The Arran Boat Song waltz

Also known as Aran Boat Song, The Aran Boat Song, The Aran Boat, The Arran Boat, Highland Boat Song, Push Off Push Off, Put Off And Row Wi’ Speed, Queen Mary’s Escape From Loch Leven Castle.

There are 24 recordings of this tune.

The Arran Boat Song has been added to 21 tune sets.

The Arran Boat Song has been added to 488 tunebooks.

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Six settings

X: 1
T: The Arran Boat Song
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Edor
|:E3 FE2|B3 cd2|A3 FD2|A2 AF D2|
|E3 FE2|B3 cd2|AF3 D2|1 E6:|2 E4 B2||
|:e3 fe2|g3 fe2|d2 dB G2|A2 AF D2|
|1 e3 fe2|g3 fe2|dB3 d2|e6:|
|2 E3 FE2|d3 BG2|AF3 D2|E6||
# Added .
X: 2
T: The Arran Boat Song
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Emin
E6|B3 ^cd2|A3 FD2|A3 FD2|E6|B3 ^cd2|AF3 D2|E6:|
e4 fe|g3 fe2|d3 BG2|A3 FD2|e4 fe|g3 fe2|^dB3 d2|e6|
e4 fe|g3 fe2|d3 BG2|A3 FD2|E6|B3 ^cd2|AF3 D2|E4B2||
# Added by Tessa .
X: 3
T: The Arran Boat Song
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Edor
|: E6 | B3 c d2 | A3 F D2 | A3 F D2 |
E6 | B3 c d2 | A F3 D2 |1 E6 :|2 E4 B2 ||
|: e4 fe | g3 f e2 | d3 B G2 | A3 F D2 |
[1 e4 f e | g3 f e2 | ^d B3 d2 | e6 :|
[2 E6 | B3 c d2 | A F3 D2 | E6 ||
X: 4
T: The Arran Boat Song
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Amin
|: EG | A3 B A2 | e3 ^f g2 | d3 B G2 | d3 B G2 |
A3 B A2 | e3 ^f g2 | d B3 G2 | A4 :|
eg || a3 b a2 | c'3 b a2 | g3 e c2 | d3 B G2 |
a3 b a2 | c'3 b a2 | g e3 g2 | a4 ||
a^g || a3 b a2 | c'3 b a2 | g3 e c2 | d3 B G2 |
A3 B A2 | e3 ^f g2 | d B3 G2 | A4 ||
X: 5
T: The Arran Boat Song
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Emin
|: BD | E3 F E2 | B3 ^c d2 | A3 F D2 | A3 F D2 |
E3 F E2 | B3 ^c d2 | A F3 D2 | E4 :|
Bd || e3 f e2 | g3 f e2 | d3 B G2 | A3 F D2 |
e3 f e2 | g3 f e2 | d B3 d2 | e4 ||
e^d || e3 f e2 | g3 f e2 | d3 B G2 | A3 F D2 |
E3 F E2 | B3 ^c d2 | A F3 D2 | E4 ||
# Added by JACKB .
X: 6
T: The Arran Boat Song
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Edor
E3FE2|B2 c2 d2|A2 F2 D2|A2 F2 D2|E3FE2|B2c2d2|AF3 D2|E6:|
e3 fe2|g2 f2e2|d2 B2G2|A2 F2D2|e3 fe2|g2 f2e2|dB3 d2|e6|
e3fe2|g2 f2e2|d2 B2G2|A2 F2D2|E3FE2|B2c2d2|AF3 D2|E6|]

Twenty-five comments

The Arran Boat Song - Air

NOTE: Play the Arran Boat Song as a slow air, not a jig.

Whenever someone asks for an easy tune to start out on (particularly on whistle or flute), I mention this beautiful air/song. This is one of the first tunes I learned on fiddle many years ago, and was the first tune I figured out on whistle. I enjoy playing it today as much as I did when I first learned it.

Domino, from Scotland, asked about this tune in a thread on good tunes for beginners. Thanks to Alice Flynn for correcting my many previous mis-spellings, and for the following info which she posted on that same thread:

"Domino, The Arran Boat is named for the Scottish Arran [isles], not the Irish Aran. It is often spelled incorrectly, but the melody goes to "Queen Mary’s Escape From Loch Leven Castle". It is an old trad Scottish tune. Old sheet music for it can be found at the Lester Levy sheet music site. It was also published in a book called "Seventy Scottish Songs" collected by Helen Hopekirk under the title of the first words of the lyrics, "Push Off, Push Off". I wrote my own lyrics to the melody about 5 years ago.

Posted .


I realize that it might have been more accurate to notate it in waltz time, but I decided that more ITM beginners might be more familiar with 6/8 and so could read the dots easier in that time signature. Regardless, this is a good starter tune for practing learning by ear as well.

Posted .

