"The Skye Boat Song" tells the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie escaping to Skye following his defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. The lyrics were penned by Sir Harold Boulton in the 1870s, and the melody was written down by Annie MacLeod based on a Gaelic rowing song she had heard in Skye called "Cuachag Nan Craobh" meaning "The Cuckoo in the Grove". Although the song structure is the same, her melody is sufficiently different that it might be described as an original song. "The Skye Boat Song" is unusual because, although the chorus is in a major key, the verse is in the relative minor key with generally darker lyrics. It is common practice to sing or play the verse a little louder than the chorus. Alternatively the song can be performed gently as a lullaby, or in instrumental form in waltz tempo.
This arrangement of "The Skye Boat Song" can be played as a piano solo or to accompany singers. You can download the sheet music, mp3 and midi versions using the links in the left-hand menu. More folk songs can be found in our article about Folk Music & Songs. "The Skye Boat Song" has now reached a new audience when Bear McCreary used it as the title song for the TV Series "Outlander".