Boatmen’s Dance

Boatmen’s Dance


Composer: Dan E. Emmit

Arranger: Linda Boatright

Octaves Handbell: 5

Octaves Handchimes: n/a

Level: 3 +  or  4 –   depending on tempo…

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This tune was originally written as a ‘minstrel song’ for banjo in the mid-1800s and had lyrics telling the story of boatmen on the Ohio River – who were known to be fun-loving and bawdy! Linda’s amazing gift for arranging is apparent in this piece where she has captured the authentic spirit of the tune and created a lively arrangement for handbells. It features shakes, table mallets, mart-lifts, and other stopped techniques while the engaging melody and counter-melodies are featured throughout the bell range. Beginning in F-major, it includes deftly handled segues to G-major and then A-major, bringing new excitement to the setting. Tempo changes are integral to conveying the lively dancing of the boatmen and the addition of foot stomps, hand claps, tambourine and wood block are icing on this musical cake! Ship’s bell or foghorn are suggested as fun options! This setting is easily rung by solid Level 3 groups, but Level 4 ensembles will find it a fun challenge if all the tempos are rung at the level suggested. 

Octave Ranges
5 Octaves
School and Youth
Secular - general usage
Level of Difficulty
Level 3+
Level 4-
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