Drunken Sailor, a Traditional Sea Shanty

The "Drunken Sailor" is sometimes known as "What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor?" the first line of the song. It is probably the best known example of a Sea Shanty, a type of folk song sung by sailors as a work song while performing chores aboard sailing ships. (The word Shanty is thought to have come from the French word chanter meaning "to sing".) As with many folk songs, there are many different versions of the lyrics, and the version that I'm familiar with starts with the question "What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor?" repeated 3 times ending with "Early in the Morning". Then the chorus consists of "Hoo-ray and up she rises" 3 times and "Early in the Morning". The 2nd and subsequent verses offer a series of suggestions in answer to the opening question, beginning with "Put him in the long boat 'til he's sober" and so it goes on until the suggestions run out. As befits a Work Song it's easy to learn, and easy to join a chorus that's following a lead singer.

This type of song would traditionally be sung "a capella", but here we present an instrumental version for piano with the melody in the right-hand and a simple chordal accompaniment in the left hand. The right-hand melody can be played by other instruments, and we have included 3 versions of the melody, "high", "mid" and "low" parts with "high" being and octave higher and "low" being an octave lower in the bass clef. These versions will suit various musical instruments depending on the range. The sheet music is set so that the verses can be repeated as often as necessary, with a little flourish and dramatic pause on the last chorus. Download the sheet music, midi and mp3 files using the menu on the left. Or view/play the music below.

Drunken Sailor (Sea Shanty) - Video

Here is a video of Drunken Sailor (Sea Shanty):

Drunken Sailor (Sea Shanty) - MP3 & Midi files

The audio controls below allow you to play the mp3 version of Drunken Sailor (Sea Shanty) or you can download the MP3 file. You can also download the midi version of Drunken Sailor (Sea Shanty).

Drunken Sailor (Sea Shanty) - Sheet Music

The image below is the first page of the sheet music, and here you can download the full sheet music for Drunken Sailor (Sea Shanty) in PDF format.

Drunken Sailor (Sea Shanty) - sheet music 1st page