This article was first published in Film Music Notes (September-October 1950).

The music for Treasure Island, produced by Walt Disney at Denham Studios, England, may be divided into two sections. First came the question of sea shanties, to be sung in the film. Under the general supervision of Muir Mathieson [music director to the production], Mrs. Buck, his personal assistant, conducted research during which over three hundred sea shanties and old maritime songs were examined before a final selection was submitted to the production chief, Perce Pearce. It was essential that the songs chosen should not only be correct for the period (1765) but also that they should be suitable in lilt and tempo to the scenes involved. Walt Disney himself heard a number of test recordings before the final selection was made.

The first of the shanties, “Johnny, Come Down to Hilo,” will be heard sung to the accompaniment of a guitar, while “Tom’s Gone Down to Hilo” has been recorded by a solo voice, accompanied by a group of pirates humming, and a guitar. The third sea song to be heard in Treasure Island is not a traditional number as such, but was specially set by Marcus Dods, of Cambridge University; it is the old number “Yo-Ho-Ho, and a Bottle of Rum.”


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