free vocal sheet music "Skye Boat Song" from Scotland. now with:
- a new finger-picking version - tricky, but lovely
- a version for beginning guitar note readers that avoids the tablature, but offers a guide for the notes! Also:
- free guitar acoustic tablature as well as standard notation.
- This song makes a great lead sheet for piano, too!
Please scroll down the page for the download links.
This finger-picking arrangement is made on purpose to take advantage of the pretty sound of the Dsus chord (D suspension).
If you've never made it before, it's just a matter of adding one finger to the D chord on fret 3 of string 1, the high-sounding E string. Then you pull off that extra finger and hey presto! You're back to the regular D chord.
Please scroll down the page for the free download links!
So far this piece has been pretty successful with my struggling guitar-playing note-readers.
It helps that it has lots of open strings - D, G, and B. They haven't yet tried adding the chords, but I'll let them take several weeks.
In the meantime, I am playing their backup chords.
Why did I arrange the piece this way? Obviously, it is a LEARNING exercise. An exercise with a bit of pull, due to the beauty of the song.
Now here is the ordinary arrangement with tabs:
A bit of Scottish history... this is a song about Bonnie Prince Charlie.
This is a beautiful song about the Jacobite Rebellion, and the fateful battle at Culloden in 1746 (thanks for the correction, and additional history in your comment below, Sandy).
Here Scotsmen made a last heroic stand for Scottish freedom from English rule by fighting for Charles Stewart - Bonnie Prince Charlie.
The Scots longed for a ruler who was true-born, of the royal line.
There was terrible slaughter at Culloden, the Scots beaten by the English with their muskets and cannon, but Prince Charlie escaped to the Isle of Skye with the help of Flora MacDonald, a Jacobite heroine.
She dressed him up as her maid, and he almost gave himself away, acting like a man! (To learn more about the time of the Jacobites, look for the beautiful and powerful -- if violent and vulgar -- movie Rob Roy with Liam Neeson, and also a much more child-friendly movie with beautiful music and characters, Lorna Doone. Both movies are action-packed. And both have memorable soundtracks.)
You can hear a snippet of a choral version of this song at Folk Songs for Two by Jay Althouse (nice because they can be male/male, female/female, or male/female).
This book has a high number of very likeable songs -- good for a group of singers. And this particular song has been very popular with my voice students.
Here is a list of the songs (this song among them):
- All Through the Night,
- Amazing Grace,
- Camptown Races,
- He's Gone Away,
- Poor Wayfaring Stranger,
- Scarborough Fair,
- Siyahamba, and
- the VERY POPULAR Homeward Bound.
Now I just have to mention a very beautiful song called Bring Me a Boat by Kate Rusby which is startling similar to Skye Boat Song, but with the first interval turned upside-down:
This song is copyrighted, but her CD, Underneath the Stars, can be found on Amazon.com.
The links to the guitar arrangements:
Download the finger-picking arrangement
Download note-reading version of Skye Boat Song for guitar instruction
Download Skye Boat Song with free guitar acoustic tablature
More Folk & Traditional Songs
Ae Fond Kiss - not strictly a folk melody, but it is old - and very lovely!
Ash Grove - an elegant melody that sounds more classical than folk, the lyrics are old-fashioned and poignant
Cat Came Back (for early singers) - a fun and silly song that can be pared down to JUST 5 NOTES for kids who have trouble matching pitch, there is much repetition in the melody (good for finding pitches)
Colorado Trail - a genuine cowboy song, just one verse, surprisingly lovely
Down by the Salley Gardens - this pretty song from England is a setting for a poem by William Butler Yeats with a warning for those who wish to hurry love
Erie Canal - a vigorous minor melody that kids like, with lots of repeating phrases
Green Bushes - a fast, light, pretty melody that speaks of false-hearted love, and feels very "English" in both lyrics and chord progressions
Grenadier and the Lady - Number One with me! So beautiful, somewhat sad. Lots of opportunities for expressive singing
Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier - Lovely. Important for breath control and learning to mold a phrase
Lavender's Blue, a pretty song that is VERY simple to sing! Perfect for young girls just starting out. Many basics of singing can be taught with this easy song!
Loch Lomond, the most famous song of all from Scotland. Still beautiful
Mari's Wedding - lots of energy in this Scottish tune, which sounds great with guitar and fiddle backup
The Minstrel Boy - though rather difficult with its long phrases & reaches, this Irish song about the love for one's country is very moving and beautiful. A great song for BOYS.
Molly Bawn - So sad, but so IRRESISTIBLE. Lovely and evocative, and requiring good air support, it is educational as well as being satisfying to the musical soul
Muss i denn or Abschied (Wooden Heart) - from Germany by way of Elvis, an adorable folk tune!
Once I Had a Sweetheart - another sad, pretty, and image-arousing song, once sung by Joan Baez
Parting Glass - There are many versions of this GREAT Irish melody. Download mine free, then check out others!
Scarborough Fair - an old favorite from England, still lovely
She Moved Through the Fair - a strange, shifting melody, with almost creepy lyrics that will haunt you
Shenandoah - So pretty, and genuinely American. Long phrases, good breath control practice
Skye Boat Song - a singable old Scottish song with a great tune about the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie after the Battle of Culloden
Do you have a story or even a question about this vocal piece? Share it!
Please note that all comments are moderated, and will not appear until I have approved them. Also, IF YOU ARE ASKING FOR MUSIC THAT IS NOT IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN, YOUR REQUEST WILL BE IGNORED. That's pretty much any music written in the last 75 years...
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About the Author
Hi, I'm Dana! (Say that like "Anna".) I'm the owner of Music-for-Music-Teachers.com, and a newer site, SingTheBibleStory.com.
Like some of you, I've been playing the piano since early childhood, and have added a few other instruments along the way, plus an interest in arranging and composing music.
You can find out more about me and the reason for this website at my About Me page.