Waltz time

I think it would have made more sense in waltz time, especially for beginners.

When you see 6/8, especially when you’re not yet good at finding the natural accent point, you tend to hit the 1 and the 4. This tune (and it is a really beautiful one!) really doesn’t work well with the accents hitting on the 4. But the standard waltz pulse works really well with it .

Lyrics for Arran Boat Song

This waltz tune is for singers with a high range if you want to sing in the key you will hear at sessions.

Here are the old lyrics:
Robert Allan (1774-1841)
Queen Mary’s Escape From Lochleven Castle
also known as PUT OFF, AND ROW WI’ SPEED

Put off, put off, and row with speed,
For now is the time and the hour of need,
To oars, to oars, and trim the bark,
Nor Scotland’s Queen be a warder’s mark!
Yon light that plays round the castle’s moat,
Is only the warder’s random shot.
Put off, put off, and row with speed,
For now is the time and the hour of need.

Those pond’rous keys, shall the kelpies keep,
And lodge in their caverns so dark and deep,
Nor shall Lochleven’s tower or hall,
Hold thee our lovely Queen in thrall,
Or be the haunt of traitors sold,
While Scotland has hands and hearts so bold,
Then onward, steersman, row with speed,
For now is the time, and the hour of need.

Hark, the alarum bell has rung,
The warder’s voice has treason sung,
The echos to the falconets roar,
Chime sweetly to the dashing shore,
Let tower, hall, and battlement gleam,
We steer by the light of the taper’s gleam,
For Scotland and Mary, on with speed,
For now is the time, and the hour of need.


The tune, Aran Boat, is a Shetland listening piece. To play well, is not easy. It needs great restraint to keep the pace as an air and yet generate the pathos that it requires.It is beautiful when played well.

This is very similar to a tune that I composed out of thin air twenty five years ago for my new daughter, Kerry Rose.

I honestly had never heard this tune, so didn’t "copy" it, although you know how music can be almost genetic in the way it transfuses sometimes. It’s definitely not the same, but close enough to make one wonder.

Here are the lyrics. I know they are a little sappy, but what the hey. New daughter. I was pretty sappy at the time.

Kerry Rose I love you my baby
I look in your eyes and see a young lady
I give you these years, eternity’s pages
Smile at them sweetly as they pass you by.

Walk on the earth with all of her creatures
and sip the sweet nectar of roses in bloom
Walk hand in had with love and creation
Stand bold in the face of trouble and doom.

First verse over again and end.

I will post they music soon, but it’s hauntingly similar to Arran Boat Song, which I just heard for the first time today.


whoops! Wouldn’t know where to look for it. My apologies. Of couse it would be. Well, at least I know the name of it. 🙂

Posted by .

Nice version Tessa, I’ve cut-and-pasted it to the comments of the earlier tune, as things duplicated tend to disappear in time… I hope you don’t mind the minor changes on your take on it. I kept all your notes as they were…

~ names! 😉

Oops! ~ wasn’t looking, I forgot the ‘1’ for the first ending:
~ ~ ~
1 e4 f e | g3 f e2 | ^d B3 d2 | e6 :|
2 E6 | B3 c d2 | A F3 D2 | E6 ||

Which tune follows

anyone got some good idea’s about what tunes would go with this in a set?

Arran Boat

I play it in between Westering Home and Ye Banks and Braes.

sequence of settings?

As a musical novice playing sopD whistle, i am wondering that given how different the 3 settings seem, is would it be advisable to simply go from one on into another into another… or would one typically just stick to one setting and repeat it… or somewhere in between? what would a good sequence be?

Re: sequence of settings?

Those settings are not supposed to be definite in any way. Some of them are just transcribed as played by the one who posted them, some are copied from certain collections, and still others are transcribed from recordings. The comments may give some indication (although sadly some people don’t comment on their settings).

If you want to learn a tune from this page, I’d suggest to start with a setting that looks most basic, or simply with the one you like best; have a look at the other settings for some ideas on variation. But nothing is set in stone, and the order of the settings is just chronological as posted really. They’re certainly not meant to be played in that sequence anyway!

PS: Still better, learn from this page:
This way you’ll get a better idea how these tunes are actually played. Having the dots is nice and convenient if you know how to treat them, but may be misleading if not.

Arran Boat Song

I see this tune listed as a jig with 6/8 time signature. This is mis-labeled, it’s actually a waltz. I’ve just corrected it to 3/4 time signature. To be played at a graceful “waltz” tempo, not so lively as a jig.

Re: Arran Boat Song

I think this comment should rightly be posted in the tunes section, not here in the discussions. See also

Posted by .

Re: The Arran Boat Song

It’s not a waltz - although it can be played as such.

Posted by .

Re: The Arran Boat Song

Kenny, Would you call it an Air, instead of a Waltz?

Re: The Arran Boat Song


Posted by .