Soldier’s Joy, aka Plymouth

Key: D*

Form: Hornpipe*


X: 1
T:44.Soldiers Joy
"D"AFDF AFDF|A2d2d2e2|fagf "A"egfe|"D"d2d2d2:|
de|"D"f2f2fagf|"A"e2e2egfe|"D"f2f2fagf|"A"edcB A4|
"D"f2f2fagf|"A"e2e2egfe|"D"fagf "A"egfe|"D"d2d2d2:|

MP3: (This version stripped down for learning.)

Download this MP3  If it plays, right-click on the page and “Save as”. (Detailed instructions)

(An up-to-speed, Appalachian version.)

Download this MP3  If it plays, right-click on the page and “Save as”. (Detailed instructions)

Sheet Music: Click image to enlarge. To download, right-click in enlarged image and "Save as...".

Soldiers joy

A more or less conventional version*

A Norwegian version called Seksmansril*










Seksmansrill, a Norwegian dance version:

Source: Traditional*

Other Tunes in Set:

Region: Scotland, England, Appalachia, pretty much everywhere*

*Notes:  There appear to be hundreds of versions of this ancient hornpipe in widely varying styles, time signatures and keys. It is arguably one of the most widely played fiddle tunes. 

From Wikipedia: “It has been played in Scotland for over 200 years, and Robert Burns used it for the first song of his cantata ‘The Jolly Beggars’….According to the Illinois Humanities Center, the tune dates as early as the 1760s. In spite of its upbeat tempo and catchy melody, the term “soldier’s joy” has a much darker meaning than is portrayed by the tune. This term eventually came to refer to the combination of whiskey, beer, and morphine used by Civil War soldiers.”

Thanks to research by Karen Jackson here are a few variations from around the North Atlantic, plus, thanks to another site visitor, the sheet music and YouTube above of a Norwegian version and dance called Seksmansrill.

Soldier’s Joy, Fiddle Tunes of the Lewis & Clark Era, New Columbia Fiddlers:


Soldier’s Joy at warp speed by Bill Monroe & Doc Watson:


Soldier’s Joy with Orkney swing, Traditional Scots Fiddling by various Scots:


Soldier’s Joy and Billy Peddle (sung to the tune of Soldier’s Joy), a Newfoundland version by Great Big Sea. (Tune starts at 1:20 in the YouTube linked above.)


A Métis version (mixed Native American/Scottish/Québecois from Manitoba) by Lawrence Keplin and Fred Allery:


A Shetland reel version played by Sarah Blair from sheet music of Jock Youngclause (1885 – 1957):


An Appalachian (West Virginia) take, played by Henry Reed:


Clawhammer banjo as a waltz in A♭ by Tyler May:


A Danish version by Dwight Lamb – Kristian Bugge – Mette Kathrine Jensen:


Soldier’s Joy “with a shuffle“, played by Hillar Bergman: