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!
Finger-picking version of Skye Boat Song for guitar

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.

Skye Boat Song with note-reading guide for guitarists

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:

Skye Boat Song sheet music

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, 
  • Cindy, 
  • He's Gone Away, 
  • Poor Wayfaring Stranger, 
  • Scarborough Fair, 
  • Shenandoah, 
  • 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


Spanish Ladies - a minor key sea chanty that swings energetically along - BOYS like singing it too!


The Spanish Lady - Upbeat and energetic, this song is fun to perform with a group


Star of the County Down - LOTS of fun to sing and play!  An excellent ensemble piece


Waltzing Matilda - an unusually pretty melody from Australia; you know this one!  Very popular with kids


The Water is Wide - a very pretty song about disappointed love.  You might have sung this one in high school!


White, Orange and Green - though not widely known, this charming melody about fighting for the right to carry the flag of Ireland has stirring lyrics and soaring phrases. A favorite of my vocal & guitar students


Comments

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...

What Other Visitors Have Said

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Skye Boat Song features heavily in the Outlander TV series on Starz Not rated yet
This song, with Robert Louis Stevenson's lyrics (although with "lad" changed to "lass") and the battle of Culloden and the Jacobite rebellion feature heavily …

The Battle of Culloden Moor (song: Skye Boat Song) Not rated yet
Just a minor correction -- and many pages I'm finding have the same error: The Battle of Culloden Moor, the final defeat of the Rising of 1745, occurred …

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About the Author

Dana Thynes

Hi, I'm Dana!  (Say that like "Anna".)  I'm the owner of Music-for-Music-Teachers.com.

Like some of you, I've been playing the piano since early childhood, and 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.