Here’s a beginner lesson on how to play this fun sea shanty. Arrrrr 🏴‍☠️

This tune is recommended for students in Module 1.7 or higher. It’s a good way to practice the D Dorian scale. I’ll also show you how to play the chord backup for the tune.

 

Video loops 🔁

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A part 1st quarter


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Verse and chorus are the same basic melody. There’s just a little rhythmic variation between the parts.

The verse starts with a hoedown pattern for “What will we do with the”.

The chorus starts with a half note, dotted quarter and then eighth note for “Way-hay and”.


Learning chunks 

I’ve made some “Learning Chunks” to help you learn more easily. These focused exercises contain sheet music, tabs and mp3 snippets to guide you on your fiddle journey.

Preparation

Review and practice these lessons:

D and A Dorian Scale Practice


Warm up with the D Dorian scale using a D drone:

D0-1-L2-3-A0-1-L2-3


A part, second quarter

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A part, third quarter

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A part, fourth quarter

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B part, first quarter

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B part, second quarter

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B part, third quarter

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B part, fourth quarter

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Lyrics

Verse 1

What will we do with a drunken sailor? (3x)

Early in the morning!

Chorus

Way hay and up she rises (3x)

Early in the morning!

Other verses

Shave his belly with a rusty razor (3x)

Early in the morning!

Chorus

Put him in a long boat till his sober (3x)

Early in the morning!

Chorus

Stick him in a scupper with a hosepipe bottom (3x)

Early in the morning!

Chorus

Put him in the bed with the captains daughter (3x)

Early in the morning!

Chorus

That’s what we do with a drunken sailor (3x)

Early in the morning!

Chorus

Further learning

This tune goes well with Shady Grove.

If you’d like to explore this tune further, take the Drunken Sailor Practice Journey with me. In this group lesson, we’ll start with a basic version and then travel to lands using these strategies and games:

  • Looping
  • Practice loops
  • Transposition
  • Call-and-response
  • Chord backup

Other versions

Here’s a fun version that emerged on TikTok:

Module 1.7 Progress

 

Lessons complete in Module 1.7: 

 

Full Content 

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Continue on to Call-and-response 1.7 >>

Return to top of Module 1.7 >>

7 responses to “Drunken Sailor

  1. This is such a good tune!!!!! Just love all the mixing you did with the fiddle, chords, voice, band. Would be nice to do the same thing with a set a tunes, like you suggested in your workshop: Drunken Sailor + Shady Grove & Cluck Old Hen and with YOU arranging all the backing tracks and all. My violon and I are smiling when we have other instruments/voice with us :0

  2. What is a pirate’s favourite letter??
    You might think it’s an “ARRR”, but actually it be the “SEA”

    I like a “modern” (by Stan Rogers in the 1970s) sea shanty called Barrett’s Privateers, that is also easy to learn.

  3. I’ve been learning this song, and we are going to do it as a band. Rather than play the melody, as the singer will be doing, how can I play ALONG with this song? Or should I just play the same melody as the singer?

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