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Three Sea Shanties

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Malcolm Arnold

Sir Malcolm Arnold

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General Info

Year: 1943
Duration: c. 7:30
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Unknown
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


1. What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor?
2. Boney Was a Warrior
3. Johnny Come Down to Hilo


Full Score
B-flat Soprano Clarinet
Horn in F


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Malcolm Arnold’s Three Sea Shanties was composed in 1943 for woodwind quintet. It is one of the better-known quintet works, due to Arnold’s imaginative writing and quirky renditions. It is based on three well-known tunes.

Movement I – What Should We Do with a Drunken Sailor? This movement depicts the sailor’s drunkenness through quickly varying tempos and wobbly-sounding atonality.

Movement II – Boney Was a Warrior. This movement is slower and more introspective. A lovely melody is handed off between all five instruments -- most notably the French horn which starts and ends the movement.

Movement III – Johnny Come Down to Hilo. This movement is creative, uniquely composed, and exciting. You won’t hear a better written woodwind quintet piece. Each instrument gets to shine, with a rhythmic melody passed throughout the ensemble.

- Program Note from Utah Symphony


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State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • North Carolina State University (Raleigh) Woodwind Quintet (Paul Garcia, conductor) - 21 April 2022
  • University of Wisconsin Eau Claire Wind Symphony Woodwinds (John R. Stewart, conductor) - 13 May 2021
  • Dallas (Tx.) Winds (Jerry Junkin, conductor) - 23 March 2021
  • Tacoma (Wash.) Youth Symphony Association Woodwind Quintet I – 8 August 2014

Works for Winds by This Composer