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Sheet Music: Shenandoah

TitleShenandoah
Alternate titles'Cross the Wide Missouri
ComposerTraditional American
InstrumentationFlute and bass instrument
KeyD major
RangeA4–D6
Time signature4/4
Tempo76 BPM
Performance time0:35
Difficulty leveleasy
Download printable scorePDF Sheet Music (44 kB) (preview)
Download audio tracksMIDI (1 kB) (change tempo) MP3 (405 kB)
Play-along accompanimentMIDI (1 kB) (change tempo) MP3 (434 kB)
Date added2009-07-08
Last updated2009-07-08
CategoriesAmerican Civil War, Campfire songs, Military music, Sea shanties, Traditional/Folk

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Wednesday 8 July 2009

Tune of the Day: Shenandoah

American folk song
A Capstan

This enchanting song seems to have originated in the early nineteenth century as a land ballad in the areas of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, with a story of a trader who fell in love with the daughter of the Indian chief Shenandoah. The song was taken up by sailors plying these rivers, and thus made its way down the Mississippi to the open ocean. The song had great appeal for American deep-sea sailors, and its rolling melody made it ideal as a capstan shanty, where a group of sailors push the massive capstan bars around and around in order to lift the heavy anchor.

The song reached its first height of popularity perhaps a little before the 1840s, the beginning of the fast clipper ship era that added so much to American growth. The song was traditional with the U.S. Army cavalry, who called it “The Wild Mizzourye”. In fact, “Shenandoah” was known by countless names, including: “Shennydore”, “The Wide Missouri”, “The Wild Mizzourye”, “The Oceanida” and “Rolling River”.