Shape Note Singing

This is one of Tex’s things, and she can doubtless speak more intelligently about it than I can. All the same, here is a photo from today’s Mountain Heritage Festival at Western Carolina University. I tried to upload a video but it didn’t work.  


Anonymous said...

Arrrrgh! I can almost make out which tune that is on the banner, but not quite.

I've done some shape-note singing, both formal (as formal as one gets) Sacred Harp sings, and at Church of Christ worship. Once you learn the shapes of the notes and how they relate, it's not easy, but it makes good sense. (I learned standard notation, so it always takes me a bit to get my mind back into the sol-fedge of shape notes vs. all-round-notes.)

One big difference to modern ears is that the harmonies in Sacred Harp are often in 4ths and 6ths, not 3rds and 5ths. If you are used to "four square" harmonies like most hymnals use, Sacred Harp sounds odd, even primitive (as one music historian put it.)


Assistant Village Idiot said...

I learned at the Johnny Cash museum that he started with shape note singing in the family as a child.

douglas said...

In the spirit of Mountain Heritage, I came across a wonderful summary primer on Appalachian cuisine on twitter.

Texan99 said...

That's "Milford," a classic if not one of my all-time favorites. How great that you had some shape-note nearby! Youtube: