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Botany Bay is one of Australia’s most well loved folk songs. Legend has it that it was written some time in the 1800’s by convicts sailing from England to Australia. Like its close cousin South Australia, it was a sea shanty used to boost morale amongst the sailors during their daily working routines.
This particular arrangement attempts to capture the true spirit of the sailors and their arduous, yet nevertheless grand journey. From the opening flourish of setting sail the music launches itself out to sea, with a constant driving rhythm accompanying the first two verses. The feeling of joy and anticipation is soon replaced with a darker mood, as doubt sets into the sailors’ minds.
The middle portion of the arrangement conveys a more melancholic tone, as the sailor’s reminisce about their loved ones and homeland. But as Australia draws near, the music turns more romantic, the lads regain their optimism, and we launch into one last triumphant strain with the hopeful promise of a new life.
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