“Wellerman,” a traditional New Zealand sea shanty (c. 1860), hit the internet by storm in early 2021 with Nathan Evans’ TikTok collaboration. This jaunty arrangement includes some of the voicing heard in the now-famous recording. Two non-compatible scores are included in the folio: Score A is Level 2 for 2 octaves, and Score B (more complex) is Level 3 for 3 or 5 octaves. A quick tempo in Cut Time is the main reason for the Level ratings.
Both scores have no bell changes, no bell sharing and no techniques, so they can be played without tables or pads. Upper bells can be played with fewer ringers using four-in-hand (4iH). Clever arranging and the use of D.S. and repeats for the chorus allow the first 3 verses to be played without any pages turns (and the song can end right there or simply repeat) – but then one page turn allows the remaining 3 verses and an embellished chorus to be played. The piece is 3:15 in performing time.
The first verse and some selected descants may be played on Bell Tree or a C Instrument (especially a violin or penny whistle). More details on the history of the song (also known as “Soon May the Wellerman Come”) and the lyrics are included in Performance Notes, encouraging you to add more layers with vocals, percussion, and other ad lib instruments. The accompanying sound files can be used as click-tracks for virtual recording projects, with a 4-beat drum introduction to get ringers in sync. “Wellerman” is also a great teaching piece for Cut Time and dotted quarter/8th patterns. A Unison Exercise is included to strategically walk your students/ringers through these skills.