Shape Note Singers
  • Just attended my first large shape note gathering this weekend, quite enjoyed it. (Have sung Sacred Harp occasionally in small groups before now.) Any other shape note enthusiasts on here? Do you ever find it effecting how you sing Gregorian chant?
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,641
    Paging MJB...
  • I love it! For me, there's a bit of a subversive element to it in that I ignore a great deal of what I've learned, practiced, and taught my whole life in choral singing and voice lessons. I enjoy the participatory nature of it, with lack of audience and lack of rehearsal. I've been to singing conventions where around 150 songs were sung in two days and been amazed that I still had a voice left Sunday evening. I haven't noticed any effects on how I sing chant (or vice versa). I've met a lot of very colorful people in Sacred Harp circles and enjoyed warm hospitality and delicious meals too. Here are a couple of handy links:

    If you're on Facebook, you should check out the Sacred Harp Friends group.
  • Thank you for this interesting post, I had never heard of such a thing, and now I discover there is one in Dublin! you live and learn...
  • Shape-note singing has been around for a very long time. We learned about this in MusEd 100, and was particularly popular in the southern United States for music in worship. Shape-note hymnals were some of the first published in the United States, and also is part of the heritage of music pedagogy.
  • WGS
    Posts: 244
    Sacred Harp singers have a standard of: "If you can still hear the person next to you, you're not trying hard enough." - completely non-subtle and lots of fun!
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,350
    There's a group here in Berkeley that I've attended a couple times. Love it.
    Affect my singing of chant? Yes, but I have to give a lot more thought into how so.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,510
    Sacred Harp "singings" are common in my area and are part of our heritage. Concerts are given often and the gatherings of the singers are open to the public. I suppose it is something novel to others but it is so common most of us take it for granted.
  • Spriggo
    Posts: 122
    By the way, the melody is almost always in the tenor.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,050
    Awake, My Soul was a wonderful movie about American white spirituals (the earliest roots of which were actually in the American Northeast in the wake of the First Great Awakening, and from there exploded in the American South with the Second Great Awakening):

    One of the oldest chestnuts in continuous repertoire of American sacred music is "I Am The Rose of Sharon" by that autodidact Boston tanner, William Billings, from the time of the American Revolution - it would be a wonderful vernacular anthem for Communion during Eastertide - it's #254 in The Sacred Harp, IIRC:
  • Did a lot of it in my younger days in Ann Arbor, haven't for years, but still appreciate the sound and tradition. I don't think it affects my chant, except perhaps in that I don't put up with wimpy chant.
  • TCJ
    Posts: 696
    I originally read this as "sharp note singers" and was thinking that I have some of those. And then I read more closely.

    Carry on.
    Thanked by 1bonniebede
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,596
    I love it (and it's English cousin in the West Gallery rep.). There's nothing like a good fuging tune to get the blood going. Jeremiah Ingall's NORTHFIELD is a particular favorite of mine.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,510
    I originally read this as "sharp note singers" and was thinking that I have some of those. And then I read more closely.

    And I originally read it as, "shapely note singers." No objections to that, but danged bi-focals. LOL.
    Thanked by 1bonniebede