Traditional nursery rhyme. Possibly with buddhist overtones (see .

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream.

Silly and simple, I know, yet absent from Everything until just now, and linked to by The Nursery Rhyme Metanode.

Often a piece used in the early stages of playing the piano.

Because of the trip-l-et (triplet), or 1,2,3 feel of Mer-ril-ly, it can be difficult to count for students, who, just mastering 1,2, 1,2, completely lose it when counting 1,2,3,1,2,3.

I'm not sure what peace that inspires, especially for the harried piano teacher.

i remember learning in third or fourth grade a variant to this song. it made use of inordinately large words in place of the originals and, well, being the kids that we were, we were all over the idea of using a song that made us seem smarter somehow.

propellar, propellar, propellar your craft
placidly down the liquid solution
ecstatically, ecstatically, ecstatically, ecstatically
existence is but an illusion

Assuming the ground note to be a C:

  Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream
  C    C    C   D    E     E   D  E    F   G
  merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream
  C' C'C'  G  G G   E  E E   C  C C   G    F  E   D C

The melody is very natural, using only straight harmonics: assuming C (1/1), we only need D (8/9), E (5/6), F (3/4),G (2/3) and C' (1/2), so the song can be played on the simplest of instruments such as a PVC pipe or a loose string.

It is also natural in that the strongest harmonics coincide with the strongest points of stress rhythmically. The strongest interval, C-C', divides the two parts of the song; the next strongest interval, C-G, divides each half; the next strongest interval, C-E-G, marks the next strongest notes in the melody; the remaining notes are 'fillers'. You can fill in the details of the melody by consecutively filling in the notes, going from the harmonically strongest to the harmonically weakest.

This is not accidental, but a consequence of the way melody fundamentally arises from harmony.

What I've always liked about this song is the 'row, row' bit. By repeating the ground note, it makes the 'row, row' resound through the rest of the song, even when it isn't actually sung. The act of rowing is repetitive in just this way. So the melody, as simple as it is, illustrates the lyrics quite cleverly.

Another version made in jest:

row, row, row your boat
underneath the stream,
Ha, ha, fooled you all,
it's a submarine

A favorite for singing at random moments of silence. Also paired with a variant on I'm a little teapot (Segrams's version).

Actually, thing, the melody goes like this:

Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream
1 1 1 2 3 3 2 3 4 5
merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream
888' 555 333 111 5 4 3 2 1

I am using the 1-8 notation, instead of a specific key or solfege syllables, because it seems more intuitive this way. It could also be written as:

do-do-do-so-so-so-mi-mi-mi-do-do-do / so-fa-mi-re-do

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